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Grow Your Own Garden Yogurt

About how to grow your own cupboard garden, in this case yogurt, proper care and preparation.

Growing Food in the City

YOGURT

A 2nd item which can be produced in a cupboard farm is yogurt. Yogurt is a milk product created by the propagation of bacteria cultures. Basically, if you place a tablespoon of yogurt in a glass of milk, the bacteria reproduce and spread through the milk, and within 6 to 12 hours, transform it all into yogurt. But if you try this unrefined method, the mixture probably won't "yog" correctly, because yogurt cultures are very delicate and particular. They insist upon a controlled environment. The milk which is to be cultured must be free of bacteria that might compete with the yogurt bacteria. Therefore milk to be used to make yogurt must either be boiled, be made from sterile powdered milk, or be a combination of the 2. If it is boiled, it must then be cooled until it is lukewarm to the touch, lest the yogurt bacteria be killed by the high heat. The milk and yogurt mixture (approximately one tablespoon of yogurt to 2 cups of milk) should be placed in a covered glass or clay bowl in a warm place. An oven which has been preheated to 200deg and then turned off would be fine, or the top of the stove above the pilot. The yogurt should be ready in 6 to 12 hours. If it isn't, either the heat wasn't consistent or the original boiled milk wasn't cooled down enough. Try the process again. If your luck is really bad, try adding a half teaspoon of unflavored gelatin dissolved in a small amount of warm water.

After the yogurt is ready, it should be stored in the refrigerator. A new batch should be made every 4 or 5 days to keep the culture active and the flavor good. After you've got the hang of making it, you can experiment with the differences between whole and nonfat milk, powdered milk made with cold or warm water, and so on. All these factors influence the taste and texture of the yogurt.

One last note: Don't try to make yogurt the same day you bake bread. It won't work. Yogurt cultures abhor competition, and yeast in the air seems to make them roll over and go to sleep. It's usually easiest to make yogurt right before you go to bed, so that the cultures can work when they're least likely to be disturbed. Unless your house has no heat and you live in a cold climate, it probably won't get too cold in your kitchen.

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