I remember when I first started making my own yogurt. I loved having it, loved the cheaper price, but dreaded the thought of making it. Heating the gallon of milk, watching that thermometer like a hawk, cooling the milk to exactly the right temperature, stirring in the cup of starter yogurt, then letting it set to yogurt-ize. (okay, what, then? Ferment? No, I’m pretty sure that’s the wrong word. Culture? Is that a verb? Maybe.) Anyway, I wanted to keep it very slightly warm overnight to do its thing…whatever you call that thing.
And it seemed that the absolute WORST part of making yogurt was the packaging. I like having it separated into serving-size containers so that I can just grab one when I’m ready to make a smoothie, but all the dipping and dripping and finding the right containers was a PAIN, especially since it felt like this job should be DONE already. After all, I’d spent an hour in the kitchen laboring over it the day before.
This morning I packaged up the yogurt that I made last night and marveled at how easy it was. That huge once-hated job can now be whipped through in about 3 minutes flat. No big deal. As I reflected on how I used to dread it, I realized that the key is experience. Now I know how, I have all the right tools, and I can simply do the job with no fuss.
Now I have learned to put the milk on the stove while I cook supper, bringing it to 180 degrees, then put the pot into a sink full of cold water to quickly bring it down to culture temp of 115 degrees before whisking in the starter. While the milk is cooling, I plug in the Crock Pot. As soon as I add the starter, I unplug it and dump in the yogurt. Then I cover the slightly-warmed crock with a double layer of beach towels and forget about it until morning.
And in the morning, it requires no thought to get out the 2 cup measure and scoop the yogurt into the 9 pint-sized freezer boxes, stack them up, and put the whole she-bang into the frig. Ta-DA! Done! Why did I once think this was hard?
Because it WAS hard. When I first started, I hadn’t caught on to the tricks. I was heating the milk oh-so-slowly so that I wouldn’t scorch it, then setting it on the counter to cool, stirring every ten minutes or so and checking the temperature. And it took FOREVER to cool down. Plus I was never sure how long to heat the crock, because I knew that if it was too hot– BOOM, my yogurt was ruined. When I packaged it, I didn’t know how many containers of what size worked, and ladles are drippy and annoying. With a 2-cup measure, I can dip exactly once for each container, and there are no dribbles oozing their way across the counter top and edges of the containers.
It’s amazing how much your mastery of a job can change just by DOING it.
I’m really hoping that this holds true for painting. Because I am doing it, but not well. Yet.