Author Topic: Mad Scientist Makes Yogurt  (Read 596 times)

Offline awakephd

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Mad Scientist Makes Yogurt
« on: July 21, 2014, 03:35:30 PM »
I mentioned in an earlier thread the idea of making a framework that could fit into the microwave, to hold a spoon such that it would stir milk being heated as the turntable rotated. I have since made the framework and tried it twice. I have also come up with a way to expand the capacity of my simple yogurt maker. The pictures and descriptions below give the details.

Picture 1: the parts -- 1/2" PVC Schedule 40 pipe and fittings. Pipe segments were cut 7.5" to fit my microwave in height and width.

Picture 2: the framework installed in the microwave, with two plastic spoons zip-tied in place

Picture 3: another angle to show more of the assembled framework

Picture 4: Milk (2 quarts) has been heated to 180* F on high, then held at that temperature by heating on 20% power for 30 minutes. Now the bowl is placed in the yogurt maker. As can be seen, it is too big for the yogurt maker and its original lid ... so another random lid was used.

Picture 5: Towels contain the heat of the yogurt maker so that it will work with the oversize bowl. Note that I have successfully done this with an even larger bowl as well.

Picture 6: After 12 hours, the yogurt is finished. Now it goes in the fridge to cool and further firm up.

Picture 7: The lovely, thick consistency of the finished product
-- Andy

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Re: Mad Scientist Makes Yogurt
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2014, 08:08:13 AM »
Now there's something you don't see every day.

For bringing fresh yogurt to the forum and a lovely photo essay, please accept this humble cheese. 8)

-Boofer-
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Bread, beer, wine, cheese...it's all good.

Offline awakephd

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Re: Mad Scientist Makes Yogurt
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2014, 10:09:38 AM »
Thanks! I am still tweaking the stirring mechanism to get the best results, but my two experiments thus far suggest that this will allow me to make some AMAZING yogurt with a minimum of fuss -- let the microwave do the work!

Using Fage Greek yogurt as the starter, I am getting incredibly thick results with no detectable "twang" even before straining -- in fact, I wouldn't mind just a bit more twang. After straining ... it is like eating ice cream!
-- Andy

Offline Brandnetel

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Re: Mad Scientist Makes Yogurt
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2015, 12:20:03 PM »
Wow. That looks fabulous! Rube Goldberg would be jealous.
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Offline jmason

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Re: Mad Scientist Makes Yogurt
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2015, 01:52:32 PM »
Wow, you are really incubating your yogurt for 12 hours, and getting no twang?  I am currently using fage also as my primary culture, really only because I couldn't find a stoneyfield farm plain in a small size that day but it is working fine and has a similar set of cultures.  That is quite a contraption you got there.  I make 2 gallons of milk into yogurt at a time 1-2 times a week ( I have a son that devours the stuff and gee he is a growing boy).  After draining I yield 1 gallon of greek style.  I only incubate 4 hours most times and it is fine, occasionally it goes to 6 or 8 hours if I fall asleep or the scheduling works out that way.  I heat in the same double boiler setup I use for 2 gallon cheese makes, then chill the inner pot in a sink of cool water to 110F, and into the oven which I turn on for a  minute maybe, and I walk away till it's finished.  The bread baking tile I have in the oven probably helps hold the heat nicely.  And if I think of it I turn the oven on midway throuogh for 30-45 seconds to "recharge".  this new method has taken all the stress out of making yogurt.  Oh, and I pull a ball jelly jar, 8 oz, worth of undrained yogurt to serve as my starter next time.  Before I was just using the strained yogurt from the jars we were eating from and after 4-8 weeks would have to go back to store bought culture as I picked up some contaminents, now I am over 2 months on the same culture and it still looks great.  This way no risk of a licked spoon being dipped back into my starter culture.

I would try a different brand of starter culture if you want more tang, maybe the stoneyfield farms, I recall into being a bit tangy.

John
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Offline awakephd

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Re: Mad Scientist Makes Yogurt
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2015, 09:05:47 PM »
Hi John,

Since I did this write-up, I have moved on in my yogurt making -- I'm now making yogurt in 1-gallon batches. (Two gallons 1-2 times per week?! I stand in awe ...)

Unfortunately, the microwave just couldn't handle a 1-gallon batch -- it took forever to get up to heat, and didn't hold a very steady temperature, and in spite of my "rube goldberg" setup, it still developed a fair bit of "skin."

So now I heat the milk in a pan directly on the stove, stirring constanstly, to 180°; hold it at that temp for 30 minutes, still stirring constantly*; then cool rapidly by setting the pan in a sink filled with cold water. When it gets to 115°, I transfer the milk to a 1-gallon jar; I stir some of the milk into around 2 Tbs of yogurt (Fage 2% is my preferred starter, but I've had good results with some others) until smooth, then return it to the milk and stir it in. I put the jar in the yogurt maker and put on the jar lid. The jar fits into the "well" of the maker, but of course is way too big for the original lid from the yogurt maker to fit over it, so I cover it all with towels. I come back 12 hours later to delicious, thick yogurt. Usually there is very little twang if I use Fage; more if I use some other brands as the starter. But all of it absolutely delicious!

*Yes, it is not convenient to have to stay at the stove stirring for 40 minutes. I need to make an electric stirring device to go on the pot ... but in the meantime, I get a book and a chair, and sit by the stove, stirring as I read. Before I know it, the time is up!
-- Andy

Offline jmason

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Re: Mad Scientist Makes Yogurt
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2015, 09:18:08 PM »
With my water jacket/double boiler I don't stir at all on heat up.  I will stir a bit on cool down since the thermal layers are working against me in that case, and I already have my small pot of water boiling to sanitize my whisk which I use for this and for blending in the starter. 

yeah 4 gallons a week even with my simple method were a bit more work than I would like, but now it is leaning more towards the 2 gallons a week.  I would do larger batched but currently 2 is all I can manage with the colander I have.  When the demand increases again in the fall I will need a better draining method so I can get it done with 1 make a week.
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