Ok, I’m posting my method for homemade yogurt…several of you have asked for it and I’ve made you wait long enough.
Something to keep you reading:
Yogurt was always an “okay” food as far as I was concerned, I really could take it or leave it. About a year ago a friend of mine kept mentioning how she made her own yogurt and I decided to give it a try. I fine tuned my own method combined with others I have read about.
As you may know, I have 3 sons and boy do they love yogurt! We could take out a second mortgage just to keep them in yogurt. So I thought since they eat so much, it would be healthier and cheaper to make my own. I liked the idea that I would know everything in the yogurt they would be eating, plus get to keep my house. Good deal. That is often how I decide if I need to make the effort to prepare something from scratch – if it’s an item we eat a lot of, I think that might be cause for me to think about making the item myself. I know store-bought yogurt has a lot of added ingredients that I’m pretty sure are unnecessary, or at least not natural. I don’t love the idea that my kids are eating a lot of unnatural foods or ingredients and try to avoid it whenever possible.
Now that I’ve been making homemade yogurt I have a whole new emotion about yogurt – I love love love it! It is so dreamy and yummy. Store-bought yogurt has nothing on this stuff! I make ours a gallon at a time, and I make it about once a week or every 10 days or so. I think it lasts for awhile in the refrigerator, we just never let it in there that long. I love that I can offer this as a snack to my kids (or myself) or to accompany breakfast or as a sweet treat after a meal. This was also the yogurt I gave my baby (now almost 2) when he was starting to eat yogurt.
This may seem a little complicated when you first read through it, but really, once you do it a couple times, it will be no big deal.
Start by pouring milk into a large pot. I make a gallon of yogurt at a time, so that means I use a gallon of milk.
You can use whole milk or 2%. I have used both. If you use 2% milk, I recommend you use a thickening agent. I use a packet of unflavored gelatin. Sprinkle it on top of the milk on the stove, let it sit a bit to dissolve and then stir it in. However, sometimes I think it’s worth the little bit of extra fat to just use whole milk – the texture is so wonderful and thick.
Heat milk on medium or medium-low heat. It took me several batches of yogurt to realize that I should NOT heat the milk on high. Heating it at a lower temperature prevents the milk from getting extra brown on the bottom. My milk always gets brown on the bottom of the pan, but it scrapes off after I’m done making the yogurt, just don’t scrape the bottom while you are stirring your yogurt. If you have a thicker bottomed pot it may not brown at all.
Heat the milk to 185-195 degrees.
Take the milk off the heat and let sit for about an hour. If you are in a hurry you can place the pot in cold water to hurry the cooling process, but it just makes the process a little more work. I check the milk periodically and give it a stir, but you can just let it sit. Cool to 120 degrees.
***update: I now add my sugar at this point instead of waiting to add it to the finished product. After the milk has cooled to 120 degrees I stir in the yogurt culture and then I stir in the sugar. I use about a 1/2 cup sugar and then taste it. I also think you use much less sugar this way.
For the very first time you make yogurt you’ll have to buy a “starter”, basically a container of plain yogurt from the store. Just make sure the label says that it contains live cultures. I use a 6-8oz of yogurt for a gallon batch. After the first time, save some of your yogurt each time to be your starter. I put mine in its own jar so I don’t have to remember to save it.
When the milk has cooled to 120 it’s time to stir in the live cultures. I take a bit of my warm milk and mix it into the starter,
then I mix it into the big pot of milk.
I like to whisk everything together until well blended. Here is my yogurt in jars all ready…isn’t it lovely!? I get excited every time I see them there, all ready to go. I use canning jars just because I prefer glass and I like having it in quart containers, but I don’t think there is a reason that you can’t use plastic.
I place my jars in a small cooler filled a bit with warm water. I turn my faucet on and let the water run until it’s hot.
Then let your yogurt sit somewhere for about 4 hours and up to 12 hours. Note: do NOT move it!! Don’t even move your yogurt a little, it messes up the setting process, just leave it alone! I didn’t know this the first time I made yogurt and I totally messed it up. Apparently the longer you let your yogurt sit, the more tart it becomes, but I can’t always tell. You’ll have to do a little trial and error. I usually let mine sit for 5-6 hours and then put it right in the fridge, without sloshing it around too much. I also let it chill overnight. The next morning it looks like this:
Thennnnnnn…..here is your final result! oh. yum. yum.
We eat our yogurt a couple of ways. Above is plain yogurt, with some sugar and fresh berries. I think this is my favorite. The way I usually prepare it (when fresh berries aren’t available) is to puree some thawed frozen fruit, stir that into the yogurt with sugar, and waaa la! a fabulous, delicious treat! I usually flavor 1 or 2 quarts of yogurt at a time, just so I don’t have to do it every time someone wants yogurt.
A note about Greek yogurt: yes, you can definitely make this style as well. Just strain regular yogurt through a paper towel or cheesecloth in a strainer over a bowl. Let it sit in the refrigerator for a couple hours. You can’t really make Greek style yogurt when you use unflavored gelatin as a thickener because the gelatin binds to the whey (that’s the clear, liquidy stuff that you see in yogurt and sour cream).
I hope you try this out for yourself! I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Milk, whole or 2%
1 packet of unflavored gelatin if using 2% milk
6-8 oz of yogurt containing live cultures
Pour milk into large pot, sprinkle gelatin over top if using. Let sit until it starts to “melt” and then stir in until well combined. Heat milk on med-low to medium heat until milk reaches a temperature of 185-195. Use a candy thermometer to check temperature. Let milk cool to 120 degrees. Take a small portion of warmed milk and mix it with yogurt starter; stir back into large pot with a wire wisk until well combined. Pour yogurt into containers, place in a cooler with warm water. Sit cooler in a place where the yogurt will be undisturbed for 5-12 hours. Remove containers and thoroughly chill in the refrigerator. Flavor with sugar and fruit and enjoy!