What You will Need:
Milk — whole or 2% are best, but skim can also be used (As much as you want)
Yogurt — Plain, Whole Milk yogurt with live, active cultures (about 2 Tbsp per Qt of Milk)
All you need to make homemade yogurt is fresh Whole or 2% milk (preferably not ultra-pasteurized). You can use skim milk if you like, but it will make a thinner, runnier yogurt. Then you will want a little bit of “Starter” yogurt, it is best to start with plain, unflavored yogurts, however, any yogurt that has “Live Active Yogurt Cultures” listed in the ingredients will work. (That is a non-negotiable, since this is what makes yogurt what it is!)
The more cultures listed the better! Different strains of bacteria have different health benefits. A few of them are L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Casei.
Large Stainless Steel or Cast-Iron Sauce Pan with flat bottom
Metal or Wood Stirring Spoon
Candy Thermometer (with a clip to attach to the pan)
8 oz Measuring Cup
Small glass or metal mixing bowl
8 Oz Wide Mouth Jars…or whatever jars you have on hand!
Really, we are so good at over complicating things. Some people like to use a Dutch oven, or a food dehydrator, or a fancy yogurt maker. All those are fine. I just use Grandma’s old Revere Ware Sauce Pan and either an oven or a microwave to incubate the yogurt over night. I don’t recommend using a Teflon coated pan, or any plastic to stir or store the yogurt. Call me silly if you like, but all plastic is best avoided in my opinion.
How it’s Done:
- Heat the milk. Set the stove burner on medium heat. Pour the milk into the sauce pan in the amount desired. Slowly warm the milk to between 160° and 175°F (give or take…but NOT to boiling). Stir the milk periodically to make certain it doesn’t boil or scorch. (I usually set the timer to 8 minutes and it is pretty close to being ready by then).
- Let the Milk Cool. Take the pan of milk off the burner to rest until the temperature lowers to between, 110°F and 115°F. A thin skin usually forms on the surface of the milk. I just skim it off before the next step. Some people like to hurry up the process by placing the pan in an ice water bath and swirling the milk a bit. I just set the timer for about 20-30 minutes and check the thermometer. Patience. 🙂 (When I take the milk off of the burner and set the timer, that is my cue to make sure the “Starter” yogurt has been taken out of the refrigerator to warm up a smidgen out on the counter for the next 20-30 minutes.)
- Whisk the Starter into the milk. In a small mixing bowl, place one cup of the warm milk and whisk into it, about 2 TBSP of yogurt starter for each quart of Milk in the total amount you are making. (No scientific measurement needed.) Make sure it is whisked until there are no lumps large or small.
- Stir this into the Pan of Milk. Pour the whisked starter yogurt and cup of milk back into the sauce pan with the milk and stir well so it all incorporates together. This gets the yogurt cultures evenly distributed throughout.
- Pour into individual Jars. Pour steralized jars about 3/4 full (leaving room for the goodies and additives you might want in the finished product) and cover with the jar lids. n the oven light or wrap the pot in towels to keep the milk warm as it sets (ideally around 110°F, though some variance is fine). You can also make the yogurt in a dehydrator left at 110°F or using a yogurt maker.
- Place Jars in your homemade Incubator to Set Up. Set jars with about an inch of space between them into an oven that has been warmed to the lowest temperature and then turned off, with just the oven light left on to keep the warmth OR set jars about an inch apart in the overhead microwave with the under microwave light left on for the night to heat the space OR set in a food dehydrator on a setting around 100°F and turn on for the duration of 8 to 10 to 12 to 15 hours! The yogurt needs to set for at least 8 hours — The longer it sets, the more tart and thick it generally becomes. Cultures vary, so if your first batch or 2 are not just the level of thickness and tartness you like, keep trying…it will still be delicious! As much as you are tempted, do not open and check on the yogurt or stir it until it has been at least 8 hours.
- Store your fresh Yogurt. When morning has arrived or at least 8 hours have past, remove the yogurt from your little incubator and gently check one of them to make sure it has set up pretty well. If there is a smidgen of watery whey on top, just pour it off to use in something else, or stir it in for a creamier, thinner yogurt. Place all the jars in the refrigerator. They should keep up to 2 weeks if you don’t gobble them down too fast.
* Another version of the homemade incubator some people like to use is a picnic cooler with a hot water bottle or quart jar of hot water placed in the bottom. I have not tried this personally, but am certain it could work just as well.
** Another way some people thicken their homemade yogurt is to whisk a little Fruit Pectin Powder into Step 3 with the Starter Yogurt and Milk, or they strain it through a Cotton Cheesecloth after it has set overnight so that it is more “Greek” style it it’s consistency.
Now it’s Your Turn!
Do you have a recipe variation to share? Please do! Now go enjoy some Yogurt!