I sort of fell into yogurt making many moons ago when I had crazy visions of making my own cheese. Several times, I have been accused of making life more complicated than is necessary. This made me realize that I am a very challenge oriented person. Did I say that wrong? I don’t mean challenged in the mental way (although I do have my moments). I’m talking about the total emersion, forgo sleep, I will figure this thing out and do it myself, darn it, kind of person. Yea, does sound a little crazy. But i’m not apologizing. Not when I have tasty yogurt in my fridge to show for it. 🙂 This ones for you Steph. A fellow do-it-yourselfer!
-Once you get the hang of it, you probably wont need the thermometer. You can just test the temp. with a clean finger.
-After I have made a batch of yogurt I Like to freeze a ice cube trays worth to have as a starter for the next batch. Freezing doesn’t kill the cultures.
-If you let your milk get too cold and it never curdles simply raise the temp. to the right temp. and let it continue to sit until it does curdle.
-If you let the milk get too hot and you kill the cultures then you will need to let the milk cool to the right temp. add a fresh starter and restart the 3 hour clock.
1/2 gallon whole milk
1 quart whipping cream or 2tbsp. powdered milk (optional. Homemade yogurt is, generally, not as thick as it’s storebought counterpart. Adding whipping cream or powdered milk helps thicken it)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
-This yogurt will be your “starter”. Check the label! Pick a starter that doesn’t have gelatin or any other additives. Just milk and cultures! I like Dannon Plain or Chobani Greek Yogurt. Also make sure that it is well before the expiration date or else the cultures could be dead. After you make your first batch of yogurt you can use some of it to make the next one.
You will need:
Heavy pot with lid
sterilized jars to store
sterilized spoon to stir starter into milk
Heat milk (and powdered milk or cream if using) to 185-195*F. If you rinse the pot with water before adding the milk I have found that it helps keep the milk from scorching on the bottom. Stir to further prevent sticking. Be careful not to let the milk boil or it will have a funky cooked milk taste. Transfer pot to a sink filled with cold water and let sit with lid on until milk is close to 110*F or until you can stick a clean finger in it without it burning. Stir the yogurt starter with the clean spoon and add a few tablespoons of the boiled milk to the starter to temper it.
Add the starter to the cooled milk (This is called pitching for all you dorks out there). Pour the still warm milk into the sterilized jars and screw on lids. (If you will be turning the yogurt into greek yogurt then you can just keep it in the pot.)
Next you will need to keep the milk in a place where it will not exceed a temp. of 122*F (which equals dead cultures) or will drop below 104*F (inhibits the cultures from converting the lactose to lactic acid). I have found that turning my oven on it’s lowest setting for about 5 min. every couple of hours does the trick. Alternatively, and probably the easiest, I have put a heating pad set to medium under the pot and then wrapped the pot in a bath towel. The milk will need to sit for at least 3 hours before it will curdle and turn into yogurt. As tempted as you may be to peek, do not mess with it until the three hour mark. You can leave it overnight as well. The longer it sits past the 3 hour mark the more of a “tang” it will have so this is purely personal preferance from here.
Once the milk has curdled you will notice a thin layer of yellowish water on top. This is whey and can either be stirred back into the yogurt or drained off. The yogurt will further thicken after refrigerating.
To turn the yogurt into greek yogurt, you will need to strain it. I use a clean white t-shirt of my husbands that I have torn up and saved for just this purpose. Line a large bowl with the cloth. Add the yogurt and then gather up all the corners and twist a rubberband around it and hang it for a few hours until you get the desired consistency. (You will want it a little softer than you like keeping in mind that it thickens once chilled) If you do strain it too long you can always stir back in a little of the whey. I like to freeze the whey in a icecube tray and put them in smoothies for the hubby after some of his workouts.