Four years ago I decided to try a recipe for Turkish lamb dumplings that I found in the Wednesday edition of the New York Times. It’s a delicious meal, and you should seriously try it, and it also introduced me to the marvel that is Greek yogurt. I bought a little cup to use in the sauce, and when I tasted a bit on my finger I was immediately hooked. It was so creamy, and tart, and I had never had yogurt like it before, but I’ve had a whole lot since. It’s awesome. I love yogurt so much in fact, that I decided to make my own, and last night I did just that.
I followed the instructions on this site, and even though they can be a little vague at times, it worked out really well, so they’re better than they look at first glance. I didn’t follow it perfectly, I let the bread hang out in the oven set on the bread proofing temperature (100 degrees) instead of keeping it on a heating pad for seven hours, but I tried not to stray too much aside from that. It’s a long process- it took about nine hours of cooking, and then a day setting in the fridge, and now I’m straining it, so it’ll be lovely and thick, but I’m really enjoying this process. I made a ton of the stuff, I used a whole gallon of milk, and even though I’m straining off a lot of the whey (more on that in a bit) it’s still a lot of yogurt. Some of it is going to be eaten plain, and some will be drained into farmer’s cheese, and some will be made into delicious frozen yogurt, and a little will be kept back to use as a starter for future batches, so it isn’t too overwhelming, but I probably won’t make gallon batches when I live on my own.
The strained yogurt has been sitting in its cheesecloth net for about six hours (they recommend straining for ten or more, but it has a very nice texture already), and I already have a nice collection of whey. When I took the cheesemaking class last fall the teachers mentioned that they give their whey to a neighbor who raises pigs, but I don’t have pigs, so I had to Google ideas for what to do with the liquid. Whey is apparently very special, magical stuff, and every source I found strongly urged me not to throw it away. People use it in smoothies, and to make ricotta cheese, but I’m going to use it to make rye bread for Easter. It’s supposed to give bread a nice tangy flavor, and it has nice protein that you wouldn’t get if you just used water, so that’s a good thing. Really the point is to use everything and make this process as efficient as possible (not an easy task), since making your own yogurt is several times more time-consuming than making your own bread, but like making bread it’s just darn fun and I want an excuse to do it agian.