Since we’ve been trying to eat more healthily, we’ve started going through yogurt at an alarming rate, probably 2-3 quarts a week. The plain, lowfat kind is great for our new carb-conscious eating habits, and I’ve been dressing it up with Splenda and chopped fresh strawberries. It is a thing of awesome.
It’s also a thing of expensive! It’s at least three or four times more expensive than the milk it’s made from, which just makes me cringe. So when I stumbled across a blog post about making one’s own yogurt, it was an epiphany moment.
It’s ridiculously simple: You need milk, and a bit of plain yogurt for the cultures, and a saucepan, and a bowl, and some cling film, and that’s pretty much it. Oh, and several hours. I started a batch early on Sunday afternoon, and it was technically ready to eat Monday morning.
There are a ton of recipes and instructions out there, but here’s what I did, complete with helpful tips I didn’t see anywhere in my admittedly brief searches.
Equipment I used:
- A heavy-bottomed saucepan (you could also use a double boiler made with a glass bowl set over a simmering saucepan of water, or a slow cooker, although this would take quite a long time.)
- A spoon
- A glass bowl
- A thermometer (the probe kind I poke into turkeys and roasts and things)
- A heating pad (you could also use your oven’s pilot light, if you have such a thing. My oven’s electric and therefore useless in that regard)
- Cling film
- A towel
5 cups milk*
1/4 cup plain yogurt, with active cultures (read the label)
- In the heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk over medium-low heat until it reaches 180°. You’ll want to stir fairly constantly with this method, especially once the milk starts to steam a bit, because it can totally burn, which is icky. If you’re using the double-boiler method, you can walk away for a bit.
- When it reaches 180°, pull it off the heat, pour into the bowl, and cool to 120°
- Stir in the yogurt, cover with cling film (into which you’ve poked a couple holes for ventilation), wrap in a kitchen towel and set on your heating pad, or in your warm oven.
- Go read a book or watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy or something, because this next stage is … well, sort of unpredictable. I saw time estimates ranging from 4 to 24 hours, but nothing to indicate how you’d know fermentation was done, which was … annoying. I pulled mine off the heating pad after about 8 hours, when it seemed slightly thinner than the yogurt I was used to. This led to a really, really tangy yogurt**. Oh, and it thickened considerably in the fridge over night.
- Pop it in the fridge overnight. This stops the fermentation process and thickens it quite a bit.
- BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING TO YOUR YOGURT, pull out 1/4 cup for your next batch. I forgot to do that, because I am a doofus.
And that’s it! You could also do what I did, which is to plop it into a cheesecloth-lined colander overnight to drain off the whey, which results in Greek yogurt. I stirred in some Splenda and oh my gods. It was like fucking pudding, you guys.
I’m so looking forward to experimenting with this stuff. This is cheaper and easier than just about anything else I’ve done, and the results are so awesome. Plus it lets my sweetie use that hilarious D&D analogy***, so, y’know, bonus.
* This will work with literally any kind of milk: whole, 1%, fat-free, goat, you name it. Apparently, though, there are issues with soy and almond milk, though, so if you go that route, do some judicious Googling.
** Tanginess is apparently a function of fermentation time, and possibly the cultures in your starter. I shall continue my investigation and report back!
*** So you know, in the old-skool D&D computer games, you could load your character up with gear, save it, then roll a new character, bring up the old one, offload the cool gear, and repeat until you had a full party with the same awesome gear? This is the concept of re-using a bit of the last batch of yogurt in your new batch of yogurt. See also: sourdough starter. It is also an illustration of how we’re just a little too nerdy for our own good.