I have recently begun making my own yogurt, and I'm excited to tell you how so you never buy yogurt from the store again!! This is not like baking bread or a standing rib roast! It requires no great skill at all! And I personally am saving almost $300 a year!
Here's what you'll need:
2 quarts of milk
A carton of plain yogurt
Quart mason jars with lids
Pot in which to heat milk
Dehydrator -- OR -- a cooler, heating pad, and towels
Ready?? Ok, a few words about ingredients here ...
Milk: Pasteurized, raw, skim, whole ... any kind will do, but skim will result in a runnier yogurt. It's important to sterilize it, hence the pot and thermometer. We'll get to that.
Yogurt: Any plain yogurt will do as long as it has live, active cultures in it. I prefer organic, but you can use your preference.
Um ... ok. Milk, yogurt, um .... yep. That's it! Let's do it.
Set your yogurt on the counter to let it warm a little.
Pour your 2 quarts of milk into your pot on the stove top and warm it to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. This may take about 20 minutes or so. Just keep rechecking every few minutes. This is especially important if using raw milk because the bacteria in the milk (albeit healthy for you) will compete with the bacteria in the yogurt -- they don't like to share tight quarters!
|Sorry for the slightly blurry picture! It was a challenge to take the picture quickly while turning off the stove! :-)|
**If you prefer raw yogurt, stop heating between 100 - 110 degrees F to preserve the enzymes.
Once it has reached 180 degrees, let it cool to 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit (I prefer about 100). Leaving the jars on the counter for 1.5-3 hours will usually do the trick, depending on room temperature.
Put 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt in each quart mason jar. Be sure your jars are sterilized (fresh out of the dishwasher is fine). If you choose to use raw milk without pasteurizing it, use 3 tablespoons of yogurt starter per quart of milk to give it a boost.
After your milk has cooled, pour it into your jars and gently stir.
Remember, these are living organisms so stirring is better than shaking. Put your lids on, and it's time to incubate.
You can use any area that is likely to stay between 90 - 110 degrees Fahrenheit: a hot window sill in the summer, warm car, slow cooker filled with water on low (check the temperature), etc. Many people lay a heating pad in the bottom of a cooler, place a towel over it, and put their jars on the towel. I've never tried this method myself, but I've read manysuccessful testimonials.
I use my dehydrator set on 100 degrees F.
If you find your yogurt went too far and the whey separated out, you can either remix it or strain it with a cheese cloth for a thicker, greek-style yogurt. If you've never seen whey separated in a cultured dairy product, here's a picture so you know what to look for. The clear, yellowish liquid at the bottom is whey. Don't throw it out! It's incredibly healthy! Just throw it in a smoothie if you don't know what else to do with it. It's also a perfect medium for soaking your grains or beans, too.
Remember, probiotics survive freezing temperatures, so try freezing your yogurt in an ice cube tray and drop them in the blender for smoothies! Or mix all of your yogurt in a blender with a little sugar or stevia and a splash of vanilla for store-bought taste and texture. Any way you serve it, you're getting great probiotics and padding your wallet at the same time! Happy incubating!
Until next time,