Testing the Temperature of Your Dehydrator for Yogurt-Making
Doesn't it feel wonderful when the temperature begins to rise just a bit? It doesn't take much warmth to give me that feeling that spring is finally coming to Portland. For us fermenters, rising temperatures mean easier fermenting conditions for many different foods. When it comes to yogurt, however, to me, that still means thermophilic yogurt made in my dehydrator for a little while longer.
Around our house, we've been avoiding dairy for several months. Now that we're ready to give some fermented dairy a try, I can't recall what setting I use on my dehydrator. Yikes! Time for a little water test.
I have a 9-tray box dehydrator from Excalibur, which has lots of space for yogurt jars. This unit has a temperature dial, but I am not able to set it exactly at 110ºF, so I want to do a trial run before making yogurt, to avoid wasting milk and yogurt starter.
Here's how I do it:
First, I heat a pot of water to just over 110ºF.
There is no need to use filtered water or a special pot for this test. The water is not going to come in contact with your milk or yogurt. Just any pot and a kitchen thermometer.
A note on using the thermometer: Most thermometers need to be submerged to a certain depth to read properly, usually 1-2 inches.
Look for the little notch at the bottom of your thermometer or read the instructions that came with it.
Next, I pour the water into a jar, just as if I were making yogurt, wait for it to cool to 110ºF...
and place the jar in my dehydrator.
As you can see, I have removed the trays from my unit so the jar with thermometer can easily fit.
I like to leave the thermometer in the jar during the test. It's easier for me to remove the jar and read the temperature quickly. I feel like it's more accurate.
Run the dehydrator at 110ºF, or as close as you can set your dial, for several hours. Read the temperature every hour or so. Is the water getting too hot? Nudge the dial down just a bit and run the test for a few more hours. Give the water time to adjust to the new setting.
Once your water is holding steady at around 108-112ºF, you've found the right setting for making thermophilic yogurt. I like to take a marker or sliver of colored tape and mark the spot as accurately as I can. That way, every time you want to make yogurt, you can set your dial to just the right spot.
That's it! Now for some delicious Greek Yogurt!