I blogged about homemade yogurt here, and decided I would post about how I make yogurt. There are instructions all over the web, but I have my own little way of doing it. Here we go!!!
You will need:
- 1/2 gallon of milk--I use 2% simply because I need a little fat to help me feel full for longer. You can use whatever percent you choose. Just know that the further away you get from whole milk, your yogurt will not be as firm.
- Powdered milk--I use non-instant that I get from Azure Standard. I used 1/4 cup the first time I added this and 1/2 cup the second time. I didn't see any difference in texture between the two. An added benefit of incorporating the powdered milk is that it adds protein to your yogurt.
- 3/4 cup plain yogurt with live and active cultures. I prefer to use Mountain High, Cascade, Brown Cow or Trader Joe's.
- Whisk or fork and a spoon
- Measuring cup
- Thermometer--a candy thermometer will work well. I have a digital meat thermometer that I attach to the side of my pan with a clothespin. I like that because it beeps when it reaches the right temperature--allows me to do a little less babysitting.
- Jars with lids or a glass or ceramic bowl with a lid. I used a casserole dish for a couple of years. Now I use quart sized Mason jars with plastic lids. They take up less space in the fridge. (My picture has metal lids because all my plastic lids are currently in use.)
- Playmate cooler with hot water (about 118º to 120º) OR large heavy bath towel
If you are using a cooler to incubate your yogurt, go ahead and get this ready. You will want enough water in the cooler to come up to at least the mid-line level of your jars. Make sure that water is not over 120º. For several years, I simply used a heavy bath towel folded in half to incubate my yogurt. I just made sure I placed the jars in a relatively warm place. This using the cooler and hot water is new to me, but it feels like I am doing more to make the yogurt. I always worried that the temp was not good enough just leaving it covered on the counter.
While the milk is cooling, place your yogurt into a bowl. When the milk reaches 118º, spoon some of the warm milk into the yogurt and whisk it up. This is similar to tempering eggs. Pour your yogurt into your pan of milk and mix well. I really like using a whisk as this will break up any "lumps" of yogurt. Pour your mixture into the jars or bowl. Wipe the lip clean with a damp paper towel and put the lids in place.
Put the jars into the cooler or in a warm spot in your kitchen. Close the lid to the cooler or cover with the towel. You want to leave this undisturbed for 6 to 8 hours.
When the time is up, carefully look to see if the yogurt has solidified. If there is a yellowish liquid on top, don't worry. It is just the whey. You will see more of it as you begin to use the yogurt. You can dump it out or stir it back into the yogurt. If you decide to dump it out, I recommend saving it in another jar in your fridge. The whey can be used in any recipe that uses buttermilk. Let me tell you, it makes wonderful pancakes! You can also line a strainer with cheesecloth, dump your yogurt in, put the strainer over a bowl and place it in the fridge. This will give you a thick Greek yogurt-like consistency. You can also use this in the place of cream cheese.
Oops, I digressed. Once your yogurt has cultured, place it in the fridge to cool completely. You do not want to dig in until it cools off--it will be a runny mess if you do, and really, who likes warm yogurt.
There you go. Save some for your next batch. After a while, it may lose it's potency and you will need to buy more plain yogurt to use as a starter.
Happy yogurt making and eating!