How to make homemade yogurt
The health benefits of yogurt (some of which we discussed in our post about cultured dairy here) are many. Today it is or already has become one of the new “it” foods. Just look at the grocery store, there’s probably one aisle dedicated to yogurt and cheese. The variety and type of yogurt seem endless;
“Do I buy kefir, or do I buy Greek?”
“What about goat’s milk yogurt?”
“Swedish yogurt? I don’t even know what that is!”
“2%, fat free, whole, ….raw!?”
With that kind of selection why make your own yogurt? Well, maybe you’re just obsessed with knowing how everything is made and trying to make it yourself (or maybe that’s just me.)
Well, the main reason to make your own yogurt is sugar. To a lot of people, plain yogurt just doesn’t taste that good, so how do you sell it? Add sugar! Mmmmm, yummy, “now they’ll buy it!” The problem is depending on type and flavor, there’s quite a bit of sugar in these. A cup of a major name brand has 26 g of sugar (a 12 oz Coke has 39 g)! The little plain yogurt that I use some of as a starter has 15 g and we don’t even use the whole thing. Plus that little bit of yogurt makes a 1/2 gallon of yogurt. One of the main points of yogurt and that the bacteria eat the lactose (dairy sugar) and convert it to lactic acid (tangy yumminess!). Then we go and add refined sugar back into it so that it “tastes better.”
Also, as is the case with all do-it-yourself recipes, there’s ingredient control. Want to know what quality of milk your yogurt started out as? Want to know how many (or few) live active cultures are in your yogurt? How about which and how much of those sweeteners are used? Well, we should want to know all of this, and making it at home you get to decide what does and does not go in.
But really, it’s cheap, it’s EASY, and it’s amazingly good! Maybe it’s even a little fun doing the process right in your own kitchen that is THOUSANDS of years old (if you’re a history buff and/or love geeking out on useless info check out this history of yogurt on dairygoodness.ca)!
There’s many ways to make yogurt (the variety is in the details), but the science is simple. Heat the milk to prepare the whey proteins. Cool the milk a bit to not kill the incoming bacteria. Add bacteria. Let it sit while bacteria multiply. Stop bacteria from multiplying. That’s it, easy right?
Here’s the method and tools I use.
To start, put your half gallon of milk in a sauce pan on low heat (we’re trying to heat the milk without scalding it). Using a thermometer like this one we use, heat the milk to 190°.
(the fat floats to the surface when the milk is not homogenized.)
Once at 190°, we need to quickly cool it down to 120°. I do this by “floating” the 3qt pot in a 8qt pot will some ice water in it and whisk until cooled to 120°.
Whisk the yogurt and the pectin in well and then divide the yogurt into the two 1qt jars.
Place the jars in an igloo style lunch box and fill with HOT tap water (tap water needs to reach temp of about 120° and mine sits right at 120° on full heat). Once filled with water up to the line on the jar where the top of the yogurt reaches, cover the lunch box and let sit for 4-8 hours.
The longer it sits, the stronger the tangy yogurt flavor will be. When it’s ready, take the jars out, dry them off, and whisk the yogurt in the jar (the whisking helps stop the culturing process). Put the jars in the fridge and let cool. When cooled, you have 1/2 gallon of awesome yogurt!
Great! Now what do I do with it? This post was for the why and the how. See our post here for what to do with it.