Making your own yogurt is incredibly simple, and so economical you will wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. I have tried various recipes that call for using a crockpot, and none of them have worked for me. This process doesn’t take that much time at all, and has given me the same results each time I’ve done it, so it is the one I stick with. I don’t know about you, but I am sick of all the extras my food has, so I’m trying very hard to be more pure in what I eat. That doesn’t mean that I get it 100% of the time, or even 1/2 of the time, but I’m trying. And, yes, this is way cheaper than store bought, and seeing how I’m going through a lot of it because of my smoothies, it is more than worth the little bit of time it takes.
Start by forgetting to photograph the first step, which is taking about a half gallon of 2% milk and dumping it in a pot. Oops! Anyway, yeah, just pour it in a pot. Now, other directions have you doing it double boiler style, but let me tell you something. I don’t have a double boiler, never have. Second, it isn’t worth the time, or dirtied pot to do it, so I just have one pot I do the milk in. Yes it scalds, and yes you have to scrub, but not that hard.
While that is on the stove (medium high heat, by the way), go ahead and fill your sink up about 1/3 of the way with ice water. You can add more later if need be, but don’t add too much because you don’t want water running into your yogurt mixture later. Pardon the scratches in my sink – I don’t know who decided that colored sinks were cute, because they aren’t – too much maintenance, in my opinion!
Now, let’s talk about starter. There are two kinds. One you buy from the store, and one you already have. When you get your starter from the store, you want plain, lowfat yogurt with as many live cultures as you can find. Now, here’s the rub. Stoneyfield has the largest amount of live cultures ( S. THERMOPHILUS, L. BULGARICUS, L. ACIDOPHILUS, BIFIDUS, L. CASEI, AND L. RHAMNOSUS). BUT! Around here, it only comes in the large container, not the small. So, I have found the next best thing is the Oikos single serve – which, coincidentally is also a Stoneyfield product. But, it only has 5 live cultures. Get what you think is best, but keep in mind that you only need a single serve size to get started, AND! read your labels and stay away from stuff that has additives. You will need to get this about every 5 batches of homemade yogurt.
The other starter is your own. You want to keep back about 1/4 cup or so of your yogurt to start a new batch. Now, I store my yogurt in quart size mason (kerr?) jars, and when I get near the end of the first jar, I just put it to the back of the fridge until I’m ready to make some more yogurt. This method only works for about 5 batches, then you have to get new starter from the store.
You have your pot-o-milk on the stove doing its thing. You don’t have to watch it like a hawk… yet. You have about 10-15 minutes so go ahead and fold some laundry. When it starts looking a bit like a latte from a coffee shop, then you need to check the temp. For you non coffee people, that means frothy, and lots of it.
So, stick a candy thermometer in it – you are looking for about 170 degrees – 180. And, funny thing, while I was trying to photo this, it boiled over. No big deal. 🙂 When it hits that point, then get it into the ice bath – feel free to add more water or ice cubes, but you want the water level about 1/4 inch from the top.
And, you wait until the temperature goes back down to 110. Stir the milk periodically so the cooler milk from the outside gets incorporated to the warmer milk on the inside.
Pull the pot out of the water, and take a couple ladles and add to your starter.
Now, pour that back into your pot-o-milk. 🙂 Make sure you “whisk” it in so you don’t get any clumps.
Now, put the cover on the pot…
And, put the pot on your heating pad, put heating pad on medium, place towel over lid, and the rest of the heating pad over top…
Now you wait for 6-8 hours. Don’t freak if you leave it longer, it will just be stronger. At this point, you will have something that looks like this:
All the liquid? Whey! I’ll address that in a minute. So, now you want to take a colander, and a pot that it will fit in, and line the colander with coffee filters. I have to actually use two colanders because of the size of the batches I make.
Now, start ladling!
And, let the yogurt drain off. Underneath you will have the whey left over. I just throw this out because right now I am watching my carbs, but you can use it for a lot of different things! Then, I just dump all the strained yogurt in a separate bowl, and from there transfer into quart jars! The yogurt, though strained, will be a little runny-ish, but after you refrigerate overnight, it sets up real well… see?
That is it – super simple, and you make that $1.50 Oikos single server turn into around 10 quarts of yogurt – awesome! If you have ANY questions, I would be more than happy to answer them, so drop me a line! Oh, and yes, I’ve heard of people using their crockpot to make yogurt, but I just couldn’t get it to work right, and it seems more of a hassle than this way.