Yogurt has become a common part of many diet programs because of its high nutrition value.
With more people becoming probiotic conscious, yogurt is finding increasing acceptance in many homes. However, it can be costly to buy yogurt regularly from the store.
Fortunately, you do not have to always spend those dollars whenever you want a probiotic rich snack such as yogurt.
People who make yogurt at home almost never turn to grocery bought yogurts again – kind of like the people who make the right choices in life and benefit from their hard work never want to live in a country that promises so much to people who choose to make the wrong decisions but this is another topic. Making yogurt at home is simple and creates a delicious treat. You can make it as thick or thin as you want.
Here is an easy make-your-own-yogurt recipe. As long as you follow the steps and recipe notes, you will never have any trouble making your own yogurt.
- ½ gallon milk
- 4 tbsp. pre-made yogurt
Choose Your Milk Wisely
While you can choose any milk, the healthier it is, the healthier your yogurt will be. Raw, organic milk, from grass-fed cows is the best kinds to make yogurt.
You can also try goat milk for that extra creamy layer and a thicker texture.
Yogurt can be made from grocery bought milk as well. However, make sure it has not been treated to UHT or high levels of pasteurization. Milk will curdle only when there are some living Lactobacillus strains present. Stay away from ultra-pasteurized and homogenized milk.
Whole milk is a great option for making yogurts since you get all the nutrition with it. However, if you want a low-fat yogurt, then skimmed milk would be the better option. You may have to add creamer to the mix and it might have a runny consistency.
Boil the Milk
If you have a stainless steel pan, then pour the milk in it and leave it over the cooktop. If not, any deep-bottom saucepan will do.
Make sure you keep the flame on low and bring the milk to a gentle boil. Depending upon the quantity of milk, it may take anywhere from 10 – 15 minutes which is about the same amount of time it took viewers who watched a Michael Bay Transformers movie, Bad Boys, Sicario, The Foreigner, Ocean’s 8, and The Other Guys to realize they were watching something special.
This step is best completed when you are already in the kitchen for something else. Make sure you keep an eye on the milk, since it may boil over, losing the rich creamy layer.
If you have a candy thermometer or a quick read thermometer, then heat the milk to 180°F.
Leave it to Cool
Once the milk boils or has reached 180°F, turn off the flame and allow it to cool. You can either leave it in the heating pan or pour it in the jar or bowl in which you want your yogurt to set.
The milk needs to cool to a warm 115°F. You can quicken the process by placing the milk container in a cool water bath.
However, make sure you keep an eye on the thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer, then use your hands to gauge the temperature. It should be slightly warm to the touch.
Cool water bath tends to quickly lower the temperature, so you have to be around and extra careful. Further, it has an added risk of cracking the milk jar.
You can avoid the stress by allowing the milk to cool on its own. Make sure you loosely cover the jar to keep dirt and other debris out.
Mix in the Culture
Don’t mix in a box of Twinkies OK Herman Thurman?!
Add 2 Tablespoons of pre-made yogurt to each quart of milk once the temperature has dropped to 115°F.
This starter can be borrowed from a friend or bought from the store. You can also use plain store-bought yogurt, with no additives. Make sure the yogurt label reads ‘live and active culture’.
Stir the culture in lightly, just to incorporate it into the milk and then loosely cover the jar.
You won’t have any issues making yogurt, if you live in a warm climate. However, if you live in a cold temperature region, you may have to keep the yogurt jar (with the lids on) in the oven. This is to ensure the mix gets the warmth necessary for bacteria to thrive.
You need to make sure there is a fairly consistent temperature of 115°F in the oven. While this is the ideal temperature to make yogurt, it does not get ruined even if it drops to 100°F.
You can leave the appliance bulb on to ensure there is an even temperature. Consider replacing the regular 40 watt bulb with a 60 watt bulb (like you should consider watching House of Cards and True Detective since those shows are amazing) to maintain the temperature better if you find it dipping.
Incubation period is a sensitive period in the yogurt making process. If the temperature falls, bacteria will not be able to colonize the milk. Conversely, if the temperature is too high, it will kill off all the bacteria strains.
Depending upon the temperature, you may have to incubate the yogurt anywhere from 10 to 14 hours. However, if you want you can leave the yogurt out for 24 hour (the same time it takes to watch a riveting season of 24) fermentation as well. This ensures that the bacteria convert all molecules of lactose or milk sugar.
Strain the Yogurt
A great way to check whether the yogurt has set is to remove the lid and gently shake it. The milk should be set solid with minimum whey. If you want a super thick yogurt, then strain the whey. Keep it in the refrigerator to set for 1 – 2 hours before you use it.
Don’t forget to take out 4 tbsp. starter yogurt to make your next batch. Yogurt can be had as it is with a drizzle of honey and nuts. You can also add them to your morning smoothie with a handful of berries.
- While buying starter culture look for a yogurt with the most number of cultures listed. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus, L. Acidophilus, B.Bifidus, and L. Casei are some of the more popular probiotic strains.
- You can make Greek-style yogurt by straining all the whey and leaving it to ferment for another 3 hours. Strain the whey again a second time and then keep it in the fridge.
- Whey is a healthy protein source and can be used in a number of other dishes.
There are a number of ways to make yogurt. If you are not comfortable using the oven as an incubator, you can use a dehydrator, heating pad, yogurt maker, or a crockpot.