OK Grammy, I get it now! My maternal grandmother is floating around out there (up there?) somewhere smiling about this one. Yogurt may not have originated in Armenia, but you'd be hard pressed to find an Armenian household without some in the fridge. We make soups with it, dips, beverages, serve it over various items, etc. Usually, we serve up a bowl with a little honey (or jam) and some crumbled Cracker Bread. I don't have any Cracker Bread at the moment, so me thinks I need to place an order. It took me 44 years, but I finally made it myself ... and it was soooooo easy! It's actually cheaper than buying it too, and there is no question that it's better for you! I was shocked to read some labels a while back and realize how much high fructose corn syrup is in some yogurts. You think you're picking a healthy low-fat snack only to be counteracting that with too much sweetener.
After looking through a bunch of recipes - some calling for sugar, others not, some using powdered milk for stability, some using yogurt starters versus starting with another yogurt, various methods, different amounts, etc., I pulled together what sounded logical to me to come up with this recipe. I decided to use the Agave Nectar to add a little sweetness, just because I bought it a while back and hadn't tried it in anything yet. Because we like the yogurt so much as it is, I'll stick with it in the future. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
1/2 gallon whole milk (8c)1/2 c powdered milk
Single serving of plain yogurt (w/active live cultures)
1 T Agave Nectar
2 t vanilla
Stir the powdered milk into the milk to dissolve.
Over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, cook the milk until bubbles form and it threatens to spill over. This should take 15-20".
Pull the pot off the burner and turn off the heat. Return the pot to the burner, and if it threatens to bubble over again, remove it for a few seconds and then put it back again. As soon as you can leave the pot on the burner without it rising, go ahead and leave it there for 2-3 hours. This is the equivalent of clarifying butter - you let it foam, then cool and skim the top off. Ewww, looks like I caught someone trying to sample before it was finished! Good thing the cover was on the pool ... scooped out the hitchhiker with that top layer.
In a bowl big enough to hold your finished yogurt, stir together your starter yogurt, vanilla and Agave Nectar. If you're looking for a plain yogurt, this amount of vanilla or a little less works to curb that tartness of plain yogurt. If you're specifically looking for vanilla yogurt, add more. Turn the burner back to medium to heat the original mixture again. When it gets to the point where you can hold your little finger in it to a count of 8-10 before the heat gets to be too much, that's perfect. Any hotter or cooler and it won't set right ... or so I've read. Pour a little of the hot mixture over the starter and stir together to temper the starter, then pour in the rest. If your bowl has a cover, put it on; otherwise, top it with a plate or something, then wrap a big towel around the whole thing and stick it someplace warm for about 10 hours in "incubate." I turned the light on in my oven and stuck it in there overnight.
After 10 hours, unwrap your bowl and pour off whatever liquid has accumulated on the top. I was actually expecting more than what there was. Not sure why, but I was. The divot on the edge of mine and the funky half moon in the middle was because the cover tipped into it when I pulled it off and it scooped that bit out of the edge. I was very excited to try it at this point. It LOOKED like yogurt, and it SMELLED like yogurt, so I was very hopeful, but still needed to let it chill. Dang! :(
OK, everyone grab a spoon and cross your fingers ... YAY!!!!!!! We just kept nodding with smiles and raised eyebrows with every spoonful. Spot on! Definitely need to order some cracker bread! ;)
NOTE: I have since updated my yogurt method - see new post here.