When I first heard that someone was making yogurt in her own kitchen I thought, “wow, that is really something, she must be a super mom or one of those, never-buy-anything store-bought-that-you-can-make-at-home moms.”
Well, about two years ago I tried my hand at this aloof yogurt making. I was nervous, afraid to enter into this unknown. With sweating palms I began the complicated and foreboding process. Okay, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration.
I actually found that it’s pretty simple and strait forward. Sweet! After trying out a couple of different methods I pretty much have it down to a system that I can do without thinking. I make it about every other week and Ian enjoys it each morning for a mid morning snack, Seth eats it when the winds blow from the right directions and I love to use it in cooking, baking, dressings, etc.
It’s much cheaper than buying whole milk yogurt and the best part, you don’t need any real fancy equipment or supplies. Just whole milk, a starter, thermometer, a heavy bottom pan, cooler, towels and mason jars.
Here is a bit about each element so you can understand why I use what I use.
Whole milk: I have heard you can use reduced fat milk, but I have never tried. I like how the whole milk makes the yogurt thicker and more creamy. Also, Seth and Ian both don’t need a reduce fat product, so it’s always been whole milk for me.
Starter: So this is really just yogurt. The first time you make the yogurt, you will need to buy a small container of yogurt. I usually try to get Greek yogurt with at least 2% milk fat. This makes a really nice starter. After the first time, you will have enough to put in a small mason jar and use as your starter for next time.
Thermometer: This does not have to be anything fancy. For a while my digital thermometer was not working, so I just used a meat one that I had. All you need to be able to tell is when the milk gets to the right temperature.
As far as the other equipment, I use a heavy bottom pan to avoid scorching the milk. I use two large mason jars and one half pint size jar for a half gallon of milk. Some day I would like to get the wide rimmed ones, but for now the regular ones work fine. I just use a funnel to make pouring the milk easier. I have a medium size cooler that holds my jars, if you have a bigger one, you will just need more towels.
Why towels? Well, the yogurt has to stay at a certain temperature for some time. The towels incubate the yogurt and keep them at the right temperature for the good bacteria to work. I used to do this by adding warm water to the cooler, but this was messy, more sensitive and I have found that the towels work so much better.
Once you have every thing you need the process is simple and fairly hands off.
8 cups (half gallon) whole milk
1/2 – 1 cup starter
Pour milk into heavy bottom pan and heat over low to medium heat to 180 degrees, stirring often to prevent burning.
Once milk is up to temperature, remove from heat and let cool to 120 degrees.
In a large measuring cup pour 1 cup of warm milk and whisk in starter. Add the milk and starter back to the pot of milk and whisk well.
Pour into mason jars (2 quart size and 1/2 pint). Put on lids and wrap each jar in a kitchen towel and place in cooler. Fill cooler with towels and close.
Leave for 5 hours. Check yogurt to see if thicken. This can be done by gently tilting jars. If still too runny leave for another few hours. (Note:It will continue to thicken overnight. So it’s okay if it’s a little runny). Once to desired thickness, remove jars from cooler and store in the refrigerator. Let sit overnight before enjoying. The half pint jar will be your starter for your next batch of yogurt.