I’ve written a little here about my cheese making exploits. (That farmhouse cheddar was okay, but I learned a lot about temperature control and what can cause sour flavors. However, the parmesan I made after that was amazing.) Anthony eventually made me a cheese press and I’ve explored a few hard cheeses and several soft cheeses.
One of the reasons we often try these crazy food experiments, crafting exploits and such are to try to save costs. A while ago we decided to try and make yogurt for just that reason. We go through a lot of yogurt and it always ends up being one of the more expensive things on our grocery receipt. (I must insert here that we have a pretty ridiculously low grocery receipt… Maybe that’ll be a future blog post.) We tried, and tried and it just never quite worked out the way we liked. It was runny with some yogurt flavor. Sometimes it was a little thicker, but not really what we were used to or wanted. So we just kind of decided that yogurt making was probably not our thing and set it aside.
Now that we have our little guy though, we wanted yogurt with more fat in it. Both Connor and I needed more calories, and this seemed like a great way to help that along. However, it is super hard to find yogurt that isn’t low fat or fat free. I love greek yogurt, but now our grocery receipt started climbing again. So after listening to this interview of Sandor Katz on Splendid Table, everything made sense. We have Wild Fermentation (which I immediately pulled off the shelf) and the Art of Fermentation is definitely on the wish list. I knew what I had been doing wrong! Maybe we could be yogurt makers after all.
Let me just say, I would love to find an heirloom yogurt starter. That sounds like so much fun. However, without one, we purchased a small container of Nancy’s Yogurt and so far it’s lasted 5 batches of yogurt and is going strong. Want to make yogurt? Here’s our process.
You Will Need:
- 1/2 gallon of milk (it’s cheaper to get 1 gallon and use the rest for something else)
- Yogurt Starter (see below)
- Time (approx. 8-10 hours)
Easy right! The hardest part can be the starter. You can purchase a starter like this one or you can try to use a yogurt from the store. The secret is to check the ingredients. It needs to be plain yogurt with nothing added to insure success. If you are using an existing yogurt you’ll need 1 tablespoon per quart of milk.
Take your 1/2 gallon of milk in a pot and place on medium low heat. You want the milk to heat slowly. Stir it occasionally. I often am doing some various chores while making yogurt. Tidy here, stir the yogurt, clean there, stir the yogurt, etc. It takes me about 20-30 mins or so to heat up.
Your target temp is 175°-180°.
I love using this thermometer because I can walk away and it’ll beep at me when it’s ready. I just wish that it worked as the milk is cooling down also!
After the milk has reached temp, turn off the heat and let it cool to 110°. This isn’t surprising if you’ve ever made anything yeasted, or with a living culture. Higher temperatures will kill off yeast, cultures, scoby, mother, etc.
Now I place my starter in my glass pan and spoon in some of the warm milk to mix. People often use mason jars as a container, we just happen to really like this pan for yogurt making in our dehydrator. (Since I’m using yogurt from the store I put in 2 tablespoons for the 1/2 gallon of milk. It’s super important to not put any more than that for a healthy yogurt! That’s one of the things we were doing wrong before: thinking more was better.) Whisk together and then add the rest of the warm milk.
We have a fancy dehydrator that we use for our yogurt making. However, you don’t need this to do it. Plenty of people use a cooler packed with towels, hot water bottles. Something that will help it maintain of temp of 110° – 115°. We put it in the dehydrator and run it for 6-8 hours. When it’s pulled out, it mostly looks like yogurt, but it will also get a little thicker when refrigerated.
Ours has been delicious and a great way for us to save a little money!