I started making my own yogurt about three years ago. I was inspired by this blog post, which is a really great place to start. And I completely recommend the Yogotherm she uses, since that’s what I use as well. It’s great, because I can just put the yogurt mixture in the yogotherm and forget about it–and I usually do for about 18-24 hours. When I remember I’ve got yogurt going, I just pull out the pail and stick it in the fridge, and it’s just about right for the way I like my yogurt.
The beauty about making your own yogurt, besides the fact that it is super simple, is that you can make it exactly the way you like it.
What you need:
-Half Gallon Orgsnic Whole Milk
-One packet yogurt starter or 1/4 cup yogurt with live cultures. (I really like the flavor of yogourmet
-A kitchen thermometer
-A way to insulate your yogurt
-Fine mesh strainer
-Cheesecloth or paper towels
I try to make yogurt while I am doing other things in the kitchen, baking, dishes, something where I am going to be busy enough that I won’t leave until the milk is up to heat, but not so busy that I forget about the milk and it scorches. Giving it a stir every once and a while so it doesn’t develop a skin on top. If your milk does get a skin, just skim it off the top. It will survive the fermenting process, and it is not pleasant.
When the milk reaches 185, remove it from the heat. I like to set it on a trivet on the dinning room table so it’s completely out of the hot kitchen. Let it cool until it’s about 110 (five degrees in either direction should be ok.) Cooling takes as long, if not longer than heating. It’s easy to forget you’ve got it going, especially when you are trying to blog, nurse your infant, and read to your seven year-old all at the same time. Setting a time on your phone for about 20 minutes might help, and then remember to reset it, if you can.
When the milk is just about cool, I fill my yogotherm pail with boiling water, and after it’s had a chance to cool just a minute, I dump it out. The boiling water acts to sanitize and prewram the container.
Mix the starter into the milk while it’s still in the sauce pan. I don’t add anything but the starter, though I know some people add powdered milk or gelatin at this stage. I prefer letting the yogurt ferment longer. The longer you let it set, the firmer it will become naturally.
I like to let my yogurt set for at least 12 hours, but usually do closer to 24 before putting it in the refrigerator to stop the fermenting process. My favorite part of making yogurt is taking the lid off to check it once it’s ready to go in the fridge.
If you like, you can be done at this point. The yogurt is completely edible and perfectly healthy. The texture should be creamy and soft. If, like me, you like a firm, rich and thick yogurt, you can move on to the next step.
After the yogurt has had a couple hours in the refrigerator, it’s time to strain it.
Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl, line with paper towels or a fine cheesecloth, and spoon yogurt into the strainer. Cover with a tea towel or more paper towels, and replace into the refrigerator for 5-8 hours. Since I only have a medium-size strainer, I do half my yogurt at a time, which means it takes me a little bit longer to strain. From start to finish, the process takes me about two days, but it’s completely worth it.
The yogurt you get at the end is downright delectable and you have a whole jar of probiotic whey to use to ferment other thing. It’s a never ending cycle of deliciousness.