I remember that my mom used to make homemade yogurt in these short, milk-glass looking cups that fit snugly in her light blue yogurt maker. She did her best to convince me that her yogurt tasted so much better than anything you could buy at the store, but as a youngster ‘better’ was what I never got but always wanted…in other words…Yoplait and all of its array of fruity flavors. Heck if I wanted yet another homemade product.
I deeply apologize to my mother for this ignorance.
Now that I am grown, I appreciate the thick tartness that comes from long-incubated yogurt. I yearn for the fresh, unadulterated flavor of pristine yogurt culture. Plus, my insides really like it. And I found that with a little creative vision, I didn’t need a yogurt maker at all. I was the yogurt-maker!!!!
The first time you make yogurt, you can use a good quality cup of yogurt you buy from the store. It’s a nice carrier of cultures. After that, you just save a cup of your homemade yogurt and use it in your next batch! I’m telling you this ahead of time, so you don’t go gobbling up all of your yogurt and find disappointment and despair staring at you from the bottom of the empty jar.
Buy some milk. Whatever kind you like. Organic, whole, skim, local….whatever. I used whole milk, because I heard it was the creamy-dreamiest. Buy a small cup of good quality yogurt. No fruit flavorings, if you please.
Pour the milk in a heavy bottomed dutch oven and heat it up to 185-190 degrees slowly. I kept mine at about medium heat the whole way. It took longer, but the milk didn’t burn and with limited stirring, no skin formed on top. Heating up the milk changes the protein in the milk and keeps it from separating when it cools.
While this was going on, I threw my fancy green Ball jars into a huge pot and boiled them sterile for 10 minutes. When they were done, I dumped out the water and placed the jars and lids upside down on some paper towels and draped a towel on top to keep them warm. They were ready for some yogurt containing!
I filled my sink with cold water and even threw in a few ice cubes. I was ready to cool down my milk.
Since my dutch oven is ceramic, I poured the milk into the stock pot in which I had sterilized my jars. I didn’t want my dutch oven to crack. (It’s already been through enough.) Attaching my candy thermometer to the side, I watched like a hawk as it cooled down. When it hit 115 degrees, I took 1 cup out and poured it into a bowl with my prepared yogurt and whisked it all together really well. Once blended, I poured it back into the pot with the cooled milk and whisked it again.
Pour immediately into jars. It smells delicious, by the way.
Place lids on top and screw closed. This is where you have some options. You can use a yogurt maker. Try a heating pad to keep the temperature regulated. Pour the milk directly into a thermos. Put the jars in an ice chest and pour hot water around them and shut it up tight. Some people even find their kitchen to be really warm, so they place their milk up high and let it do its business. I did none of these things.
I placed my jars in a deep casserole dish, filled the dish with hot water and placed in a barely heated oven. I had to be extra careful here! I did not want to overheat the oven, because if the milk got too hot, it would kill the cultures and my yogurt wouldn’t set.
Over the next 8 hours, I left my yogurt untouched except for removing the cold water with a turkey baster (HEY! Creative license!) and replacing with hot water. I also turned on the oven for 10 seconds and turned it off right away. I suggest keeping the oven light on as a right good incubator.
After 8 hours, well….I had to go to bed and couldn’t keep a watchful eye. Next time I’m going to use a heating pad and go right to sleep while it incubates away and gets more tart as the time goes by. As it was, it set up quite nicely. I popped them in the fridge and went to sleep. When I got up, I found my yogurt to be thick and creamy and smelling like…..YOGURT!
It made so much, I am going to give my pal a quart at work, but really, it should be good for up to a month.
And so I thank my mom, for never buying American cheese slices, for encouraging me to eat all the cuisines of the world, and for showing me that making homemade goodies in the kitchen is far superior to Yoplait.
- 1 gallon milk
- 1 cup good plain yogurt
- Place four quart glass canning jars, four lids, and four screw-tops in a large pot. Fill with water; cover with lid and heat to boiling. Boil for ten minutes. Leave the lid on the pot and move it off the heat until you are ready to use the jars.
- Pour one gallon of milk into a large, heavy bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven. Heat the milk to 185-190 degrees Farenheit(90-90 Celcius).
- Place the pot in a sink filled with cold water and let the milk cool to 120 degrees fahrenheit(50-55 degrees celsius)
- Stir one cup of yogurt starter into the cooled milk, using a whisk. Stir well to ensure that the starter is thoroughly incorporated into the milk.
- Pour the milk into jars, and put the lids and bands on. Place them into a deep casserole dish.
- Heat oven for a handful of seconds. You do not want to get it too hot or else it will kill all the culture. No hotter than 120 degrees, if you please.
- Heat one gallon of water to 120 degrees F(50-55 degrees C) and pour into deep casserole dish.
- Shut oven door, turn on oven light and leave alone. Do not jostle jars. Do not move them around. When you check on them and the oven seems cool, turn on oven for a few seconds and turn off immediately. We want that culture to grow!
- When the eight to twenty four hours are up, place the yogurt in the refrigerator.