Friday, August 26, 2011

Homemade Yogurt

It's funny because a while back I said I would never make yogurt...well, maybe I didn't say "never," but I was pretty adamant that I wouldn't. Oh how a little time can change a person's heart (remember, I once felt the same way about cloth diapering and homemade baby food and look at me now, I'm a  huge fan). My biggest hesitation was the words, "live cultures." It just sounded dangerous or something. But after a few inspirational blog posts (here, here, and here) I was finally convinced it wasn't as scary as it sounded and took the plunge.

Here's how it all went down:
  • First I decided on my recipe and my plan of attack. My adaptation came from this recipe, this recipe, and some advice from my friends Matt and Tami who have done this a few times. (Do you guys have a blog by the way? You should). So here are the ingredients and supplies:
    • 1 gallon organic whole milk
    • 2 Tablespoons starter yogurt with live cultures (I used some of my remaining Nancy's Plain Organic Whole Milk Yogurt)
    • 4 wide mouth, quart-size canning jars (5 if you don't want to fill them to the brim)
    • a candy thermometer
    • a big ol' pot
    • a wire whisk
    • a ladle
    • your oven
  • Now step-by-step:
    • Sterilize your glass jars. I bought my jars new, on sale $7.99/for 12, but turns out they had them at Goodwill for a mere $0.39/each! I will definitely try to remember to look there first in the future. (By the way, I spun my jars around to make sure they were sufficiently sterilized, just in case you were worried).
    • Warm gallon of milk on stove to 180 degrees Fahrenheit (use a candy thermometer to help you out with that one). Whisk continuously to prevent scorching (I stopped whisking just long enough to take a picture :)
    •  Once the milk heats up to 180 degrees, take off heat and let cool to 110 degrees (this cooling process took about an HOUR...definitely didn't see that one coming which is why I was up until about midnight making yogurt that night - who am I kidding, though, I'm usually up until midnight because apparently I'm a glutton for punishment).
    • When the milk has cooled to 110 degrees, slowly and evenly whisk in your 2 Tablespoons of starter yogurt (some recipes called for 2-3 Tbsp, so I think I did 2 generous Tbsp - some recipes said not to over whisk at this point, so I made sure my starter yogurt was at room temp so that it would easily blend. I'm not sure if this made a difference, but it couldn't have hurt!).

    • Ladle mixture into 4 quart-sized canning jars (I used wide mouth jars because I thought they would be easier and less messy to fill. You might want to use 5 jars if you're afraid of spillage).

    • Let jars sit in your oven with the light ON over night (for at least 10 hours). This keeps the mixture warm (steady at 110 degrees) and allows all that goodness to incubate (lol, I have no idea what I'm talking about, but I like to say "incubate"). I decided to turn my oven on for a couple minutes at its lowest heat setting before putting in the jars, just to make sure it would be a warm and welcome host for this little science experiment (make sure you turn the oven OFF before putting in the jars, only the oven light should be on).  There are other ways of keeping the temp steady (Matt and Tami put their jars into a cooler with warm water), but this was the best solution for us because we don't own a big enough cooler.

    • After that 10 hours is up, chill in frig and enjoy! (If you're like my boys, you'll want to doctor it up a little bit first. Little J takes his plain with fresh fruit and flax seed meal, the hubby likes to add a generous teaspoon or two of jam for sweetener, along with fresh fruit).
So, the results were: successful homemade yogurt with (if I do say so myself) the perfect consistency. Not so scary after all. $5 for one gallon of milk yielded FOUR quarts of yogurt. For Nancy's, one quart usually runs a minimum of $3 for the Plain Organic Whole Milk variety. That's a savings of SEVEN dollars! Plus think of all that store-bought packaging we're not wasting. I'm sold.

Here's the thing, I don't know how long the stuff is good for. We go through a lot of yogurt in this house, but I just don't know the shelf life. If anyone can tell me, please do! If we can't make it through all four quarts before it expires, I will have to rethink my plan of attack and shoot for a half gallon's worth. Can anyone help a sister out? If you're not already making yogurt, what do you think? Doesn't a science experiment sound like fun every now and then? (Who watched Mr. Wizard as a kid? I did! He even came to my elementary school once. What's up now?).


  1. So glad you tried it. It will last for awhile (at least a couple of weeks), but we have a hard time getting through it all. We should split a gallon sometime if you don't think you will get through it all. I have a confession now. I was consistently making yogurt, but then I tried honey greek yogurt, and it tastes like ice cream. I want to try to figure out how to make greek yogurt now.

  2. Lol, since you're confessing, I'll confess too. I hate yogurt. This is all for my boys. I've tried to like it my whole life because I know how good it is for me, but no such luck (and too bad fro-yo doesn't count because I like that just fine :) So, if this honey Greek yogurt you speak of tastes like ice cream, I should probably try it out! Maybe it would be just the thing.

    So, here's the recipe I found for Greek yogurt when I was doing my homemade yogurt research: - but it pretty much sounds the same as our two recipes except that she strains hers with cheesecloth. Let me know if you find something that works!

  3. This is on my list for things to try this year!

  4. I've been doing this for 4 months now Andrea and it's working out great!