Yet again, Iowa has delivered something that just couldn't be found in NYC--locally produced milk! While I know several people who bought their milk from Farmers' Market stands in NYC, I just never could find the milk stall. So, I bought mine at the grocery store, with no idea from whence it came. Well, I had some idea, I guess, because I know for sure that it came from cows. Unless that episode of "The Simpsons" got it right and tiny milking machines have been hooked to rats. I digress.
The point: Exceptional milk is available here! Many thanks are due to Hansen's Dairy. (Curiously, it has been said that if you take any word, keeping the first and last letter in place and scrambling the remaining letters in any order you choose, your brain will still read the word correctly, every time. There are exceptions to this rule. Dairy/Diary is but one.) Again, digression!
This past weekend, I purchased two gallons of the good stuff. A gallon of 1% (because while I prefer skim, I know other people in the house are likely to complain if skim is the only option in the refrigerator), and a gallon of whole milk. The whole milk went something like this:
Into a clean, 5-quart crock pot, on high, with a candy thermometer tucked between the lip of the pot and the pot's lid. There it remained until the milk reached 185* F. At which point, I turned the crock pot to low and left it for 30 minutes.
Having held the milk at 185* for half an hour, I turned the crock pot off, and left it for a few hours, until the thermometer read 110* F. Then, I mixed 1 1/2 cups of the warm milk with 1 cup of plain yogurt, mixed this back into the remaining milk in the crock pot, put the lid back in place without the thermometer, wrapped the entire thing in four layers of towel, and left it sitting for eight hours, returning after five hours to turn the crock pot on low for 15 minutes, and two hours after that to turn it to low for another 15 minutes.
Having thoroughly cultured the milk, I stirred it until it was smooth, and then ladled it into a tea towel lined mesh strainer resting over a large stock pot. After a few hours in the refrigerator, the whey was transferred from the stockpot into a storage container and placed in the freezer. I plan to use it the next time I make bread.
The remaining yogurt was moved from the tea towel into a storage container, stirred, lidded and returned the refrigerator.
This is not my first time making yogurt, and I've always used whole milk in the past. It is my first time making yogurt with Hansen's milk, however, which feels as though it has a higher fat content, which is entirely plausible depending on the breed of cow they milk. Jersey's produce significantly more far than other dairy cows. I think next time, I'll buy two gallons of 1% and make low-fat yogurt.
All in all, it's quite delicious, and I'm enjoying it mixed with strawberries.