We eat a lot of plain yogurt and use it in a lot in recipes too. Sometimes, rarely, I make my own yogurt. Since we use so much, it is a bit of a mess to make it every other day. So, we usually just buy Dannon or Stoneyfield or Brown Cow.
I posted a recipe a while back for making yogurt in a Slow Cooker (AKA CrockPot). Up until then, that was the easiest method I had found. But, I recently came across one even easier that may inspire me to make my own yogurt more regularly. It is from Daisy at Our Growing Family.
Basically to make yogurt, you have to:
- Heat the milk to 180 degrees F to kill any bacteria that may already be lurking in it (probably not any if you open a new container of already pasteurized milk, but we will do it to be extra careful) and to improve the texture of the finished yogurt.
- Let the milk cool to the 110-115 degree F range and add your yogurt culture either as a packet of yogurt starter such as “Yogourmet” freeze-dried yogurt starter or by using some already made yogurt, either your own or some store-bought plain yogurt with living cultures in it.
- Let the bacteria eating all the milk sugar over time in a warm environment. Depending on how much lactose (if any) you want left determines the time. Normally, it is anywhere from 6-12 hours, but some folks who are on special diets restricting sugars go even longer to get rid of almost all the lactose.
My problem is with the third step. Room temperature here is not warm enough to keep the yogurt in the range for the culture to grow. I have an electric oven, so no warm gas oven with a pilot light to store it in. In the old days, my grandmother used to put her yogurt to make on top of her hot water heater. Also, I don’t want to deal with coolers and wrapping things in layers of towels…too much mess and hassle, especially if you have to do it every other day.
With this new method, after you mix yogurt culture into your warm milk, you jar it, put lids on very tight, put back in pot you heated milk in originally, cover with very hot water, put on lid and wait 8 hours. The hot water and the insulation of the pot keep it warm enough. Plus, the pot soaking with water in it gets rid of any milk residue stuck to the bottom.
- Use whole milk. It will give you thick yogurt without having to add gelatin or dried milk powder.
Many folks think that the industrial process for drying milk does bad things to the proteins.
- The way I determined how much milk to use was this: I found the big pot I wanted to use. Then I found three glass containers with lids that would all fit in it with the pot’s lid on. I filled each container up with milk to about 1.5 inches from the top (leaves room for the yogurt culture), and that is my measurement. Later, you will also need about 2 Tbsp of plain yogurt for each jar.
- Heat milk in your pot (not in the jars) to about 180 degrees F – watch for it to start to bubble or frothe around the edges (but not boiling). Take the milk off the heat and let it cool to about 115 degrees F. Keep checking on it as you don’t want it too cool too much.
- Once the milk has cooled, put about a cup or so of the warm milk in a one of your jars and gently stir in the yogurt or starter. Don’t stir too much if using actual yogurt – just enough to gently incorporate the yogurt. Then, pour that back into the milk and swirl it around.
- Pour the milk into jars, place lid on tightly. Place the jars into the pan you used to heat the milk, less dishes to wash that way. It doesn’t matter if you’ve cleaned out the pan or if there is a bit of milk left at the bottom.
- Pour HOT water over the jars, up to the rims. I used almost boiling water from my countertop electric kettle.
- Put the lid on the pot and let it sit undisturbed for at least 8 hours or overnight. If you are nervous about it staying warm enough, you can drape a towel over the pot to help keep the heat in, but I didn’t.
- After the wait is over, check your yogurt to see if it’s about the right consistency and thickness. Put it in the fridge for a few hours to stop the process and cool the yogurt.
If you want Greek Yogurt, then as I talked about in my previous post, all you have to do is strain it. Simply put a strainer lined with cheese cloth over a container, pour the yogurt in the strainer, and let sit for a few hours or overnight. I use a container I can put in the fridge. You can use the liquid that collects in the lower container, the whey in other things such as baking or for soaking oats, other grains, or beans.
We enjoyed our freshly made yogurt for breakfast with homemade granola and a little honey on top.