Sous vide yogurt or crème fraîche

Sous vide yogurt

I know, this sounds ridiculous.  But I love my immersion circulator more than I can adequately describe in words (an interpretive dance would really be more fitting).  I don’t use it as often as I probably should, so when I am thinking of making things, coming up with a way to use the Anova is always in the back of my mind.  So when I decided to start making my own yogurt again, I realized that a sous vide setup is the ultimate way to produce yogurt, and was pumped to have come up with a new use for my second favorite appliance (my immersion blender ranks at #1).  Yes, yogurt is so simple that it hardly requires a recipe, however there are many folks that are either just not familiar enough with the process or are nervous about keeping milk that they plan to eat in the “danger zone” for many hours intentionally.  Let me assure you that if you practice clean food handling procedures, there is no need for concern.  All of your favorite fermented products rely on warm temperatures for the bacterial growth to make them taste delicious. (I’m lookin’ at you, cheese!)   So here’s what you need:

 

Ingredients and equipment for yogurt:

Immersion circulator

Glass Jar

Container large enough for your glass jar to be at least mostly immersed

Milk*

Fage yogurt**

*You can use conventional milk here and it will work fine, but I personally don’t understand going to the effort of making yogurt with standard milk when you can just buy premade yogurt for cheap.  Grass fed/organic/otherwise specialty milk is where this technique is particularly useful.  Finding grass fed yogurt is difficult to begin with, and incredibly expensive.

**You can use another brand of yogurt as long as it has live and active cultures, but in my experience, for whatever reason, your end result will be better with Fage.  After an initial batch, you can use starters from your previous batch of yogurt, but to begin with, I advise using Fage.  I often get it on sale for $1/tub.

 

Instructions:

  • Fill your glass jar most of the way up with  milk, leaving maybe 1/2 cup of room at the top. Screw the lid shut, but only finger tight.  Air may need to escape during the next step.  Ensure that the jar is not totally submerged. The lid needs to be out of the water.  In this particular container, I use an upside-down ramekin for quart jars and an upside down coffee cup for pint jars. Depending on your circulator, your container, and your jar, your mileage may vary.
  • Place the jar and the circulator in the container and set the temperature for 185 F.
  • Once the bath hits 185, start a timer for 30 minutes.  Once 30 minutes is up, remove the jar from the water bath and set it on a towel to begin to cool. (I like to use my handy-dandy canning jar lifter, but it’s not necessary.)  Keep the lid on.  Allow to cool to between 115 and 95 degrees.
  • Once the jar of milk cools, pour a little of it out into a very clean bowl, add in 1/4-1/2 cup of your yogurt, and stir to combine.  I use a fork to try to remove as many of the yogurt chunks as possible.  Once that mixture is smooth, pour it back into the jar and put the lid on.
  • Ensure that your bath is no hotter than 115.  If it is, pour some water out, replace with cool water, etc, what have you.  Basically, get your bath to between 80-115 degrees.
  • Put your jar back in, set the circulator for 110 degrees, and leave it for 8-12 hours.  I usually do this when I am going to bed.
  • After 8-12 hours has elapsed (the longer the time, the more tart the yogurt will be), pull the jar out of the bath and refrigerate.
  • To make Greek yogurt: once the yogurt has chilled, line a strainer with coffee filters, and spoon the yogurt out into the filter-lined strainer.  Set yogurt over a bowl (I like to use my 4 cup pyrex measuring cup) and allow to drain.  This can take between 30 minutes and 2 hours.  Once approximately half the liquid(whey) has drained out, scoop the yogurt (or peel the coffee filters off) and store it in a container for use.  You can either discard the whey, use it for making bread, or feed it to your dogs.  It’s full of all the same beneficial bacteria, so I always just feed it to the dogs.  They seem to like it.

Sous vide yogurt

Ingredients and equipment for crème fraîche:

Immersion circulator

Glass Jar(I like using a pint jar for this)

Container large enough for your glass jar to be at least mostly immersed

Heavy Cream

Buttermilk

 

Instructions:

  • Put about 1/4 cup of buttermilk in the bottom of your jar.  Fill the remainder of the jar to 1/2″ from the top with heavy cream.  Screw the lid shut, but only finger tight.  Air may need to escape during the next step.  Ensure that the jar will not be totally submerged in your vessel. The lid needs to be out of the water.  In this particular container, I use an upside-down ramekin for quart jars and an upside down coffee cup for pint jars. Depending on your circulator, your container, and your jar, your mileage may vary.
  • Set your circulator to 110F and place the jar in the bath.  Let it go for 8-12 hours.  I often do this before leaving for work or before going to bed, then remove once you return to your circulator.
  • Refrigerate jar for at least 6 hours.  Great substitute for sour cream and Mexican crema as well.

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