Since my milk-mentioning posts of last week, I've been hearing from lots of you asking how we make yogurt. I consider myself nothing of an expert on the subject, but...we have been making a gallon of yogurt each week with much ease and many happy bellies for quite some time, and so that counts for something, right? With that as a qualifier, here's how WE make yogurt. (If you're looking for more information about dairy making, my two favorite resources for cheese, yogurt and the like are: The Home Creamery by Kathy Ferrel-Kingsley and Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carrol.)
a stockpot large enough to hold all the milk
jars or containers for storing the yogurt in
starter yogurt (I use the last bits of the previous weeks yogurt, but store-bought yogurt works! Look for plain yogurt with live cultures)
as much milk as you'd like to make yogurt (ie. a quart of milk makes roughly a quart of yogurt)
I make yogurt with raw cow's milk because that's what we drink and
have, but I believe the process is the same for low-fat or skim milk,
and goat or sheep's milk. *And I've been reminded in the comments (thank you!) that most grocery store "organic" milk is ultra-pasteurized to ensure longer shelf life. Ultra-pasteurized milk is not known to become yogurt easily!
- Be sure all jars and containers are super clean!
- Heat the milk over medium heat to 180º.
- Remove from heat, and bring to 110º. I do this rather quickly by placing the entire stockpot inside a large bowl of cold water (or a plugged sink full would do the trick too). Just be careful not to get the water in the pot with the milk (says she who's done that more times than not).
- When the milk has reached 110º, add your starter yogurt. I use 1/4 cup per quart (or 2 cups for a gallon). Stir well.
- Pour yogurt into the containers. I use either 1quart glass Ball jars or a one gallon jar. Do not place the lids on yet!
- Now...here's where you need to "incubate" your yogurt for 7-10 hours at 110º. If you have an oven that can set and maintain at 110º, do that and consider yourself very lucky! If - like me - your oven won't cooperate, it's time for a little science experimenting. I've heard of people who use a spot near a woodstove (this works well for us in the wintertime), a picnic cooler with blankets, or in a gas oven with just the pilot light on. After lots of trial and error (and thanks to the internets), I've found that the most consistent success I have is with an electric heating pad. I place it atop a baking sheet at medium heat, place the jars directly on the pad, and cover with a blanket, or towel. This will keep the heat in and allow the culture to grow in your yogurt.
- You'll eventually find just the right place and the right length of time to get the yogurt just how you like it. I find that 8 hours is plenty of time to make it thick enough for our liking. Once the time is up, place lids on the jars and store in the refrigerator. They will thicken up a bit in there as well.
- Enjoy your yogurt! It might take a bit to get used to the taste of fresh homemade yogurt if you're used to a sweetened commercial alternative. But, oh the yummy fresh stuff is so good. I love it plain, but the kids love a bit of honey or maple syrup in there. Add fresh fruit and granola and you've got yourself the yummiest breakfast of all (or so say my children).
Note: Be sure to read the comments of this post to hear many variations on how people make their own yogurt to find a style that suits you!
For your future reference, a link to this post now resides on my Tutorials, Recipes and Patterns page.