Step 8: The Circle of Life

Picture of The Circle of Life
I was thinking about these clever bacteria: They have evolved to trick us into using our bodies to promote their culture. So exactly who is the "superior" species?

This is a robust process. Over the past 2 years I have fermented about 80 gallons of yogurt. I've used different gear and different milk and made every mistake. For the past 60 batches, I have used only my own starter. Still *never* a failure. I am careful about sanitation; brush cleaning everything with a little bleach in my dish detergent. But my kitchen isn't a laboratory. This bacteria is so territorial, it's fighting off other microorganisms. It creates it's own environment for its safety and our delight. After 60 generations, it's growing like fresh culture.

I tried some batches with added dry milk. That's just more trouble and expense. Fluid milk is cheaper than the equivalent powdered milk. If I need more yogurt for a special culinary project, I'll buy a 2nd jug.

After losing a lot of weight and radically improving my health, I have switched from skim to whole milk. The resulting yogurt product is luscious. Like cream cheese (but with flavor), you can spread it on toast. Of course I use it for fruit smoothies every morning. With a dab of olive oil and spices, it makes wonderfully thick and creamy salad dressings. When loaded with Southwest spices or wasabi, it sauces sandwich meat. Creamy belly-filling vegetable soups too.

With foamed cream or pasteurized egg white, it makes a sweet whipped pie filling. Oh yes. I hope to spend years discovering new yogurt desserts. And living well.

Cheers from Sarasota.
PikeMinnow2 years ago
I love the line "the yogurt doesn't care". I learned how to make yogurt from an Albanian neighbor, her gift to me when I moved away was a half-gallon of her delicious yogurt. I can't stand supermarket yogurt but if she made yogurt I would come running.

When I am explaining how to make friends I used to say "The yogurt critters will outlive cockroaches", but I like your version better.
glostah2 years ago
I was thinking as I read this that , "The yogurt doesn't care." would look great on a t-shirt or bumper sticker!
ironpope2 years ago
Outstanding. I agree with your comments on people's aversions to science in the kitchen. Everybody has to get over that I guess. It helps to see someone you trust do it right. Once I learned to trust my thermometer my cooking got a lot better. Excellent instructable, I will definitely be making yogurt now.
I'm coming in late on the conversation, but xylph's concern about the plastic jug was also my first reaction. Is there any "leeching" of the plastic into the milk because of the extreme heat? Just wondering. I'm assume that the yogurt doesn't care, though. ;-)
I don't know what goes on in dairy processing plants, but I'm guessing that since there is some heat involved in the pasteurizing process, this is what you are alluding to with your comment.

That being said, I do absolutely love your simplification of the process! I find that the hardest part about making my own yogurt ('Greek' is my goal) is keeping it at a constant 100deg after inoculation. I use a huge roaster oven (like a metal crock-pot) with water in it as a 100deg bath for my two 1/2gal of percolatin' bacteria-filled milk. It doesn't register 100deg, so I have to constantly test the temp, which seems to fluctuate no mater how many times I mark the spot where I measure 100deg!
Thanks for the 'structable! Nice job! Good laughs! Interesting topic!
nottauser2 years ago
Thanks for the tutorial...I like Yogurt and the acidiphilus is good for maintaining a balanced tummy environment.
What I don't like is the fact that it seems all you can get is skinny yogurt in the stores and I wonder if thats why it lacks flavor? at least it seems to me it used to seem much more flavorful years back. any insight there ? I mean how fat would yogurt be natuarlly from the cow if it were not processed down to 4 percent fat for whole milk...it even seems to me that whole milk is being skinnied down and I like the rich creamy flavor that seems to be gone these days. I don't know for sure , Maybe my taste buds are just changing.
also I was wondering If theres a cost advantage to making it yourself or what other reason do you prefer to make it yourself. I can understand the hands on /choice thing but it seems like a lot of energy for something You might buy at the store already made. Naturally curious of course. any way thanks for your ible ,very informative.
sincerely Rob.
Great instructible!

One thing I didn't see mentioned was how long the yogurt is good for in the fridge. I have a little yogurt maker I got for cheap, I don't eat much of it so the volume you make is quite a lot more than I'd have in a week, so I'm curious how long you keep it for before it goes off.
londobali2 years ago
Great 'ible!
Thanks for sharing..

I have no idea what made me think that home made yogurt is too complicated for me..
but now you've shed the light on me.. :D
again: thanks!
donmatito2 years ago
Now that's one philosophical yogurt!
windshadow2 years ago
awesome . thanks for the tutorial .
ldeese12 years ago
This is a nice instructable, especially if you want larger quantities. I make my yogurt in a crockpot. I can't get a whole gallon in the one I use but I can get about 3 quarts made at a time. Once I add the culture to the warm milk, I ladle the yogurt mixture into glass jars and put them in an insulated bag and then into a styrofoam bag. I do that mostly because I'm not crazy about plastic and it is easier to find room in my fridge once they are ready. I really like the way you made up the strainer system for your yogurt to make it more like greek yogurt/yogurt cheese and to prevent the whey from floating on top. Do you use your whey in cooking in place of water?
ldeese1 ldeese12 years ago
I meant to say styrofoam container. I guess my mind drifted.
onemoroni12 years ago
Thanks for your instructable. I have been making my own yogurt with a thrift store maker that produces about 2-3 cups. I would like to make more volume. i have kept a culture going for over a year. Recently I use a hand blender after draining the whey to whip in air and make a smooth texture like the fake pudding stuff they sell as yogurt in the store. You are right, "the yogurt doesn't care". Also I have tried powdered milk and as opposed to milk with fat you get considerably less product and lower quality taste.
Nicely done. Thanks!
Thank you for this great instructable!
xylph2 years ago
Love this Instructable. I'm a little concerned about scalding the milk jug directly, though?
kizz2462 years ago
"The yogurt doesn't care." :D