While there are certain things that a water oven absolutely cannot do, I am constantly surprised by just how many tasks it can handle. Take yogurt, for instance.
I’ve been making my own for years now. I’m something of a snob about my yogurt, preferring the looser consistency and softer texture of European-style yogurt to the gelatinous, stiff products that predominate here in the U.S.
I generally make a batch a week, but today, when I went to turn on my electric yogurt maker, it had given up the ghost (after years of dependable service). The milk and culture were all set to go, but I’d lost the even, gentle heat source provided by the specialized machine.
What could I use as a substitute? Why… my SousVide Supreme, of course. I set the temperature for 105°F, added the glass jars, and in 5 hours, had perfect yogurt. Actually, it always took 8 hours to make yogurt in the now defunct machine, so the water oven provided an added bonus!
If you enjoy yogurt but haven’t tried your hand at the homemade variety, give this version a try. Many commercial yogurts include a thickening agent such as pectin, starch, gum, or gelatin, not to mention artificial flavors and colorings. Here’s what was on the ingredient list for a vanilla yogurt my husband purchased: fructose, sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and artificial flavors. Interestingly, no mention of milk, although surely this is an oversight (one hopes, but it’s tough not to be cynical these days about our food system). Fructose is generally made from GMO corn syrup, and the next three listed ingredients are all variations of artificial sweeteners. Doesn’t sound good.
No living or active yogurt cultures, either, which is kind of the whole point of eating yogurt. It’s the live active cultures in yogurt that make it a probiotic, a source of friendly bacteria that has numerous health benefits, including aiding digestive health and bolstering the immune system.
If this isn’t enough to get you to consider making yogurt, remember that it’s much cheaper to make your own, and very satisfying, as well! No plastic tubs and foil lids to recycle, either.
If you prefer a thicker yogurt, simply bring the milk to 185°F. Also, the longer the yogurt is in the water bath, the thicker and tangier it will become.
Use any kind of milk you like: whole, 2%, skim, soy, or goat. I generally don’t add flavors to my yogurt, but once in a while (when peaches are in season) I add a tablespoon of ginger syrup to each ⅔-cup jar. Yummy.
Makes six ⅔-cup jars or about four 1-cup servings
- Add about 2 inches of water to your water oven. The depth of the water will vary depending on the jars that you use. Place empty jars in the water oven before filling them to determine the proper water depth. The water should come within ¼ inch of the top of the jars.
- Preheat the water bath to 105°F (41°C).
- Remove the plain yogurt from the refrigerator, measure out ½ cup, and set aside at room temperature while you heat the milk.
- Place the milk in a clean saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until it reaches 150°F (66°C) or so. If you want a thicker yogurt, heat the milk to 185°F (85°C). You can do this in a double boiler to ensure the milk doesn’t burn, but I’m lazy and just use a regular saucepan, stir a lot, and monitor the temperature closely. An instant-read thermometer such as a Thermapen is useful.
- Once the milk has reached the desired temperature, it needs to cool to 100 – 110°F (39 – 43°C). The fastest way to do this is to place the saucepan in a bowl of cold water, and stir occasionally. Again, an instant-read thermometer simplifies the process. If the temperature of the milk falls below 90°F (32°C), you will need to reheat it.
- Whisk the room-temperature plain yogurt, which acts as a starter culture, into the cooled milk. If you wish to sweeten the yogurt, add ginger syrup or honey to the mixture and whisk to blend. One tablespoon per ⅔-cup jar is a good ratio. Divide the mixture among clean, dry glass jars. I use either glass yogurt jars which hold ⅔ cup or 1-cup glass canning jars.
- Place the open containers in the water oven and cook for 5 hours.
- Remove the jars and refrigerate until the yogurt is cold. Once the yogurt is chilled, cover the jars tightly. The yogurt will keep under refrigeration for a week to 10 days. Two additional caveats: I don’t cover the jars while they’re in the water oven, and I do place the lid on the machine. While I thought that water condensation dripping from the lid of the SousVide Supreme might be a problem, it didn’t prove to be an issue at 105°F.