Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Homemade Yogurt

When I posted the Yogurt Cups with Stewed Blueberries, many of you razzed me for not including instructions for making yogurt.  Somehow it has taken a year for me to finally get to it.  Whoops! Well, making yogurt is a cinch, and if you eat yogurt regularly, it will save you money.  Dave often rescues milk from his school (if his students don't drink their milk, it gets tossed) to make yogurt cheese.  Though making yogurt with good quality organic milk makes a huge difference.

The equipment needed is pretty basic.  A thermometer is essential, and a double boiler is highly recommended since it ensures that you won't burn the milk as it heats.  Also, since you need to incubate the yogurt for several hours, you need an insulated space that can be maintained around 95 degrees. We found that having the oven light on in our oven suffices.  

You can check to see if your oven light will heat up your oven to the right temperature: just set your thermometer in the oven with the oven light on and check it after about 15 minutes.  

Homemade Yogurt
makes 1 quart of yogurt

I like using 2 percent milk because it makes my yogurt rich but not too heavy.  It will also thicken up nicely.  One percent is fine also, but I'd shy away from skim milk. 


scant 1 quart 2% or whole good quality milk (a full quart won't fit in a quart jar with the added yogurt)
about 2 Tbsp plain yogurt with live cultures (we use Nancy's), at room temperature


candy thermometer (or any food thermometer that goes up to 180)
double boiler or thick-bottomed saucepan
quart-sized glass jar

Heat milk in a double boiler with an inch of barely simmering water in the bottom pot until milk reaches 180 degrees. If you don't have a double boiler, then heat milk in saucepan on medium, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon.  Remove from heat.

Pour warm milk into jar and set in a bowl of cold water. Place a piece of cloth on the jar to make sure nothing falls into it. Let cool to between 90 and 100 degrees, about 20 minutes. Turn on the oven light. Stir yogurt into warm milk. Cover jar with the cloth and a rubber band. Set in oven and incubate for about 12 hours. If the yogurt is still thin after the 12 hours, then let it sit a few hours longer. Also, we like to strain our yogurt with a cheese cloth or cloth napkin for a couple hours to thicken it like Greek yogurt. You can strain it for even longer to make yogurt cheese. The whey that is strained out is packed with nutrients and can replace buttermilk in baking. It's also great for the compost.

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