When my children were young, homemade yogurt was a mainstay in our home, a tradition passed down from my mom. Once you start making it, you will begin to appreciate the sweet creaminess that is so different than the store bought version.
Basically, yogurt is milk that has fermented. In order to ferment, you need to add yogurt bacteria and encourage it to grow. You can purchase a yogurt starter online or you can use store bought yogurt as a starter. Look for yogurt that contains milk and active yogurt cultures. For example Fage, which is a favorites reads “Grade A Pasteurized Milk and Cream, Live Active Yogurt Cultures (L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Casei)”. After the first batch you can save some of your yogurt for the next batch but I find after a few generations, you need to start again with a fresh culture.
These lovely healthy bacteria feed off of the lactose in the milk. So by the time the yogurt is complete, there is little lactose left. Because of this, many people who are lactose intolerant can eat yogurt.
When purchasing milk for yogurt, be sure to avoid ‘ultra pasturized’. Otherwise you can use whole, low fat or raw.
Yogurt is simple and inexpensive to make. It is very important that everything is very clean with no traces of soap. You will need:
- 2 quarts of milk
- 1/2 c yogurt
- a warming device (see below)
Slowly heat milk to boiling stirring occasionally. Do not allow it to boil. Remove from heat. Allow to cool to 110 – 100 °F. Skim off skin on top. Milk will be warm but not hot. Transfer milk to a glass bowl and add yogurt to the warm milk. I find it easiest to mix a bit of the warm milk in the yogurt before adding. This helps eliminate lumps of yogurt.
Transfer the mixture to smaller containers, cover loosely. I love using canning jars. Recycled yogurt containers work well too. Don’t shake or jostle. Your yogurt will not set properly. ‘
Place jars/containers in warming device for 5 – 8 hours. Tilt a jar to see if the yogurt has set. Once the yogurt is set, refrigerate for two hours. To serve, add a bit of honey, nuts or jam. Use your imagination and enjoy!
An oven with a pilot light: Place containers on cookie sheet. Keep door closed.
An oven with the light on: Place containers on cookie sheet. Cover with a dishtowel. Keep door closed.
Heating pad set to low: Cover jars and pad with a towel to retain heat. (This is the method I use.)
Crock pot: Place jars (not plastic) in Crock-pot. Pour water in the crock-pot around the jars. Set to warm. Cover with a towel.
Variations: If you want the yogurt richer, you can add 1/2 c dry milk OR 1/4 c cream. For thicker yogurt, strain yogurt through a cheese cloth to remove some of the whey.