For several years now, we have rarely purchased commercial yoghurt, but been making our own in the oven with the dial set to a point on the dial below the lowest setting of 150 (T painted a line on the dial with nail polish to what might have been around 80F on the dial). This was for the oven of the old stove.
Now that we have a new (to us) stove/oven, things are different. The oven is beautiful, but….
I must say that it’s wonderful to have a new, reliable stove. […] The oven is going to take a bit more to get used to. It turns out that, in spite of the fact that the oven has a self-cleaning switch, the temperature is a.) off [too low] by about 50F degrees, and b.) it takes about 15 minutes longer to preheat than the old oven did.
– me, Can this be true?!
We still haven’t figured out our new oven. The BBB recipes says to bake this bread at 400F for about 30 minutes. We know the new oven runs a little less hot than our old one (we would have had to bake this bread at 350F on the old oven). But even with the dial turned to 450F for preheating and then set at 425F, it took over an hour to bake the bread, in spite of the fact that I made three quarters of the BBB recipe.
– me, Potato Pavé with Goat Cheese and Thyme (BBB March 2020)
Alas, with its push-button oven settings, the new (to us) oven doesn’t lend itself to going below the lowest setting of 170F.
For a few moments, we went into a decline. How would we make yoghurt??
But T is brilliant. He devised a way to make yoghurt on the stove top. Yay!!
He put our big stock pot onto one of the footed racks we use for making chapatis (as well as simmering stock, or place below our tagine). We have two of those stainless steel racks – they’re the best. They’re inexpensive, and for us, readily available in India Town.
Then, T put a smaller footed rack inside the pot and placed the little clay pot we use for making yoghurt on that smaller rack. He filled the pot with water, and with trial and error, worked out how high to set the burner so that the temperature of the water was 100F. (Thank goodness for meat thermometers!)
After fiddling a little with the dial, it turned out that we would have to turn the dial to the “s” on “sim”. However, when it came time to using milk rather than water, and extending the time that the burner was on, the “m” on “sim” produced exactly the right temperature.
After the first time making the yoghurt on the stovetop, we noticed that the condensation on top of the lid dropped down to mar the surface of the yoghurt. Not that it really matters. It tastes just as good. But still….
To fix this, T used the tea towel method we’d read about in rice recipes in various Persian cookbooks
Lift the lid (without dripping condensation trapped under the lid back into the pot) and drizzle the butter saffron mixture over the rice. Wrap the lid in a kitchen towel or a couple of layers of paper towel to catch the condensation.
Naz Deravian, Bottom of the Pot, Chelo ba Tahdig, p.105
Cover the pot with a heavy lid or a lid wrapped in a cloth to help seal it well and steam the rice
Naomi Duguid, Taste of Persia, Basic Persian Rice
Place a clean dishtowel or 2 layers of paper towel over the pot to absorb condensation and cover firmly with thee lid to prevent steam from escaping.
Najmieh Khalili Batmanglij, A Taste of Persia, Baqala polow, p. 104
It worked like a dream! We have perfect yoghurt!
Here’s how T made yoghurt using the stove top:
Yoghurt – on the stovetop
- stainless steel pot
- large pot with lid (we use one of our stock pots)
- clean tea towel
- footed rack that fits over the burner
- small rack that fits inside the pot
- meat thermometer
- clay pot (or pyrex)
- 1 litre milk
- Zero milk powder [We used to call for “1/3 c skim milk powder, optional”]
- large dessert spoon plain yoghurt
- Run cold water into a heavy-bottomed stainless steel pot and pour the water out, but do NOT dry (this helps prevent a build-up of milk solids left on the pot), then pour in milk. Simmer the milk (so that it is smiling) by heating it slowly to 180F (82C). Using a candy thermometer is great but if you do not have a thermometer, the milk is the right temperature just before the milk boils (there will be a good bit of foam on top and the milk around the edges of the pot may be starting to form tiny bubbles). This takes 40-60 minutes. Note that the milk should NOT come even close to a rolling boil. This may cause the yoghurt to break apart.
- Remove milk from the heat and leave on the counter until the temperature goes down to 100F (38C), but no lower. If you do not have a thermometer, check the milk against the back of your wrist; it should be baby bottle temperature.
- Put the yoghurt starter in a small bowl and whisk in a small amount of the cooled but still-warm milk. Then add this mixture to the warm milk and whisk everything together to ensure even distribution of the starter. Note that if the milk has been allowed to cool too much, the resulting yoghurt will be stringy and gloopy.
- Put the footed rack over the stove burner and place the pot on top of the rack. Put the small rack into the pot.
- Pour the milk/yoghurt mixture into an earthenware container (or something oven-proof). Put the uncovered container of milk/yoghurt mixture onto the rack in the pot. Drape the tea towel over the top of the pot and place the lid on top of that. Turn the stove dial to very low (on our stove, it is the “s” of “sim”). Leave the pot undisturbed for about 3 hours. To prevent the yoghurt from breaking up, refrain from moving the stockpot while the yoghurt is fermenting. The yoghurt will be ready in about 3 hours, but will not be very sour. If you prefer something more sour, leave it to ferment longer. Once the yoghurt is set to your satisfaction, put it in the fridge. The cooling halts the fermentation process. It may also firm up a tiny bit more.
:: Any storebought milk can be used. Organic milk is really nice, but if only in-organic milk is available, it works just fine for creating yoghurt. We generally use 2% butterfat.
:: The starter yoghurt must be made with milk solids and active bacterial culture only (ie: zero gelatin or other thickeners which will interfere with fermentation). We used a spoonful of our left-over yoghurt now but any decent brand of 3.2% (or 2%) yoghurt works as a starter.
:: If the milk is too hot when the yoghurt starter is added, the bacteria will die and your yoghurt will not set. If the milk is too cold when the yoghurt starter is added, the resulting yoghurt will be gluey.
:: In 2009, although no reason was given, one recipe we looked at cautioned against using stainless steel containers to ferment the yoghurt. Searching in 2020, there was no indication that stainless steel would be a hindrance to yoghurt making. In fact, there are several pages that say stainless steel is perfectly suitable. However, we really like the clay pot we got. It is exactly the right size for the top shelf of our fridge and keeps the yoghurt nicely.
:: We have friends who ferment their yoghurt in mason jars placed in a camping cooler overnight. They put 5 mason jars into the cooler: one in the center filled with hot water and 4 filled with yoghurt/milk mixture. Their yoghurt is delicious! We thought of trying that method, but it would mean venturing into the basement, emptying the cooler of the camping dishes, finding somewhere else to store the camping dishes, finding somewhere easier to access than the basement to store the cooler, and the list of cons just goes on and on.
Hey presto, our yoghurt is just as fantastic as it was before. It has a hint of sourness, so is exactly as we like it.
So sorry commercial yoghurt manufacturers! We don’t need you anymore.
Early last week, we suddenly realized that we don’t have a thermometer to check our internal temperatures. We used to. It broke.
Considering that one of the steps in Ontario’s COVID-19 self-assessment form is to say whether there is fever present, it might not be a bad idea to have a working fever thermometer.
But. Good luck finding any fever thermometers at all at any of the pharmacies here! Just as it’s difficult to find toilet paper (!!), frozen vegetables, tomato sauce, dried pasta, and dried beans, so too is it pretty much impossible to get a fever thermometer.
But, once again, T is brilliant. He realized that we could use our meat/bread/yoghurt thermometer! Sure, it’s pointy so one has to be very very very careful. But it does register with enough accuracy for us to know whether we are running a fever or not – at least with enough accuracy for the self-assessment when it comes time to do it.
(Incidentally, we’re not running fevers… and, yes, we cleaned the thermometer very, very well after testing it as a fever thermometer.)
I suggested that T try using the candy thermometer and the oven thermometer. But he is old-fashioned and declined.
Stay well, everyone! Happy hand-washing!