Living in a foreign country forces you to get creative.
We've created some simple fixes using duct tape and glue all to avoid a humiliating trip to the store.
We've made bread because bread here can be funky.
And most recently, we've started making our own yogurt.
It's just something you've gotta do in Korea because it's pretty hard to find good, plain yogurt. They tend to favor the watery, sugary, drinkable kind. As it turns out, it's a fairly easy process and requires very few materials. You basically just need milk, live culture yogurt, a thermometer, a measuring cup, and some kind of incubator (more on that later).
Start by pouring 8 cups of milk into a large saucepan.
We rigged this dandy little hanging thermometer to be able to monitor the temperature of the milk without sticking it in and taking it out every five minutes.
Now you need to scald the milk by heating it until it is just about ready to boil. There will be little bubbles that form around the edge of the pan and it only takes a few minutes. You don't want the milk to actually boil, but just be a few degrees below boiling (95 degrees Celsius or 203 degrees Fahrenheit). After you reach this point, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the burner.
Now you need the milk to cool to about 42 degrees Celsius or 108 degrees Fahrenheit. This could take an hour on the counter or ten minutes in a cold water/ice bath. It depends on how much time you have to work with. We usually start our yogurt on a Sunday morning so we can monitor it during the day, so we aren't in a big hurry worth drawing an ice bath.
Once the milk has cooled to the right temperature (42C, 108F), you need to add 4 tablespoons of live active cultures. This is what makes the milk react and grow and create yogurt. You can simply buy a carton of yogurt at the store in order to start your yogurt or (as I did) you can reserve 4 tablespoons from the previous batch and use it in the next batch.
Whisk the yogurt into the milk and put the milk into a dish with a lid.
There are several methods you can use to incubate or keep your yogurt warm. You can buy an electric incubator. Some people use coolers. Some people use heating pads. Or you can simply use your oven like we did. We put the lid on our container, stick the thermometer inside, and wrap it all up in a towel. We keep the door closed and wait. Regardless of which method you choose, you want the milk to stay a constant temperature of roughly 42 degrees Celsius or 108 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some sources say that just leaving your oven light on will keep the yogurt warm enough, but our light doesn't stay on when we close the door, so every hour or two we just reheat the oven slightly. It's a bit more labor intensive, but it's what we've got and it works all right.
We usually let our yogurt sit for about 12 hours. But some people do it as little as 7, so experiment with what works best for you. The longer you leave it the more tangy it will be. Last weekend, we started ours in the morning, incubated all day, and then forgot about it before we went to bed and by the time we remembered the next morning it had been 24 hours! It was slightly more tangy, but all was not lost and it tasted fine.
I found this blog to be quite helpful in "fixing" yogurt that is runny or chunky.
As soon as your yogurt is done, I recommend setting aside 4 tablespoons of yogurt for your next batch. Otherwise you'll eat it all and have to go buy more yogurt at the store.
There are tons and tons of different variations on yogurt. Everything from how to incubate, what kind of milk to use, how to add flavors or sweetener, etc. For my first time, I referred to this blog about how to make Greek yogurt. We haven't actually made Greek yogurt, because the straining process feels like we are wasting yogurt.