Sunday, May 3, 2009
Rice Cooker Yogurt
Making Yogurt in a Rice Cooker
A pint size container with lid
(I use a wide mouth canning jar or a plastic yogurt / cottage cheese tub)
(I have a small Rival rice cooker from Target, it's red like most everything else in my kitchen)
(I have a small one with a stem)
3 T plain yogurt (be sure the package says "live cultures")
I like to use Nancy's Organic NonFat Plain
1 & 3/4 cups milk (I use non-fat or 1%)
First, you need to test your rice cooker's temperature. Put some warm water in the rice cooker, put the lid on and set it at the "Warm" setting and leave it for an hour. Come back and take its temperature. If the water is over 120° you aren't going to be able to make yogurt with your rice cooker. Sorry. But if it is 120° or less, you're in business. My little thermometer's stem fits nicely into the hole in the lid of my rice cooker, which makes it easier to monitor the temp. as I make the yogurt.
Bring the milk to 190° (you can do this in a saucepan on the stove, or in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave). Scalding the milk like this denatures the protein and gives a smoother texture to your yogurt. This step is not absolutely necessary, but it really helps when you are a beginner yogurt-maker.
Cool the milk to 110° - 115°. You can do this by placing the saucepan or pyrex measuring cup, that contains the heated milk, into a sink filled with a few inches of cold water - stir the milk until it comes down to 120° - 110°, being careful not get any water in the milk.
In the jar or tub you will be using to incubate your yogurt, mix a tablespoonful of the warm milk with your 3 T. starter yogurt. Gradually add the rest of the milk, stirring to smooth the mixture as you go. Close the lid, and place the jar or tub in the rice cooker. Pour some hot tap water around the outside of the yogurt jar/tub. Be careful not to let any water get near or over the lid. You might want to measure the temperature of your tap water (my tap water is 120°). If your tap water is over 120° put some cooler water in it to bring it down to 110° to 120°. Put the lid on the rice cooker, set the the rice cooker to "warm" and let it stand, undisturbed, for 4-5 hours. If needed, check after 1-2 hours to see that the temperature has not risen above 120°. If the yogurt is thickened after 4-5 hours, remove jar (tub) and chill in fridge. If you prefer a more tart yogurt, you can let it incubate longer.
You can strain the yogurt, after it has been chilled, through a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth, to make a thick "yogurt cheese" or Greek-style yogurt. Just leave the yogurt overnight in the fridge in the strainer set over a container (I use a plastic yogurt tub). You can mix the thickened yogurt with chives, garlic, herbs, etc., for a spread.
You can add maple syrup, honey, or jam to the yogurt while it is incubating, or you can add them to the finished product.
This recipe may sound complicated, but making yogurt is really very simple!
Once you get the hang of it there are just a few rules you need to remember:
*Temperatures over 120° will kill yogurt.
*Temperatures under 110° will not let the yogurt grow and culture.
(Unless it is a special strain of yogurt such as viili)
*Using canned evaporated milk for part of the milk adds creaminess and smooth texture.
*Yogurt likes to be undisturbed during the "yogging" process.
Resist the urge to open, peek, stir, or move the jar until checking time (4 -5 hrs.)
*You can use some of your homemade yogurt to start new yogurt.
*Yogurt cultures get weaker over time, so buy some fresh starter after 4 or 5 times.
A little live yogurt every day is good for your guts!