Well, I thought "my" method of Crock Pot Yogurt was simple, but the very first comment on the article told me that I "may be making yoghurt more complicated than it needs to be".
Apparently the guy leaving the comment doesn't worry about heating the milk up to 180 like I do. He simply heats the milk to "about blood temperature", which he measures with his small finger. He inoculates that milk and puts it in a thermos flask for 12 hours.
Compared to "my" process (which you can read about at Simple Crock Pot Yogurt and/or Sheppy's Blog: Yogurt) he is really only saving the cooling step, but as he points out, he is using less energy to make the yogurt (yoghurt?).
Intrigued, I had to give his process a try. If his process yielded similar results to mine, why wouldn't I simplify?
I did not trust my little finger to judge the milk temperature, so I used a thermometer. It was a good thing I did, because the milk temperature got away from me and I ended up with milk at about 140 degrees.
So, I actually did have to cool the milk, robbing me of the simplicity of this method. Still, I followed the process through because I was interested to see how the yogurt (yoghurt?) would turn out without the high temperature denaturing the whey proteins.
Sure enough, the next morning, I had yogurt (yoghurt?). And, it was good. To be honest, I think it tastes as good as the yogurt I made with "my" process. Obviously, heating the milk to 180 degrees is not absolutely necessary.
However, I still like "my" process better.
First, when I use the crock pot, I don't have to worry about over heating the milk. The last two batches, I used the crock pot probe set to 180, so I didn't even have to check the milk at all.
Second, and more important, "my"process has a nice clean separation of whey liquid whey from the more solid yogurt "curd". It is much easier to strain my yogurt. In fact, I didn't have any luck straining his at all. So, using his process, I ended up with "loose" yogurt ... ie .. much more liquid in consistency than I want.
As I mentioned, it still turned out tasting fine. About the same, really. It really is just a mouth-feel thing.
I do think the mouth-feel is important enough that I am going to stick with "my" method.
In fact, I made yogurt yesterday, straining it more than usual to mix with the yogurt I made with his method so that I could blend the two.
I am happy that the guy gave me the alternative. It was a cool experiment, and I think I may adopt his inoculation method of using a thermos. Again the yogurt tastes just as good. If you like "loose", thin, liquid-y yogurt more than the thicker "greek" style, you probably shouldn't worry about heating the milk to 180 degrees either.
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