It's always fun to try a do it yourself project at least once -- yesterday's homemade raw and whole milk yogurt for Edible Publications Eat Drink Local Week falls under the category of "if at first you don't succeed try try again".A delicious tasting product, after 11 hours at 100 degrees in my convection oven, however, it still had a watery consistency closer to milk than yogurt.
Here's what I think went wrong:
First, I raised the temperature of the raw milk to 118 degrees so as not to destroy the live enzymes (typically 185 degrees for pasturized milk), then transferred the hot milk to a glass canning jar. (Next time, even if using raw milk, I think I'll heat it to 185 degrees which is customary.)
Once the temperature dropped to 100 degrees, I immediately stirred in live yogurt cultures from a container of Fage 0% Greek yogurt. (Next time, I will research alternative live cultures as some suggest Fage is not the best source of live cultures for yogurt making -- read more on 101Cookbooks.com).
And moved the jar to my convection oven. At 100 degrees for 4 hours (that's the maximum amount of hours on the Viking microwave and convection oven before it shuts itself off), I had just enough time to take my nephew to the movies. (Next time, I'll follow the advice of Michael Psilakis, chef/owner of Kefi on the upper west side, who keeps his yogurt warm at 105-110 degrees.)
After 4 hours, I had a taste. Tangy. Yogurty. Thin. Then, I let the yogurt ferment another 4 hours, and tasted it again. Then another 3 hours in the convection oven to ferment (by now it was midnight and time for bed). (Next time, I'll weigh my options -- either use a dehydrator or conventional oven at the higher temperature using Psilakis' method or invest in a cheap and cheerful yogurt maker).
In the refrigerator it went. I hoping to get some strawberries at the farmstand (I have struck out twice this week) and make some yogurt pops with my Zoku Quick Pop Maker tomorrow when I get to Southampton.