Project Yogurt and Unintended Project Cheese

Why yes, I have recolonized my gastrointestinal tract, and likely my genitourinary tract as well, thanks for asking.

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Project Yogurt

Notes on a first attempt to make my own bacteria-ridden milk product. Follow me to my Petrie dish of flavor.

I started with 4 cups of 2% milk, which I boiled in a high-edged saucepan up to 185 degrees, as measured by candy thermometer. Then, I turned the heat off.

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As the temperature fell, I added:

1/3 cup of honey (which we got from our beekeeping friends Peter and Kristen for catching a queen in our backyard this summer!).

Several TBs of caramel, without shame

2 packets of Knox gelatin

Then, once the mixture cools to 105 degrees, add:

3 caplets of lactobacillus (which I lifted off of my mother, my probiotic dealer. I took a photo of the container (just in case I were to die after eating the yogurt, so KP would know who to go after. Note in the image below the hilarious human broccoli dance tree graphic. Granola to the max. I think I had a t-shirt from vacation Bible school when I was six that had the same clip art.)

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Note- in the future, instead of the starter pills, once I have a solid starter going, at this step I will add a container of old yogurt, which should be teeming with lacto- and bifidobacilli. {Such great bacteria names—lactobacillus rhamnosus, plantarum, acidophilus, bulgarious, casei, helveticus, salvarius! Bifidobacilli breve, coagularis, lectis, longum, subtilis! Names worthy of their own Hogwarts spells!}

Then you place the mixture, by funnel, into your snazzy incubator,

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And twelve hours later, you have:

A separated disaster—curds and whey.

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Ahem. Notes on a second attempt to make my own bacteria-ridden milk product.

I started with 4 cups of 2% milk, which I boiled in a high-edged saucepan up to 185 degrees, measured by candy thermometer. Then, I turned the heat off.

As the temperature fell, I added:

1/3 cup of honey (which we got from our beekeeping friends Peter and Kristen for catching a queen in our backyard this summer!).

1 packet of Knox gelatin (2 made for a VERY firm yogurt—not my style)

Then, once the mixture cools to 105 degrees, add:

2 caplets of lactobacillus (3 was too much. It was a combination of the high concentration of bacteria, and perhaps slight over-incubation, that caused my first batch to separate)

Only incubated for 8.5 hours—much better product.

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Now, what to do with the embarrassing yogurt cheese? I dumped the whey in the trash because the gelatin turned it into whey-Jello (sick). I have read, however, that preserved whey can make for a nice protein supplement in fruit smoothies. Should be relatively tasteless.

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The cheese supernatant, the curds, I brought over to a friend’s party as a gag and then accidentally forgot to take home; the host was NOT happy that I left my bacteria-failed-yogurt-cheese at her place. I rescued it. And then used in it in the following tasty recipe, which I brought to another party with much success:

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Creamy Cheese and Green Herb Spread

1 pound of failed-yogurt cheese, pureed

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2 TB minced shallot

2 TB chopped chives

1 TB chopped tarragon

1 TB cider vinegar

1 TB walnut oil

Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, whisk the pureed cheese with the shallot, chives, tarragon, cider vinegar and walnut oil. Season with salt and pepper as you like. You can add a little olive oil too if you want—YUM. And not a waste of an otherwise accidental product!

So now I have homemade yogurt that tastes great, so satisfying, AND an herbed soft cheese. Win Win.

6 thoughts on “Project Yogurt and Unintended Project Cheese

  1. Is “making cheese spread out of not-quite-yogurt” the new “making lemons out of lemonade?” 😉 I greatly admire your creativity and resourcefulness, and am glad you were rewarded with a delicious outcome!

    1. Well, I’m learning that milk products are rather forgiving and interchangeable– I’m wondering why I ever bought cheese in the first place. So easy to make! KP just made mozzarella last night–30 minutes!

  2. I love having a food chemist nearby to fine tune recipes! Thank you so much for that tip on too much probiotic and the separation of whey! Dancing broccoli is just another way mothers try to convince their grade schoolers that veggies are ‘fun’…its a ‘way granola’ scam

    1. Yes, its an acidity issue. Too much wild activity in the bacteria department means a lot of CO2 is being produced, which will lower the pH of your milk solution, which is precisely what you want to do when making cheese–adding citric acid or lemon juice–but not with yogurt! I don’t test pH, yet, this is all speaking in generalities. But it makes sense to me. Which is precisely what I am loving about cooking. Oh yeah, and the food.

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