incubation experiments.1

10 Jul

When I make yogurt at home, I wrap it in a couple of dish towels and set it right above the pilot light overnight. This keeps it at about 115 degrees, which is a little cool but close to perfect for yogurt incubation.

When I’m on my bike, it won’t be so simple. So, I’m in an experimental stage of yogurt incubation tests. My uncle is being a big help, encouraging all sorts of set-ups with black plastic bags and using water heated by the sun, and I’m excited by one of the ideas he just recently came up with.

This weekend’s experiment was incredibly simple, and surprisingly successful, although I had to modify it a big when the cloud cover started rolling in later in the afternoon…a natural shift in the weather that I’m going to have to be able to adapt to on the road, too.

I was housesitting in Oak Park, in a house with a backyard that got full sun all afternoon, so I took advantage of the nasty summer heat (sympathies to the East coast, where it was worse) and just set my jar on the rocks.

I think it would have been better to wrap it in a black plastic bag. The jar wasn’t actually that hot to the touch (I left my thermometer in Hyde Park), so I think the glass and white yogurt actually reflected the heat I wanted insulated. I had to leave once the clouds came, so I heated up a big pot of water, started preheating the oven, turned off all of the burners, and shut the yogurt in the oven in hot water, hoping their new oven kept its heat better than mine.

It did! The yogurt came out runnier and grainer than usual (the latter I am pretty sure is because of this kind of milk, I’m not a big fan, even though it is raw), but it did sour into yogurt, so I’m encouraged by future plans of solar ovens in various forms. Stay tuned!

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