This week I dusted off the yogurt maker that I asked for for Christmas 2 years ago. Since we started drinking raw milk (a few months after I got my yogurt maker) I haven’t had as much “left over milk” and as such had neglected making yogurt at home. Instead I had been buying the plain yogurt from Costco. However, recently they stopped carrying that brand and I was forced to remember that I could do this myself. I had forgotten how easy it is to make. Perhaps you might be interested in the process:
I will back up to say that before I got my yogurt maker, I did a bit of research on Amazon to choose which kind of yogurt maker I wanted and decided on the yolife (model YL-210) version. There are many styles out there and you can even make yogurt without a “maker” (see the bottom of this post for alternative methods) but I have been pleased with this model. One of the things I liked about this particular brand was that the jars that are included are made of glass (instead of plastic) and that it comes with two different sized covers (so I can make larger batches in my canning jars). I like knowing exactly what is in it (I really don’t like the taste of the artificial sweeteners, nor do I like the potential side effects) and making it myself gives me the assurance of exactly what is in it and that it has a high level of healthy bacteria. Here is the process:
1. Start with 1 quart of milk (or soymilk).
2. Heat milk or on low heat while stirring. Turn off heat before milk reaches boiling point (at about 176˚F-185˚F). I use my food thermometer to help me know how hot it is. I don’t know why this heating step is important (because you let the milk cool back down as you will see in the next step) but it is. I have tried making yogurt without heating up my milk first (because it was raw and I hated to “cook” all the good stuff in my raw milk) but it didn’t set up properly so don’t skip this step.
3. Let your milk cool until it is lukewarm (about 105˚F). This time of year it is so cold outside I simply set it out on my back porch out of the dogs reach and it is cool in no time (good thing we don’t have any stray cats in the area).
4. Activate a small amount of milk by thoroughly mixing in the recommended amount of your yogurt starter (see your yogurt starter package for details) to a small amount of milk until all of the powder is evenly dissolved (I forgot to do that this once and just mixed it in with all the milk and it worked just fine)! OR an alternative to using powdered starter is to use 2T of plain yogurt purchased from the store (make sure the container says that it contains live active bacteria) or if you have made yogurt recently, use 2T from a prior batch. I have read that you can continue to reuse starter for new batches up to 5 times until you should start with fresh starter.
5. Mix in the activated milk into the rest of your milk and stir thoroughly.
6. Pour the milk mixture into individual glass jars or into a larger container (up to 80 oz). Do not put a lid on the containers.
7. Place the yogurt container(s) inside your Yolife (or other yogurt making “machine”) and cover. Plug in Yolife and set the time indicator (on the top of the lid) to the time you started making your yogurt. Don’t have a yogurt maker? See the bottom of this post for some great alternatives using just an ice chest or crock pot!
8. Your yogurt should be ready in 8-12 hours if using the small jars (as I am in the photo above), or 12-15 hours if using a larger container or jars (like my photo below). Remove when a firm curd is formed.
9. If you want to add sweetener or fruit, now is a good time to do it (or there are ways to do it before you make the yogurt, I just haven’t tried these methods yet). I have often used agave nectar (rather than honey because it mixes into cold food well) but after reading this blog post I am on the fence on how I feel about agave nectar. Fruit is another great option (often my canned peaches or a mashed up banana) as well as jam. However if I am adding my yogurt to a smoothie, I just use it plain.
Interested in learning more? This blog post is a good one that covers the process of yogurt making in more depth and shows you how to do it using a simple ice chest/picnic cooler. Want to try it with a crock pot? Check out this post! Using raw milk for your yogurt? This post might be helpful (read the whole thing as she adds info a the bottom to show different results she got over time).