You can thank me today. You can thank me tomorrow. You can thank me every day for what I'm about to tell you.
Let's start with how to prevent scorching in the first place:
1. Choose the right pot. When heating milk for yogurt, pudding, or any other preparation, reach for a heavy saucepan. This is the time to bring out the stainless steel or enameled cast-iron with some weight. Leave cheaper, thinner-gauge pots behind.
2. Ice your pot. This tip, which appears in Yogurt Culture thanks to early, excellent advice from Alana Chernila (a founding Team Yogurt contributor), helps prevent milk from adhering to your saucepan. Just rub an ice cube vigorously along the bottom and up the sides of your pot. (Inside the pot! Not outside.)
3. Moderate your heat. Always heat milk over medium (or, if you must, medium-high) heat; never high.
4. Don't leave. The surest way to burn milk, have it bubble over into a catastrophic mess, or scorch the bottom of your pot is to leave the room. The moment you step out the door, the milk knows.
If, despite your best efforts, you still manage to char the inside of your saucepan after making yogurt or heating milk for another application, cleaning it off is easy, providing you do these two things:
1. Sprinkle and squeeze. Sprinkle in a bit of baking soda (a light coating is fine) and squeeze in a bit of dish soap. (The kind you use to hand-wash dishes.) Then add about 1 to 2 inches of tap water.
2. Heat and scrape. Set the pot over low heat, and bring to a simmer. Once steam appears, gently scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. The charred remains of your sad milk will lift right off (as in the photo here).
Now go forth and make some amazing yogurt.
Credits: Words + Photograph © Cheryl Sternman Rule