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DIY yogurt

with 3 comments

Making your dinner is one thing. Preserving, canning, pickling, or fermenting food takes cooking to another level. The more food I make myself the more empowering it is. Picking something up from the grocery story is convenient, but making food yourself is usually cheaper and it strips away the mystique around food production and the myth that it must be left to experts. You can be the expert. That’s what DIY is all about. The more you do by yourself, the more you realize what you can do.

Heat the milk to 180 degrees.

With that in mind, here’s my recipe for yogurt. When I offer someone some of my homemade yogurt the response is usually, “No way!” You made this?” The truth is it’s very easy. It takes about 12 hours to make the yogurt, but the actual active time in the kitchen is less than five minutes. And all you need is milk and yogurt. Yes, the first time around you’re buying a little yogurt to make a lot of yogurt. What you’re actually buying is the bacteria culture in the yogurt. But after your first batch you don’t need to buy more. Just hang onto two cups of the yogurt you made to start the next batch. It’s like starter for bread. You can use it indefinitely. Oh, and you’ll also need a food thermometer.

1 gallon whole milk
2 cups plain whole yogurt

Add milk to a large pot and, using a candy or meat thermometer, heat the milk to 180 degrees over medium heat.

While the milk is cooling, put the yogurt in the jars.

Once the milk has reached 180 degrees, let it cool to 110 degrees. While the milk is cooling, place 1/4 cup of yogurt into several glass jars (Ball or Mason jars are best) and place the jars on a baking sheet. Add the cooled milk to the yogurt and stir to blend, covering loosely with a dishtowel.

The trick to making yogurt is gently heating the milk/yogurt mixture. I use a heating pad under the baking sheet. You could wrap the jars in a blanket and put them in a warm corner of your house or place the jars in an oven with a gas pilot light to provide the heat. Or you could put the jars on the backseat of a car with the windows rolled up.

This is how the yogurt looks when it’s done.

I let my yogurt sit overnight, but it’s generally done in 8 hours or so. Once it’s firmed up and turned into yogurt, seal and refrigerate. Add granola or fruit and enjoy.


Written by stettholbrook

August 6, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Posted in recipes

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3 Responses

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  1. We’ve been doing this for years! One comment on “the trick” (second to last paragraph) is that it’s two-fold: on the stovetop you need to heat the yogurt in the pan on the lowest flame possible, let it happen gradually, and be patient. Then, once it’s reached 180 degrees and you let it cool (we cool to 120), the key is to stop the heat loss and let it cool as slowly and gently as possible. We put a lid on the jar, wrap it in a kitchen towel, and put it in the microwave. This insulates it enough to retain the heat pretty well. We used to put it in the oven (which did work a bit better due to the construction), but then one day we forgot and pre-heated the oven with the yogurt in there!

    The yogurt is great, everyone comments on how it’s like the “expensive” type of yogurt, and best of all (for us, at least), we know we have 100% control over the ingredients. We use our local, pasture raised milk, etc. etc., because we try not to buy industrialized dairy products. This is a good compromise. When you’re buying the artisanal stuff it can be pricey, but by buying milk and making our own yogurt it cuts down on that cost significantly.


    August 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    • Good feedback. Thanks. I’ve never tried to slow the heat loss. I do opposite–rapid cool. What’s the benefit?


      August 7, 2012 at 5:04 pm

      • It leads to a smoother, creamier texture with less separation of the whey and less lumpiness over time in the fridge.


        August 7, 2012 at 5:59 pm

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