Joy in the Journey
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Joy in the Journey

Making Yogurt

Pay attention, or you’ll end up making something else.

If you’re a very good cook shaking your head at me, I completely understand. I mean, how hard can it be to make yogurt? We’re talking two ingredients: 42 ounces of milk and about 7 ounces of starter yogurt. Well, if you include heat as an ingredient, then we have three. Ahh yes — heat — the tricky part of the recipe.

The first time I made that tangy, smooth substance with my home yogurt maker I watched the video a few times and followed the directions closely.

  • Let the milk and yogurt warm up to room temperature.
  • Heat the milk to 180 degrees, stirring often.
  • Cool the milk to 100 degrees in an ice bath.
  • Pour off one cup of the milk into a glass or bowl, and the rest into a pitcher.
  • Blend the yogurt with the milk set aside until smooth.
  • Pour yogurt mix back into the pitcher, stir, and fill the jars in the yogurt maker.
  • Set the timer for 10 hours and leave it alone until it’s done

Clearly this is not complicated. But unless I carefully follow each step that involves heat, I run the risk of making a lower quality yogurt or something completely different. My first batch of yogurt turned out perfectly. “OK, I’m in!” I thought, “I’ll have awesome homemade yogurt every day for the rest of my life.”

That thought held until my second batch that was different somehow but still good. By my third batch, it looked yogurt-like but tasted like cottage cheese. The next batch was ricotta cheese, and then… I humbled myself and went back to the directions and watched the video a couple more times.

It turns out when and how I add and remove heat makes the difference between yogurt and several types of cheese. To get yogurt, I have to pay attention and not multi-task. I have to carefully watch the temperature going up and then bring it back down before blending the starter yogurt. My latest batch will be ready in the morning, we’ll see if I got it right.

This reminds me of building and keeping relationships with people: pay attention, carefully watch the temperature, and blend in just enough love to make it grow.

Life is a team sport. Pay attention to the details to get the basic, yet important things right.

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Paul Berggren

I help people listen and learn from each other. As President of Crown Global HR, I bring clarity to growing and hiring people.