MICROWAVE YOGURT

YOGOTHERM

FRESH YOGURT

Always wanted to try your hand at making yogurt? Here's a terrific recipe I've developed over the last few years.

For a long time I cooked yogurt in small cups in an electric yogurt maker. Then I got lucky and picked up a Yogotherm at a thrift store for a few dollars. It even included a recipe booklet so I figured, Whoa! give this a try! The Yogotherm has an outer container like a thermos, plastic lined with foam, and an inner container in which the yogurt "makes" and which you then keep in the fridge for up to two weeks -- mine never lasts that long, though!

For the next couple of years I made it according to the recipe in the folder combined with one from my microwave cookbook. Then in an antique flea market I found a wonderful book on Yogurt in its many forms. Some were like water, some told how to make cheese, whey, etc.

Eventually I hit on a sure fire way to make it with the least trouble at all, combining the ease of microwave cookery with the simplicity of just four ingredients. No more skim milk powder, rennet tablets, mess and measure, 3 different bowls, pans... This is IT!

Start with a two quart microwavable bowl. Pour in 4 cups skim milk. Add 2 cups canned milk and 2 cups half and half. Cover. Microwave for 15 minutes (mine's a small microwave) or until the froth just starts to pop up around the cover's edge.

Spend a few of those minutes sterilizing your yogurt container: boil some water, pour a little in the inner container and rinse it around, then pour a little over the top of the lid; set both aside to drain and dry thoroughly on a clean paper towel. Sterility is the name of this game.

Fill a sink about a fourth of the way up with cold water. When microwave yogurt is ready, place bowl in sink, surround with ice cubes. You'll need enough to completely surround the bowl. Remove the lid. If you have a yogurt thermometer place it in the liquid in the bowl. If you don't have a yogurt thermometer, wait 15 minutes and then do the "baby" test, that is, put a little of the liquid on your wrist: when you can't feel it, it's the right temperature.

Stir in a cup of yogurt from last time. This yogurt will be in a glass jar or the measuring cup. Dip the cup into the yogurt liquid and mix some gently with the yogurt in the measuring cup, then pour it all into the yogurt liquid. Stir to mix, transfer liquid yogurt to the yogurt container, again using your glass 2 cup measure, and then that container goes in your Yogotherm.

To make your initial batch: use a cup of organic Greek yogurt from the store, plain and pure as possible.

Wait a few hours and "Viola", as my old sailing buddy used to say, Yogurt!

Serve plain or with fruit of your choice; I like a tiny bit of vanilla added for flavor; fresh or frozen strawberries or blueberries, dried apricots, dried cherries are all good. A drop or two -- or three of liquid sweetener if you prefer it a bit sweeter.

TWO BIG SECRETS TO YOGURT MAKING:

1. Biggest one of all: don't use any metal spoons or bowls. Use glass or fiberglass microwave bowl, plastic measuring spoons, plastic spatula, glass measuring cup. Don't let metal touch your yogurt mixture at any time or it will kill the yogurt.

2. Other very important secret: Too high a heat will kill the yogurt you've saved over to make your new batch, so be sure to cool your fresh mixture to "baby" temperature when it's at that stage before you add the saved yogurt.




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