Thursday, June 25, 2009

I finally made some decent yogurt!

I've tried sporadically for the past 6 months to make some decent yogurt, but for some reason, all of my attempts were failures. I tried all different recipes and incubating methods, but the yogurt always turned out too soft or too tart. Monday was finally my first success, so I want to share the recipe and method I used to make 4 quarts of yogurt. This is really going to save me some money, because my kids eat a TON of yogurt and I was buying a whole bunch for the week and spending about $12! Now I can just buy 1 gallon of milk and make the same amount of yogurt for about $2.30. I got my recipe and incubation method from a website called:

Plain yogurt
1 gallon whole milk
1/2C maple syrup
2/3C dry milk
1C plain yogurt with live active cultures
Pour milk into a large, heavy bottomed pot and slowly heat to 185 degrees over medium heat. You'll need to stir frequently to avoid scorching and check your thermometer! After the milk reaches 185 degrees, remove the pot from the heat and cool it down to 110 degrees. This will take a LONG time. Make sure you check your thermometer frequently once it gets close to 110 degrees. While the milk is cooling, add the powdered milk and maple syrup, stirring to dissolve everything. After the milk reaches 110 degrees, add the 1C of yogurt, stirring well with a whisk to combine it with the milk. Pour the milk into 4 CLEAN quart sized canning jars and screw the lids on. Place the canning jars in a cooler and heat some water up to 120 degrees. Pour the water into the cooler with the jars, stopping about 1 inch from the top of the jars. Place the lid on the cooler and let the jars sit for about 12 hours. Remove them from the cooler and transfer to the fridge for another 12-24 hours. Now your yogurt is ready to enjoy!

I've found that homemade yogurt isn't as stiff as store bought, but it still turns out pretty good! My kids ate up a whole quart of it yesterday and I plan to use some in their morning smoothie today.


Mary said...

But I'm confused--you use plain yogurt to make plain yogurt? What am I missing here?

Frugal Liz said...

You have to use a yogurt starter, which can be found in already made yogurt!

Mary said...

Oh, I understand--it's like when Ma Ingalls used a starter for bread!

Frugal Liz said...

Actually, I have a modification for this recipe! Leave out the maple syrup and your yogurt will have a better texture!

JanKnitz said...

I'm new to your blog and so a late response to yogurt making. I've been working on streamlining my process for making yogurt.

I heat the milk in the microwave (I have a large pyrex measuring cup--big enough to hold 2 quarts of milk). While the milk is heating, I preheat my crockpot on low.

When the milk is cooled to 110 degrees, I innoculate it with the culture, and then I can either 1) pour the milk into the crock pot (if I'm making a lot)or into a quart jar (if I'm only making a quart).

If making only a quart, I close the jar tightly and wrap it with a thick towel then stuff it into the crock pot, and close the crockpot lid. Even in my big crockpot, I can fit only one quart sized mason jar lying on its side (wrapped in the towel) Then I UNPLUG the crockpot and leave it for 8 or more hours.

If I'm making more than a quart, I pour the innoculated milk into the crock pot, UNPLUG the crock pot, and wrap the entire crockpot in a towel for 8 or more hours.

It is muchless fuss to heat the milk in the microwave (after some trial and error you will know how long a certain volume of milk takes to get to 185 degrees in your own microwave)and cool and incubate in the quart jar. No messy water baths to cool it or keep it warm.

We have a "yogurt cheese maker" which is really just a cone shaped permanent coffee filter with plastic mesh to drain yogurt and make it firmer (like Greek Style Yogurt). I saw very similar permanent coffee filters for about $2.95 at the grocery store the other day.

The yogurt is smooth and creamy, if a little bit loose (unless you drain it as above). As you have learned, add the flavorings afterward. My favorite is a little honey and some homemade granola. My kids like a spoonful of their favorite fruit preserves.

Frugal Liz said...

My kids love yogurt with preserves too! This Summer, I have made blackberry, strawberry, mango and mixed berry. I always heat the yogurt on the stove, because we don't have a microwave! Also, I make 4 quarts at a time, because my kids eat yogurt like crazy.:P Your crock pot incubation method is really good. I'll have to try that!