Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Papa Bear's Yogurt

A few months ago, the Papa Bear was exposed to the concept of home-made yogurt by Shan. Shan was telling us about her silky smooth yogurt, and her stories brought a twinkle in the Papa Bear's eyes. I was not surprised in the least bit when a box arrived from Amazon a few days later; as expected, it was the Papa Bear's new yogurt maker. And the Papa Bear has made yogurt for us every other day since the arrival of the yogurt maker.

The yogurt maker is actually just an incubator. It keeps the container at a temperature for optimal bacterial growth (likely 37 degrees Celsius). The Papa Bear started with the recipe recommended to him by the manual, where he was adding non-fat dried milk to regular milk to obtain that thick, creamy consistency. Surprisingly, the Papa Bear did not know that yogurt was not naturally sweet like one gets at Costco, and you should've seen his face when he ate a bite of his first batch of plain yogurt. His face wrinkled up in pain and discomfort, since the Papa Bear is particularly adverse to sourness! He also refused to believe me when I told him that yogurt should be stirred before consumption to blend the liquid with the solid if it separated. The Papa Bear kept throwing out the most 'nutritious' part of yogurt with the highest concentration of bacteria until Anne also pointed it out to him that the liquid on top was normal and that all he had to do was mix it.

Now, the Papa Bear has moved on to using gelatin to create a creamy, luscious yogurt, cutting the calories per serving by nearly a half. We eat an enormous amount of yogurt, practically finishing a gallon worth of yogurt in a week. We eat it practically every night. Yogurt is extremely versatile as it embraces all kinds of flavors, taking on a completely different taste depending on what we add into it. Some of our favorites are pumpkin butter, Loulou's rhubarb grapefruit jam, maple syrup, honey, and pictured here, blackberry fruit preserve.

Do you see the 'dog' that the Papa Bear pointed out?

One of my favorite spots to be is under my red umbrella, overlooking the trees from my front patio, and having a serving of the Papa Bear's yogurt at my favorite spot is a true treat. My senses relax and my taste buds come alive from the tart freshness. The peaceful moment when I sit outside by myself enjoying my yogurt is one of my breakfast rituals that help me get up in the morning. I start my day off with yogurt and end my day with yogurt for dessert. Maybe that's why we've been going through a gallon of yogurt a week!

I will miss the Papa Bear's yogurt very much while I am in Japan for the next five days. I've got enough of a back-log to update this blog at the usual pace, but I am relinquishing the daily publishing control to the Papa Bear. He may even guest write one post, so stay tuned!!!


Anonymous said...

Could I get the recipe of Papa Bear's gelatin yogurt?
Have a nice trip, Alice! I cannot wait for your new photos in Japan!

The Papa Bear said...

Wow, someone is asking moi for a recipe. I think it's going to rain very hard very soon. I'm so flattered!

So, here's the ingredient that you'll need:

1 litter of milk
1/2 tablespoon + 1/4 teaspoon of gelatin

Shan, you're already an experienced yogurt maker so you already know the rest of the steps, but for those who are new to yogurt making, please read on.


Pour a bit of milk into a bowl and spread the gelatin onto the milk. Leave the solution until the gelatin "disappears" into the milk (about 5 minutes).

Heat up the milk and stir it to ensure that most of the gelatin has been dissolved.

Pour in the rest of the milk to get 1 litter.

Heat up the solution using the microwave oven or stove (don't bring it to a boil - it's messy) and let it cool to below 110 degree F. I put the solution into a bath of cold water to speed up the process. I also fish out the milk curds that gets formed on the surface of the milk.

Mix in your starter culture and incubate it. If you use the culture from a previous gelatin yogurt batch, you'll need to reduce the amount of gelatin by 1/4 teaspoon.

We like our yogurt tart, so I usually incubate the solution for 8 to 12 hours. But it should be good after 4 or 5 hours.

Take yogurt out of the incubator and mix it up well before putting in the fridge. The yogurt is a bit watery at this stage, but it should solidify to give a very creamy, soft and yummy texture once it cools down.

Note: Because of mad cow disease, some people might be concerned about using (beef) gelatin. Well, the
FDA policy
states that no bad cow parts be used in the making of gelatin. Also, it's likely that the gelatin making process, mentioned briefly
will probably destroy most of the disease-causing agents anyway. So, we should be safe. Right?

Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures. We do our own yogurt as well, but we are really low tech: no gelatin, and no yogurt maker. We just incubate in our turned-off pre-heated oven (to about 100 degree F). Our even is electric, but if you have a gas one with a pilot, temperature should be right without pre-heating. It took us a few tries, but we've figured out the right temperatures to get the perfect consistency at the end.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Papa Bear!
I never put gelatin in yogurt. I'll definetly try very soon. (Not right now because my yogurt maker is full of my home-made rice wine. :)

Alice said...

Let me know how the Papa-method works!
I LITER, not litter...
Thanks for the compliments! That turned off oven is a great trick to know!! I wonder if I could do the same to incubate my bread dough...