Making Yogurt

Stop grimacing! It’s not gross, I swear, and it’s not going to give you food poisoning. Making yogurt isn’t some special highly-complicated process best left to the pros, it is a simple food that any one of you can make at home. Why make it at home? It is cost-effective. A gallon of homemade yogurt costs you just what a gallon of milk does. Compared to cheap yogurt, this is at least  4 times cheaper, and compared to more expensive organic or Greek-style yogurt, it is just a fraction of the cost. It’s also much healthier – store bought yogurts often contain artificial sweeteners and flavors, high fructose corn-syrup, preservatives, and animal-based gelatin. It is also much better tasting – it has the delightful tartness of yogurt, without the sourness so prevalent in store-bought brands. It is the perfect companion to a big bowl of muesli in the morning, with a little drizzle of honey on top. Here is the summarized recipe, click below for the full details

yogurt in bowl

-Boil milk
-Cool milk to slightly warmer than body temp
-Whisk in a little existing yogurt
-Put in glass jars
-Keep warm in blankets for 8 hours
-Refrigerate for 5 hours

There are two basic ingredients in yogurt: milk, and yogurt. Make sure your yogurt starter contains Live Active Cultures (how the magic happens), and is unflavored. After this first batch, you will never have to buy yogurt again. You can use any kind of milk you like – 1%, 2%, whole, soy – really, whatever. So far we’ve tried 1%, which turned out very thin. This last time we used 2% and it turned out nice and thick, that is what is shown in the pic up top.  I’d recommend you start out with a half-gallon of milk. For us, that is about 4 days worth. We’re now up to making a gallon at a time, and so far have not experienced any yogurt going bad before we get to eat it. Now, here’s the process:

  • Take a large pot with a lid and rinse the inside with water. This will help reduce the amount of milk stuck to the pot later.
  • Pour in your milk, put on the lid, and turn the stove on to medium heat.
  • Your goal is to get the milk to boiling – then hold it there for 10-20 minutes (depending on how thick you want your yogurt). Boiling milk is tricky, though, because it burns and boils over very easily. You can leave the milk alone for about 5-10 minutes while it heats up, but it will soon require pretty close supervision and constant stirring. Make sure to really scrape the bottom of the pot, so as to prevent burnt spots.
  • You will know it is boiling when the surface gently ripples and gets foamy. It is not like the fast-bubbling boil of water. If the level begins to raise, immediately take it off the heat until it settles, then turn your heat down. Milk can go from barely boiling to a stove top disaster in less than 30 seconds.
  • When you have boiled for as long as you desire, remove your pot from the heat, take off the lid, and leave it alone to cool. You want to be able to dip your finger in the milk and leave it there for about 15 seconds. Any hotter, and you’ll kill the live active cultures, any cooler, and it won’t be warm enough for them to proportionate. This usually takes around 30-45 minutes, but you really don’t have to monitor it closely, just check in every 10 minutes or so.
  • Take 1 tablespoon per half-gallon (or more) of the original yogurt, and put it in a bowl. Whisk in about a cup of the warm milk, then whisk that milk-yogurt back into the large pot.
  • Pour your yogurt into glass jars, wrap in warm blankets or towels, and leave it somewhere warm for 8 hours.
  • After the 8 hours is up, you have yogurt! Of course, right now, it is pretty thin. Refrigerate it for 4-5 hours and it will thicken right up.

I find the best timing is to do it on a weekend morning – I can get everything mixed up and in jars, and refrigerate it before we go to bed – so we have fresh, cool yogurt for breakfast the next day!


One response to “Making Yogurt

  1. Kevin Coleman

    If the yogurt is thin, try adding milk powder. Adding 1/2 cup per quart is about right. Stir it in well just before adding the yogurt starter. This makes the milk and yogurt thicker without adding any fat.

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