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How to Make Yogurt

How to Make Yogurt

A couple years ago Marshall and I were watching an episode of Good Eats where Alton Brown makes yogurt.  I was shocked at how simple it was, it doesn’t even require any special equipment!  We eat a lot of organic yogurt which is expensive and that show gave me the confidence to attempt to make it myself.  I’ve made yogurt many times since then.  It’s simple, cheap and tastes even better than store bought.  The hardest part of the whole process is waiting for the milk to heat up!  Here’s the method that works best for us…

How to Make Yogurt

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 gallon milk – I prefer whole milk but any kind will do
  • 2 Tablespoons of already made plain yogurt – make sure it specifies “live cultures”

Supplies:

  • (2) quart size mason jars
  • Thermometer
  • Cooler
  • 2 large ziploc bags

Directions:

  • Pour your milk into a large pot and heat gradually to 175 degrees.  Most recipes direct you to use low heat, but this takes forever!  I normally use medium low or sometimes medium heat without problem.  Just make sure you stir regularly to prevent burning and don’t let it come to a boil.
  • Once it reaches 175, remove from the heat and let it cool to 110 degrees.  You can put it in a sink of cold water to make it cool faster but be careful not to cool it too much – yogurt cultures do best in the 105-115 range.  If it drops below this, reheat it gently until you get back to 110.
  • Now add the plain yogurt and mix thoroughly.  To prevent clumps it helps to scoop out about a cup of the warm milk, put it in a bowl, whisk your plain yogurt into that and then add it back to the big pot.
  • Next pour the mixture into mason jars and cap tightly.  At this point they need to incubate at around 110 degrees F.  The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to wrap the jars in a towel and to nestle them in an insulated cooler along with a couple large ziploc bags filled with hot tap water. Nestle them nice and cozy, if there’s a lot of empty space in your cooler add another towel or blanket to help maintain temperature.
  • Let them sit undisturbed for 8 hours or so.  If the yogurt hasn’t thickened by then, refill the bags with hot water and let it sit for another 4 hours or so.  The timing doesn’t have to be exact, but the longer it sits, the more sour (and the more digestible) it becomes.
  • Once it’s thickened, transfer the containers to the fridge and enjoy your homemade yogurt!

Notes:

  • Temperature control – before filling the mason jars, it helps to run them under hot water (with the lids on).  This helps maintain the right temperature.  It also helps to check the cooler once or twice during the incubation period to make sure the water bags are still warm.  If they’re cool, refill with hot water and put them back in the cooler.
  • Flavors – I personally like to make plain yogurt and then add extras like fruit or honey by the serving.  However, you can also add flavoring to the entire batch.  Heat the milk as usual and add the extras after you mix in the yogurt.  Good options include honey, maple syrup, pureed fruit, instant coffee and spices like cinnamon.  If you find a particularly delicious combo, let me know!
  • Raw milk – if you’re using raw milk and don’t want to kill the enzymes, only heat the yogurt to 110 degrees in step one.  Without the higher heat your yogurt won’t be as thick, but it will be full of healthy enzymes.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cherrylet/5409028734/

 

 

4 Responses to “How to Make Yogurt”

  1. Josh says:

    That does sound pretty easy. Unfortunately I can never get this to work out quite right with soy milk. Have you tried making any non-dairy yogurt?

    • Jen Hubbard says:

      I’m a cow milk girl so I haven’t personally experimented with non-dairy yogurt. What I’ve heard though is that non-dairy yogurt tends to be thinner so it helps to add a thickener (such as gelatin) prior to culturing or to strain the finished product through cheese cloth. Some milk alternatives are lower in sugar and can benefit from a little honey or other sweetener to help boost the beneficial bacteria. Hope this helps!

  2. Andy Wright says:

    Love the blog, Jen!! I never knew you were so handy…this yogurt recipe sounds pretty cool..I’ll have to give it a try…where do you find the yogurt cultures, or is it just regular, already made plain yogurt that you use to make more? Come down to visit soon.

    • Jen Hubbard says:

      Hey! For each quart I make I use one tablespoon of already made plain yogurt. It’s cheaper and more convenient than the cultures and it works just as well. Anyway we’d love to get together with you guys soon, can’t wait to hear all about the honeymoon!

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