Homemade Yogurt - Photo Tutorial
A few people have asked about how I make yogurt. It seems a little funny to be posting directions, since just a short while ago, I was the one asking people how to do it. But it’s worked out great each time I’ve done it, so I’ll post my method here.
First, take your starter yogurt from a previous batch or from store-bought yogurt. I’m making a half-gallon, so I used one cup. Most recipes are for a quart, and call for a 1/2 cup of starter yogurt. I used Trader Joe’s organic whole milk plain yogurt, and I’ve heard Stoneybrook makes a good starter as well.
Heat your milk slowly, stirring often, until the milk reaches 180 degrees. I have a really nifty digital thermometer that I talked my mom into giving me that proves very useful for yogurt making, but any food thermometer will work. Stir often to prevent any of the milk from scorching on the bottom and to keep the heat even. If you’re lucky, your husband will read you stories while you stir! He even shows the pictures in slow motion like a kindergarten teacher.
Wash your containers well in hot water. I use pint Mason jars, because they fit in my crock pot. I know many people use quart Mason jars.
The instructions I used to get started are from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions.
When the temperature reaches 180, take it off the heat, and cool. I put the pan in a sink of cold water and stir constantly until the temperature reaches 110 degrees.
Take your starter and whisk it into the warm milk. I find it incorporates best if I take a ladle full of the warm milk and whisk it into the starter before whisking the mixture into the whole pot, but I doubt that is necessary.
Immediately fill your clean jars with the milk/starter mixture. Try to keep the temperature above about 95 degrees during this whole process. Sometimes I leave the burner on low while I mix in the starter and fill the jars so that it doesn’t get too cold. But don’t let it get much hotter either, or you’ll kill your starter!
Now you incubate it! It needs to stay at a consistant 95–110 degrees for seven hours or more. This is the part that intimidated me at first. But my crock pot works perfectly! I fill it part way with water, leave it on a warm setting while I’m making the yogurt, place my jars in the water and close the lid. When the water temperature reaches the right temperature (I set my space age thermometer to beep at me when it reaches 108), I turn the crock pot off completely and cover it with two kitchen towels. The crock keeps it nice and warm long enough for it to turn into yogurt!
Other incubation methods I’ve heard of include putting it in a gas oven with a pilot light, which apperently keeps it warm enough, or putting it in an electric oven with the light on. I have neither a gas oven or an oven light, so these wouldn’t work. I’ve also heard of people using a heating pad. I’m sure this works, but I’m too OCD to not be able to control the temperature exactly like I can with the crock pot full of water. I have a friend who puts his yogurt mixture in a pre-warmed, large thermos, and he makes way more yogurt than me, so it must work well.
I usually do this in the evening, and leave it overnight. In the morning, I wake up to four pints of fresh yogurt! I find having cute strawberry lids an indispensable part of the process, but you can use whatever lids you like :)
Feel free to ask questions or give your own advice. I’m new to this, but I’m sure there are people reading that have more experience than I do *cough* ChrisandNicole *cough*
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