Making yogurt is one of the easiest, most cost-saving things you can do. It takes merely minutes on your part and the rest of the time it does it's own thing. Kind of like cooking in a crockpot, just set it and forget it :)
The thing you need to remember about making yogurt, or any cheese for that matter, is that you need to start with squeaky clean utensils and equipment. I sterilize all of my jars, spoons, and bowls by dipping them in a pot of boiling water (the same pot I'm going to cook the yogurt in so it's getting sanitized too) and setting them out to dry on a clean towel.
I took pictures of every step in this process, but to be honest they are kind of boring so I decided to just go with a list of steps to get really nice yogurt like what I have pictured above.
You're going to need:
1 gallon of milk
1 cup of plain yogurt with live active cultures, without the cultures the yogurt won't set!
4 flat metal canning lids and 4 rings
4 quart jars
an ice chest all 4 jars will fit in (the kind you would take camping)
a large towel or blanket
- Sterilize everything. Set it aside and dump the water out of the pot.
- Pour the milk into the pot and heat it over medium high heat, stirring often, until it reached 180 degrees. The longer you can hold the milk at 180 degrees (up to 15 minutes) the thicker the yogurt will be. You're heating it this high to kill off any bacteria (good or bad) that might be in the milk so that your cultures have a chance to take over and create the yogurt. If you skip this step, and please don't, you will have very sporadic yogurt making results.
- When the milk reaches 180 degrees, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the heat. Set it aside and let it cool off to 110 degrees. This is the temperature that the active cultures like to multiply. Any hotter, you'll cool them off. And cooler and it will take FOREVER for your yogurt to set, if t does at all.
- When the milk have reached 110 degrees, remove about a cup and stir in the yogurt culture. Add it back to the big pot and just give it a quick, gentle stir. You don't want to mix the yogurt in until it's perfectly smooth, you'll want to see little bits of yogurt floating around. It's ok, it should be that way I swear.
- Pour your milk into your jars and cover them with a canning lid and ring. Put them into the ice chest and fill it about 3/4 of the way up the jars with the hottest tap water you can get. Close the lid and wrap it up with a blanket or towel. Let it sit 4-12 hours. There really is no magic number of when it will be done, some days it will take less time and sometimes it will take more. If your house is on the cooler side, like in the winter, you may have to check the water halfway through and change it out for more hot water.
After it gets thick like the yogurt in the picture, refrigerate it until it's completely cool. That's it! It rea;;y is simple and it saves us SO MUCH money.
A couple things to keep in mind:
- The longer the yogurt sets, the more sour it will be. Don't forget about it!
- You can add sweetener (sugar or honey) to the pot when you are heating the milk, but we find that the milk itself is really quite sweet without it. Experiment and see how your family likes it.
- I make all of my yogurt plain. That way, I can put a dollop of jam or some cut up fresh fruit on the bottom of a small plastic container and add yogurt on the top, essentially making my own fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt. You can add some vanilla when you add the yogurt culture if you'd like. It's really up to you.
- This will last about 5-6 days. Remember that there are no added artificial ingredients in there to help prolong the shelf life, this is real food and will go bad. Food should go bad!
- This recipe can easily be halved for people or families who won't use a gallon of yogurt in a week.
Good luck and congratulations of taking the step to make yogurt. It's very fulfilling and I think you'll come to enjoy it as much as I do. Let me know if you have any questions and I'll be more than happy to answer them for you. I want you to be a yogurt making success!