Saturday, May 24, 2014

Yogurt: A Collaborative Sororial Post

Sarah dictated her foolproof yogurt-making process to ace interviewer Katelyn, who transcribed and gave it back for editing, and here you have it:  

Homemade yogurt is awesome, saves a ton of $$, and isn't all that effortful, although it takes 1 or 2 tries to get in the swing of it.  I make it roughly every 2 weeks on Sunday nights.

You will need:

A starter yogurt.  I like Noosa best if you can get it.  Fage works great too.  You need at least 2 TB; I usually use about 1/2 a cup.  Or, you can buy a stable culture online at  (They also have a lot of good advice and info on their site.)

Half a gallon of full-fat, high-quality, pasteurized (but not ultra-pasteurized) milk.  If you make a gallon at a time, it takes a LOT longer to heat and cool the milk, so I've decided a half gallon is the perfect amount.

A stock pot big enough to hold all of your milk; a soup pot to boil water in for sterilizing things; a strainer; a whisk; a ladle; a cooking thermometer; enough canning jars to hold 1/2 gallon total; and a cooler big enough to hold all the jars.   (Canning tools are nice to help handle the hot jars, but not necessary.)

About an hour (mostly because of the time to heat and cool the milk).

To make the yogurt:

1.  Assemble equipment and get your starter yogurt out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature.

2.  Heat the milk in the stock pot up to 175 degrees (Farenheit) to scald it.  Start stirring when it gets up to about 165 to prevent it from boiling over.  (Since we're using a strainer, don't worry too much about some milk cooking to the bottom of the pot.)  As soon as it hits 175, take it off the heat.

3.  Cool the milk to 120.  This takes a LONG time at room temperature.  I recommend putting the stock pot in the freezer with the lid off and checking the temperature frequently.

4.  While the milk cools, fill your cooler with 90-degree water, just high enough that it won't come up to the lids of your jars and leak in.   And start your saucepan of water boiling to sterilize the jars.  (You can also sterilize your whisk, ladle, strainer, and canning tools at this point and lay them out on a clean towel.)

5.  When the milk gets to 120, take it out of the freezer, and whisk in your starter yogurt so the bacteria get mixed around.

6.  Then, sterilize your jars one by one, ladling the milk mixture through the strainer into each one to fill it, putting a lid on it (not too tight), and putting it in the warm water in the cooler.

7.  Leave the yogurt in the closed cooler for 10-12 hours (overnight works well). It should be quite thick and tart; the longer you leave it, the thicker and more tart it will get.  Mine comes out thick enough that you can see little bubbles frozen on the surface around the edges.


- I like to sterilize because that way, the yogurt lasts a VERY long time (like a month!) in the fridge.  When I tried skipping that step, I had a few batches go bad.

- I used to love thick greek-style yogurts, and experimented with straining my yogurt to get that thickness, but have come to love the delicate texture of unstrained yogurt.

- Commercial yogurts don't have stable cultures, so you need to either buy a stable culture like one from Cultures for Health (and then use your own yogurt to start each subsequent batch), or use a new starter each time.  Since we usually eat up a whole batch before I get around to making another, it's been easier for me to just buy a new starter each time - and still cost-effective given the quantity.

- If you want to make a gallon at a time, 1/2 a cup of starter yogurt is still plenty.

- If you have a spot in your house that stays at a steady 90 or 95 degrees, you could skip the cooler and just put the jars there.  (Top of water cooler, by heater, in greenhouse, etc.)