Friday, August 27, 2010

Making Yogurt

In a small bowl or glass liquid measure, put 1/4 to 1/3 cup plain yogurt.  Set aside with a whisk and rubber scraper.
Prepare incubation method (I have a yogurt "maker", so I plug it in to warm and get out 6 yogurt cups).

Heat 1 quart of milk in a saucepan, covered or not, using a candy thermometer to check that it reaches 180 F and checking/stirring often.

Sit the saucepan in a cold water bath to cool to 105 F, still using the candy thermometer to check.

Pour approximately one cup of the cooled milk into the starter yogurt.  Whisk well.  Pour the combined starter and milk back into the saucepan and mix everything, again well.  Use the rubber scraper to make sure you're not leaving behind the good stuff in the saucepan and bowl.

Pour the starter and milk into prepared containers, with loosely fastened lids, for incubation.  Incubate at 110 to 120 F for at least 2 hours, usually 3 and up to 5.  When it is jelled, refrigerate immediately to stop the bacterial growth (the longer yogurt bacteria grows, the more tart and firm the yogurt).

Notes on the Method:

There are tons of ways to incubate yogurt - explain your method in the comments if you wish, to help along people that don't have yogurt makers.

Most recipes tell you to sterilize everything you are using to make yogurt.  I don't bother:  all my things are just clean from being washed with all the regular dishes.  If you are having trouble getting yogurt to set, try  using boiling water to sterilize all the utensils and containers you are using.

Making yogurt with skim milk will give thin, watery yogurt which is fine for baking; for eating straight up, I'd recommend at least 2% milk.

When you heat the milk at the beginning, you are killing any potentially competitive bacteria, so don't skip this step or you may end up with just spoiled milk, not yogurt (yup, I learned this firsthand); you will introduce the desired bacteria in the starter.

I make a cold water bath by plugging my sink and putting in a few inches of cold water and a tray of ice cubes. You can allow the milk to cool without the cold water bath, but it takes a lot longer.

One time, irritated with a batch that wasn't setting, I went to bed and checked it in the morning.  It had set!  Usually, however, my yogurt sets in 2.5-3 hours.

How I use yogurt:
In recipes where sour cream or buttermilk is called for.  To use yogurt for buttermilk, you may want to add a tablespoon or two of milk per cup to get a more accurate consistency.

To make salad dressings.

Smoothies - or popsicles.

Peach kuchen.

Occasionally as a snack with fruit or granola.


AP said...

I use pint jars to make my yogurt - I put a spoonful of starter yogurt in each jar and ladle a little bit of warm milk into the jar to "dissolve" the starter, stirring well with a spoon. Then I fill the jar the rest of the way, mix, and put the lid on. I place the jars into a cooler wrapped in a towel and leave them for 4-6 hours.

Rebecca said...

I use dear Pleasant View's method:

Jennifer Jo said...

I don't use a thermometer: just scald the milk, transfer it to a bowl and let it cool to lukewarm---takes about an hour. Whisk in 2-4 tablespoons starter yogurt. Pour into preheated yogurt maker (25 bucks at a kitchen store, maybe less now). Four-six hours later---YOGURT!

Margo said...

oh goody, maybe I can ditch the thermometer.

Beth said...

I'd never seen this done or explained, so thanks!

Anonymous said...

I recently read a magazine article about how to make your own Greek yogurt from regular. (I enjoy the extra creaminess of Greek yogurt for cooking but don't want to pay the higher price for it.)Place a metal strainer over a bowl, lining the strainer with a paper towel or coffee filter. Place regular yogurt in strainer, cover, and let it sit overnight. I'm making some right now, and I'll let you know how it turns out. :)

Margo said...

Punk, I've always heard this method but never remembered to do it. Yes, please, let me know how it turns out.

I've also found that if I use whole milk to make the yogurt, it is quite thick and creamy. But you can't be shy of milkfat to go that route.

Polly said...

Linked back here from the end of August post....Margo, did you ever make greek yogurt? It is my Serious Addiction and I eat a lot of it--like, daily....the ladies of this household are huge fans, and I spend $10 a week on Greek yogurt (fage) easily. EASILY. I'd love to make it....b/c I think I could do it in a thriftier manner.

I've got a donvier yogurt maker that I rarely always seemed to make the yogurt so thin!

Margo said...

dear Polly, here are 2 ways to get thicker yogurt:

1. Make it with a large percentage of heavy cream, or at least, use whole milk.

2. Strain off whey. Do this by lining a colander with cheesecloth, setting it in a bowl, and putting the regular yogurt in the lined colander. It will take a couple hours, but you will have much denser "Greek" yogurt at the end. Save the whey - I can tell you what to do with THAT in another post!

Polly said...

Okay! I made two quarts of whole-milk yogurt, then strained them both to make Greek yogurt. I used a coffee filter. I did it for about 12-14 hours. It was amazing!!!!!

So I've calculated and this is about half the cost of regular greek yogurt if I make it greek, and I'm using local milk.....

so now I have all this whey!!! What do you do w/ the whey? This is new territory for me!

Margo said...

Polly, whey is super-nutritious. For a full treatise, check out the Nourishing Traditions cookbook (although I think it's a bit over the top). You can use it as part of the water when making rice. My favorite use is soaked oatmeal pancakes. The recipe is in Simply in Season and I will try to post it shortly - it's my husband's favorite!

Anonymous said...

I heat up my milk in a corning ware saucepan/casserole, let it cool in the sink like you do, stir in the starter, put the lid on, then incubate it, still in the corning ware pan, in an old down parka that doesn't fit anyone, sitting atop an electric heating pad set on medium, for 5 hours. After it sets I divide it up into half pint canning jars.