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Monday, August 25, 2008

Homemade Yogurt

With a few household items you can make your own homemade yogurt. It is creamy and smooth and completely satisfying. I love to eat it for breakfast with granola, for dessert with fresh fruit or jam, or for a snack just as it is. I also feel much better about serving this natural yogurt to my baby. Give it a try and you will never buy yogurt from the store again!

4 quarts milk (whatever fat content you prefer, 2%, whole, half and half, or a combination)*
2 cups instant dry milk powder
2 cups sweetener of choice (fructose, sugar, honey, or none)*
2 small cartons (or 2 cups) plain yogurt
1-2 heating pads, candy thermometer, jars or other container

Get all your equipment ready before starting - plug in heating pads, have blankets or towels out, have jars and lids ready to fill. The temperatures are the touchy part of this process so you want to move quickly when the time comes.

Heat milk, dry milk, and sweetener in a large pot or double boiler to keep milk from scalding . Whisk lightly until milk and fructose are dissolved.

Using a candy thermometer check temperature constantly and heat until it reaches 180. Hold at roughly 180 for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and place the pot in a cold water bath. Reduce heat quickly to 120 by stirring the milk.

Gently whisk in yogurt (Do not add yogurt while milk is hot.  It will kill your culture). Dump into desired containers (5 quart jars).

Incubate.  I tuck it in and say a prayer over my yogurt.  This is nutritious food that will feed my family.  There are lots of methods for incubation.  Heating pad - Wrap the jars in a towel, wrap a heating pad around that, then wrap towels or blanket around all to keep insulated. Cooler - Wrap in blanket and place in a cooler.  Close lid tightly.  Oven - place jars on oven rack.  Close oven door and turn the oven light on.  Leave over night.  Incubate for 10-12 hours. Set a timer or write a note to remind you to take them off. Chill in fridge and enjoy.

*You can alter the milk and sweetener to your taste. The family I nannied for in Philly is part middle eastern. They like their yogurt very sour so I didn't add any sweetener.  I like this because it's also great to use for baking and other recipes.  Then we add honey and fruit by the bowl. I also like 1 1/2 cups powdered milk and 1 1/2 cups sweetener. To get the consistency I prefer, I use 3 quarts half and half and one quart 2% milk. Using all half and half will get you a consistency that is very thick and you can cut it with a spoon. My aunt likes to use 1 cup powdered milk, 1 cup fructose (sometimes up to 1.5 cups), and 4 containers of yogurt starter, 1/2 gallon whole milk (4%) with 1/2 gallon, or 2 quarts, of Half and Half. This just shows that you can adapt the recipe to your liking. The critical part is the temperature. Also try adding a flavored yogurt starter for a subtle flavor, or extracts for stronger flavor, or essential oils. I like to leave mine plain so I can flavor each bowl differently. You might have to experiment to get it just how you like it.


Taylor Gardner said...

Dallin and I have been savoring our yogurt non-stop over the past few days. This truly IS the best yogurt I've had and I, too, get that 'feel good' feeling feeding it to my family and baby.

Jami said...

I succeeded with this yogurt after several attempts and wanted to pass along some hints for anyone else who might be wanting to try this out.

-You don't have to use different kinds of milk. I only used 1% milk (I did add powdered milk also) and it turned out fine, a good consistency that isn't too runny or thick.

-the recipe can be halved, or even quartered.

-My heating pad was too hot for the yogurt on the highest setting and would curdle the yogurt. I think that this will have to be trial and error for anyone who tries! (there are different methods for incubating yogurt; here is a website that you can check out

-My yogurt, on the correct setting of my heating pad, only takes 6-7 hours incubation time. However, I used pint jars instead of quart jars. On one of my first attempts, I used quart jars and it curdled at the top when I followed the 12-hour incubation time guideline. I recommend checking it after about 6 hours and going from there.

-the powdered milk is not a necessary addition, but it will add thickness to the consistency, especially if using a low fat milk. I use a non-instant milk and have to make a roux with it (with milk) before adding to the rest of the milk so it doesn't clump up.

I'm so happy that I was successful this time and am confident now that I can do it again. Like is mentioned in the recipe, so much depends on the temperature. That was my downfall before. Thanks for the idea to make yogurt! I honestly don't think I ever would have considered it otherwise.

Lyanna said...

Once this yogurt is a finished product, does it still need to be store in the fride, even if not opened, or is it truly "canned" and can be stored at room temp? I know this sounds silly, and I do think it needs to be in the fridge, but you never know...

Jami said...

Oh yes, store in the fridge. It is not a canned product, the temperature never gets high enough to kill the bacteria (bacteria is actually what makes the yogurt).

You can keep it in the fridge for awhile though. The guidelines I've seen have been for about 10 days, but I'm sure if you use sterile jars and lids that it would probably be just fine stored longer.

I've heard of people freezing some of their yogurt for their yogurt start. If you have an older yogurt in the fridge, I wouldn't attempt to use it for the start. I did that on one of my attempts and it didn't work. :) Fortunately though, there are many things that yogurt that is less than desirable can be used for in baking!

If anyone is interested in some yogurt recipes let me know. Even when I had grainy yogurt it worked just fine in baked recipes. You can substitute yogurt for sour cream for instance.

Good luck if you try it out!

Kristin Kimble Purles said...

Thanks Jami for all your tips. It can be frustrating at first to make because everyone's tools and tastes are slightly different so I'm glad you had the confidence and knowledge to try it until you got it right. Hopefully others will do the same because it's so worth it once you figure it out. Try different heat settings on your heating pad or blanket, different lengths of incubation time, make only a half batch at a time until you get it how you like it so you don't have as much invested if it doesn't turn out. I would love some recipes for "less than desirable" yogurt. I usually put it in shakes or use it as a marinade for meat but that's it. Yes, keep it in the fridge for sure. I have used yogurt that's several weeks old and don't worry about it a bit. When it's bad it will have a pink film on top.

Jami said...

I'll try to post some of my recipes that I use when my yogurt fails soon. Time is hard to come by these days! I'm due in less than two weeks, hooray!

I wanted to also let you know of a little kitchen store in Orem, Bosch Kitchen Center, 176 W Center St., Orem, that sells fructose in bulk for about $1.30/pound. The only other place I've seen it is at Good Earth and their price is right around $2/lb. Has anyone found it cheaper somewhere else?