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.
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.
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.
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.