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Why physicists shouldn’t cook June 11, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in food/cooking.
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Now that summer has arrived and I can eat berries again, I have been looking forward to one of my favorite summer time foods: yogurt smoothies.  I decided a while ago, however, that I didn’t want to keep buying yogurt from the store.  I’m cheap and hate paying as much as I do for yogurt.  What bothers me more, however, is the huge number of plastic tubs that we go through.  I also understand that they add a lot of thickeners rather than fermenting it completely, stuff I wouldn’t have to worry about with homemade yogurt.  So I bought a yogurt maker and started experimenting.

It turns out that yogurt making is very simple, and even the process of making Greek yogurt only adds an additional step.  (You have to strain the yogurt to make it Greek, but I advise doing this when the yogurt has already been cooled or it becomes yogurt cheese.)  You can make thicker yogurt by adding gelatin, but I prefer just straining it.

I’ve been doing it for a month now and have a system down.  So far, so good.

And then I got the bright idea of making chocolate yogurt, which I attempted yesterday.  I looked around on the web but didn’t find anyone else who’d attempted this, just talked about how it was a good idea.  I was so looking forward to trying it last night because it smelled wonderful.  I imagined it would be just like eating chocolate mousse.

I should have been clued in that something was up when I realized that it was done after only about 5 hours.  Usually it takes 6 to 8 hours to make a batch.

Then I tasted it, and it was incredibly sour…moreso than any other yogurt I made.

After about ten minutes, I realized that I had overlooked something obvious: the little beasties that convert lactose to lactic acid probably acidify sucrose, as well.  Sure enough, I found an abstract that says they’re even better at utilizing glucose and fructose than they are at lactose.  In fact, that’s exactly how soy and coconut yogurt are made.

Of course, if I were a biologist, maybe this would’ve been obvious before I’d ever made the mistake.  However, I’m still taking my very sour chocolate milk yogurt and see how it does as a base for smoothies.  I imagine it’ll taste awfully good with bananas and berries mixed in.

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