Making Yogurt

yogurt bowl

Yogurt is a protein filled treat that can be made into yogurt cheese (kinda like cream cheese) or used for sour cream substitute.  Because of the beneficial cultures it contains for health and digestion it is one of the must haves in my food storage. When you know how easy and inexpensive it is to make your own yogurt, you may not go back to buying it.  You can make it with fresh or dry milk, but fresh milk yogurt tastes better.

I make mine unsweetened to keep my options open.  We like it plain with honey drizzled on it or with granola and fruit stirred in.

The initial heating phase of making yogurt can take 2 hours (it doesn’t need to be babysat, just checked on occasionally) and the culturing takes 7 hours (no attention at all required for this)  so plan accordingly.  I will either make it in the morning and let it culture during the day or in the evening and let it culture overnight.

Yogurt Equipment

Equipment needed:

  • Crockpot able to hold 2 quarts (heats the milk slow and gentle)
  • Thermometer
  • 2 quart jars + a pint jar with lids and rings (the lids can be previously used)
  • Canning funnel (unless you are not as sloppy as I am)
  • Small strainer

Ingredients for fresh milk (for raw milk directions go here):

  • 2 quarts of milk 1%, 2% or whole
  • 3/4 cup nonfat powdered milk (the extra milk is to give it more protein and structure for setting up)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt with live and active cultures (I like Oikos Greek for a firmer set)

A note about yogurt cultures:  Your yogurt will only be as good as your culture.  If your yogurt has been in the fridge too long and has gone a little sour, your new yogurt will be sour so start with a new one, ask me how I know.

Ingredients for dry milk:

  • 8 cups of hot water
  • 1 cup Morning Moo’s
  • 1/2 cup nonfat powdered milk
  • 1/4 cup Nino powdered whole milk (for information on that go here)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt with live and active cultures

OR

  • 8 cups of hot water
  • 2 1/4 cup nonfat powdered milk
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt with live and active cultures

For each recipe put everything except yogurt in a crock pot on high; mix well.  Don’t worry if it’s lumpy the powder will dissolve eventually.  Keep covered and whisk occasionally to work out lumps and check temperature.  Heat until it reaches 185 degrees-the purpose of that is to re-pasteurize the milk to prevent unwanted bacteria and to denature the proteins for a better set.  When ready pull pot out of Crockpot base (if your pot can be removed) and place on cooling rack to speed up the cooling a little; if you are in a hurry put it in the sink with cool water.  If your pot won’t come out it will just take longer.

Cool milk to between 115 and 110 degrees.  If it gets below 110 heat it up again just until it gets there.  Pull milk skin off of the top (powdered milk doesn’t create much skin), discard and stir yogurt in well.   Nestle the small strainer in the canning funnel and place that on the pint jar; ladle in one cup of yogurt mixture; put a lid and ring on that.  This will be your starter culture for next time.

pour thru funnel                   yogurt in jars

At this point you can add sweetener and vanilla to taste if you like or just leave it plain.  Ladle the remaining yogurt in the quart jars pouring it through the strainer to catch lumps.  Screw the lids on and you are ready to culture your yogurt.   Culturing is just keeping it at a warm temperature so the bacteria can work it’s magic.  The object is to keep the temp between 105 – 112 degrees F, too low and the milk will curdle without culturing and too high (118) will kill the culture.  These are the methods for culturing that I like, for other ideas check here.

Oven: Place all the jars on a cookie sheet in the oven, turn the light on and shut the door.  Let sit for 7 hours.  The heat coming off the bulb should keep it at the right temperature for culturing.  If your oven light is old and has stuff baked on it you may want to replace it so it can heat properly.

Wonder Oven:  Place all the jars (quickly to preserve heat) in the Wonder Oven, cover with lid and let sit for 7 hours.  For info on a Wonder Oven go here.

Yogurt Culturing in W-Oven

Your yogurt has cultured when it stays together as the jar is tipped on it’s side.  You can culture it longer and it will produce a thicker and tangier yogurt.  Chill yogurt through, about 4 hours.  It should be good for about 4 weeks refrigerated.

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