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Dairy Kick


Our extraordinary features editor, Michelle Shih, is a terrific home cook. After telling me about making her own yogurt, I asked her to share. Here it is:

Lately, I’ve been on a make-your-own-dairy-product kick. Last weekend, I tried Maria Helm Sinsky’s ricotta recipe—delicious and as easy as she claims, though I forgot that the whey needed to drain for two hours, so I didn’t get her baked pasta on the table until 9pm. This weekend I was inspired by Harold McGee’s article in the New York Times about making yogurt. Over the years, so many people have raved to me about how good homemade yogurt is compared to the storebought stuff. But I was skeptical as to how easy it was until I read McGee’s piece.

I bought a gallon of whole organic milk (McGee calls for half a gallon, but the more the merrier, or so I thought) and heated it to 185 degrees in a big pot (interestingly, the same temperature I’d heated the milk for the ricotta the weekend before). I let it cool, which took a while—my husband got impatient when the thermometer hit 120 degrees, but I convinced him to count to 30 before dumping in a quarter cup of the plain yogurt I happened to have on hand (Trader Joe’s organic nonfat). What if too-hot milk kills the bacteria in the yogurt? We wrapped the covered pot in towels and left it on the countertop—McGee says for four hours, but I Googled while we were waiting and another website says seven hours. The longer you wait, the tangier and thicker the yogurt gets, it seems. We settled on five hours before refrigerating, which resulted in a lightly tangy product that was less sour than storebought stuff and deliciously creamy (ah, the wonders of whole milk). The one inadvertent result: I didn’t realize that you end up with almost the same amount of yogurt as the milk you start with. So now we have nearly a gallon of yogurt in the house. Next time, I’ll stick to McGee’s recommendation.

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