Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Yogurt Chronicle, Part I

My girlfriend Stephanie got me a yogurt starter culture for my birthday.  You know you're in a good relationship when your girlfriend gives you bacteria for your birthday and you're excited about it!  (She also got me a kombucha starter; I fully anticipate a Kombucha Chronicle, but that one takes longer to grow.)

Sunday, February 19

I start the culture.  The first instruction is to dump 1/8 teaspoon of dehydrated bacteria (presumably some Lactobacillus species) into a cup of milk and let it sit for 12-48 hours.  Eventually, this will be my "starter batch," and I'll be able to add it to milk to make more yogurt faster.  But for now, I'm stuck waiting through however many room-temperature doubling times it will take to turn my milk into yogurt.  The rubber-banded coffee filter it to allow oxygen exchange without leaving the culture open to all sorts of other nasty contamination.

At some point, the culture is supposed to "set," and the milk will show coagulation and more solid-like behavior.  For now, it just seems liquidy.

Monday, February 20

My starter batch isn't close to "setting".  It's maybe slightly more viscous but still definitely a liquid and definitely no coagulation.  But I'm still in the early range of that culturing time, so I'll let my bacteria have at it and wait until tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 21

Amazingly, the culture set overnight!  I put it in the fridge in the morning to make the bacteria quit multiplying so fast...

...and six hours later, I'm ready to start my first "production-scale" batch.

Two tablespoons of starter batch to two cups of milk should, in theory, become (very slightly more than) two cups of yogurt in less than a day.  Check back tomorrow to see if that actually happens.

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