I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas; we had a lovely, relaxing day full of food, movies, board games and lots of wrapping paper bits littered all over the carpet. The tree has been taken down and the ornaments put away, and I’m thinking about the upcoming year.
I’m excited to share a recipe with you today that has been a long time in the making. If your new year’s resolution includes making more healthy foods from scratch like mine did last year, here is a good place to start!
I’ve been making yogurt for around a year and while the first few tries were hit and miss, I think I finally have the process figured out enough to share with you. So, if your yogurt doesn’t turn out at first, don’t give up! You’ll get it eventually. Just keep trying. 🙂
Store-bought yogurt is so expensive, and when you eat it as often as our family does, it goes way too quickly to justify paying 3-5 dollars or more on something that will be gone in a day or so.
Making homemade yogurt is decidedly more economical; you start with a gallon of milk and you end up with a gallon of yogurt. Which is awesome. So essentially you’re getting twice as much yogurt for the same price!
It’s also healthier, without any mystery chemicals to “add flavor and preserve freshness” and really, wouldn’t you rather put raw, local honey and fresh or frozen berries in your yogurt instead of scraping mushy, sugar laden fruit off the bottom of your yogurt cup? I know I would.
Yogurt is great for regulating your digestive tract and providing good bacteria to your body to help fight off infections and strengthen the immune system. If you’ve got a cold or are fighting off some bug, get some good bacteria in your body to help ward off those icky germs!
So, to make yogurt you need a few supplies. You might have all of them in your kitchen and not even know it!
A large, heavy-bottomed pot (I use my enameled cast iron dutch oven)
Measuring cup or funnel or both for pouring the milk into the glass jars
Glass jar (s) to put the yogurt in
A thermometer. A candy Thermometer is best, but a meat thermometer works too. Or you could get a fancy digital one.
A cooler big enough to hold your jars.
Then, of course you need:
Milk (remember, how ever much milk you start with will be your ending quantity, so make as much/little as you think you’d eat)
A starter culture of yogurt. I just use a little container of plain Greek yogurt from the grocery store. I use the Greek yogurt because it’s thicker to start with, and I think it makes better yogurt. I may just be making that up, but it does seem to produce thicker yogurt in the end.
Make sure your starter has live and active cultures, or else your yogurt won’t set. You need 1/2 cup per gallon, but I usually use the whole container no matter what size yogurt I make. That way the yogurt can just have extra cultures in it. 🙂
The Nitty Gritty:
Start by putting your milk into the pan on a medium- low heat. You want the milk to heat slowly to 175-179F degrees, just under the boiling point; without scalding.
DON”T let it get to boiling! The milk will explode and over flow and separate into what looks like ricotta cheese.
Just keep checking the temperature with the thermometer and stirring the milk every few minutes and when it starts getting tiny bubbles on top, you know you’re getting close.
Once you get to 175-179F, turn off the stove and remove the pan from the heat.
Let your milk cool until it gets down to 120F. This will take several minutes. I usually load the dishwasher while I’m waiting. 🙂
Once the temperature reads 120 degrees, carefully whisk in your starter culture of yogurt. If you add the yogurt cultures before you get down to 120, the heat will kill the bacteria and your yogurt won’t set, so make sure you wait until it’s the right temp.
Whisk until the clumps are broken up. The milk will already be starting to get little tiny bits of solids in it. Pour your milk into quart or half-gallon or even gallon-size wide mouth glass jars.
Wipe off the excess milk you spilled and then place your jar(s) into a cooler.
Pour 120 degree water (if your hot water heater is on the lowest temperature, just turn your sink to hot and that will be the right temp) into the cooler until water is about 1 inch below the lid of the jar and close the cooler.
Let your yogurt set for 12-24 hours in the cooler at room temperature.
I usually let it go the whole 24 hours to ensure that it gets nice and thick. The yogurt will get more sour the longer you let it set, but it won’t spoil unless you leave it out way longer than 24 hours.
Check to see if the yogurt is thickened, then place in the fridge to chill.
There will be a yellowish liquid in with your yogurt; which is called whey. This is normal.
It’s actually full of proteins and you can save it to put into bread, or feed it to your animals, or just mix it into the yogurt. Or if you think it’s gross; pour the whey out.
Once you’ve made a successful batch of yogurt, save out 1/2 cup to a cup of your yogurt for the next batch. No need to buy a starter every time! How cool is that?
The yogurt will taste different than store-bought plain yogurt- it will be more sour but by no means bad. Just add some honey or jam and top with granola or fresh fruit and enjoy your healthy, delicious, homemade yogurt!
Shared at Wildcrafting Wednesday and