I love yogurt.
Nothing fancy, just plain, whole milk yogurt with all the good stuff (live and active cultures, protein, animal fat, and calcium) and none of the bad (gelatin, sweeteners, artificials).
Yogurt is one of those foods that I could eat every single day. I like it with fruit mixed in, topped with a sprinkle of buckwheat groats and molasses, on top of chili or baked potatoes, with vanilla and cinnamon, I even love the tang of it straight up.
I don’t love paying $4-5 a quart for the organic stuff. I don’t love that the plastic tubs it’s sold in aren’t recycled in our local curbside program.
I love making yogurt!
I’ve been making my own yogurt weekly/bi-weekly for over a year now. It’s quite simple, although it can take a few tries to get into the swing of things. I use a yogurt maker and, although it can be made in the oven or a cooler or other home-rigged device, I highly recommend a yogurt maker.
There are few items in my kitchen that I would replace the moment they broke without batting an eye and my yogurt maker is one of them (can you guess what another one is? ). Luckily, they aren’t very expensive. Mine was gifted to me, the Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker, but it retails for around $30. The yogurt it makes ends up costing about $2 a quart, or less than half of what the yogurt at the store costs.
I’ve written about my love of making yogurt before but I get lots of requests for the details so here they are!
Yogurt Making Step-by-Step
Time required: Less than 30 minutes of hands on and then up to 9 hours in the yogurt maker.
Ingredients needed: Milk, yogurt in a ratio of 2 tablespoons of yogurt per cup of milk (exact amount will depend on the capacity of your yogurt maker)
Equipment needed: Yogurt maker with jars and lids, big pot, whisk, kitchen thermometer, stove, funnel (optional)
1. Buy a high quality milk and yogurt. I usually use Natural By Nature but yesterday I settled for Homestead Creamery after two stores were out of my first choice. Natural By Nature is grass-fed, organic, and NOT ultra-pasteurized. Pasteurization kills ALL bacteria and enzymes, the good and the bad. Anyways, back to the yogurt…
2. Pour desired amount of milk into a big pot on the stove and set the burner to medium high.
3. Take the necessary amount of yogurt out of the fridge and set in a bowl on the counter to come to room temperature while the milk heats.
4. Whisk the milk regularly (every 3 minutes or so) and once you start seeing little bubbles form begin to check the temperature.
5. Bring the milk up to 180* F then immediately take off of the heat. Watch closely towards the end because boiled over milk is a bitch to clean off the stove.
6. Cool the milk to 120*. Whisk regularly to help cool the milk. You can also put the pot in an ice bath in the sink to expedite cooling, just whisk and check the temperature often because you want to catch it right at 120*.
7. While the milk is cooling set your yogurt maker up. Take all the lids off the jars, plug it in, and turn it on. Make sure to set the yogurt maker in a spot where it will not be disturbed for up to 9 hours (you don’t want to move it once the magic starts). Once the milk reaches 120* you want to work fast to get it in the jars and in the machine to keep the milk mixture as close to temperature as possible. You may want to have a funnel handy to help fill the jars.
8. 120* and it’s go time. Quickly whisk the room-temp (more or less) yogurt into the warm milk. Once completely mixed in (15 seconds of vigorous whisking), fill the jars with the warm milk mixture, screw on the lids, set in the machine, and put the cover on.
9. Do the dishes and wait 7-9 hours. It’s done when you turn a jar sideways and the yogurt pretty much stays in place. It will become tangier and thicker the longer it sits in the maker.
10. Put the jars in the fridge. It’s tempting to give it a taste but warm yogurt is kind of weird, it will be better once it cools, promise.
11. Enjoy and save a little bit for your next batch!
Heating the milk
Cooling the milk in a ice batch in the sink.
As I said, it can feel a little confusing at first, worrying about the temperature and doing the steps in the right order. It quickly becomes familiar and these days I don’t even measure my yogurt start or pay much attention to how long it sits in the maker, I just go with instinct and it turns out every time. It does take a bit of time but I usually make it after lunch while I’m cleaning up the kitchen or prepping kombucha ’cus you know I love multi-tasking.