Friday, May 1, 2009

I have had a couple people ask me about my yogurt, so I thought I should post about it.  

When I responded to someone's offer of a crockpot on Freecycle, I also got a yogurt-maker in the bargain.  Whoo-hoo!  I've actually only made yogurt twice because I found it to be barely cheaper than the plain yogurt I can purchase here and I don't have a candy thermometer (yet!), so I always feel nervous about the outcome.  However, it's worked out great both times and I am starting to experiment with flavored yogurts - which would save more money.  I'll share both methods I've tried.

Here is the basic yogurt-making method that I have used:

Homemade Yogurt
                      1 quart of milk (I use whole because it will set better, but would like to try less 
                      1/3 c. milk powder; opt. (again, helps it to get thicker)
                      1 T - 1/2 c. plain yogurt (with active bacteria) or recommended amount of      
                                          powdered culture

Heat the milk to 180ºF (when the milk starts to froth) stirring frequently.  Add milk powder.  Remove from heat and allow to cool down to 110ºF (this step can be sped up by placing pan in a basin of cool water).  Add the cultured yogurt.  Incubate for 8 hours or overnight.  Place in fridge to cool.  Reserve enough in freezer for next yogurt making day. Enjoy!

Incubating methods:

The best way is to use a yogurt maker, but here are some other possible methods I found here:

Method A:Prewarm oven to 200 degrees F and turn off. Use an oven thermometer to monitor temperature — do not let it drop below 100 degrees F. Turn oven on for short periods during incubation to maintain a temperature of 108 degrees F to 112 degrees F.
Method B:Line an ice chest (picnic cooler) with aluminum foil. Place four, one-quart jars filled with hot water (about 140 degrees F) inside the ice chest with the yogurt container(s) and cover ice chest with a tight-fitting lid. Allow space between jars and container(s) of yogurt.
Method C:Nestle several cardboard boxes inside each other, placing crushed newspapers between each box. Continue as directed in Method B for ice chest.
Method D:A simple way to incubate a small amount of yogurt is to pour the yogurt mixture into a wide-mouth thermos and cover with a tight lid. When the yogurt is ready, loosen the thermos lid before storing it in the refrigerator so the yogurt can cool rapidly.
Method E:Set filled container(s) of yogurt on a towel-covered heating pad set on medium heat in a sheltered corner on a kitchen counter. Cover the jars with several towels.

One other method that I have never tried, but sounds extremely easy is to use the crockpot.

Goodness.. all this talk about yogurt made me crave some.  So, I was helping myself in the kitchen when my toddler discovered me.  I wanted to take a picture of the bliss we were experiencing as we exclaimed over each bite, so I got my camera and made it back in time to pull him off the counter where he was trying to get to more of that yummy yogurt.  Between the two of us, we finished off the container. 

Flavoring Yogurts
Note: You should not use a flavored yogurt as the starter for your next batch.  It is best to freeze plain yogurt in correct portions for that purpose or just make it each time with a store-bought starter.

After heating milk, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, honey, maple syrup, chocolate syrup, malt, molasses or sweetener. Add 1 TBSP of extract - vanilla, lemon, almond, peppermint or instant coffee.  Allow to cool to 110ºF, add culture, blah, blah.. carry on as usual.  (I used sugar and vanilla for my trial run and it was GOOD!)

Other options: add 1 tsp. of ground spices - cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, ginger

For jam, preserve or peanut butter flavors, add 1 TBSP to the bottom of the cup containers before incubating. (Assuming you are using a yogurt maker, otherwise you will need about 6x the amount for the whole batch.)

Fresh fruit should always be added after the yogurt has set as it will inhibit the process.

I would love to hear about your yogurt-making experiences or flavors that you have enjoyed.

Comments (2)

On May 4, 2009 at 9:50 PM , Anna said...

I've never tried it with whole milk before...but definitely want to now. After the price of powdered milk shot way up, I found buying the plain kind and adding my own berries and sweeteners was cheaper than making it. But--if it works with whole milk that would definitely be worth trying. :) Thanks for all the great tips!

On May 5, 2009 at 11:55 AM , Jia Le said...

I hope it works for you. I want to try it with 2% sometime, but I don't know if it will set as well. From what I've seen online, it seems that people who use milk with low fat content tend to add gelatin to make their yogurts thicker. That might be worth a try too.