Thursday, April 28, 2011


I started making yogurt again a couple months ago. Years ago, when we had milk cows and the boys were all home, I made yogurt by the gallon for a couple of years. Usually we had it with granola and added homemade jams for sweetener. I stopped making it when I started working, and the cows were gone around the same time.

A couple people asked about how to make it. There are several tutorials online for the process. I can show you, though, how I do it.

First step is to heat the milk to 180-185 degrees. I use 2% milk, but you can use whole and probably skim too. I use a candy thermometer for measuring the temperature, and I also use a double boiler because milk will scorch quickly if it's not stirred constantly while heating. I was lucky enough to find my double boiler at a consignment shop for a couple dollars, and I have also seen them on eBay for reasonable prices. Put water in the bottom of the double boiler, milk in the top. I use about 2 quarts of milk for each batch.

While the milk is heating, the jars need to be washed and sterilized. I heat water to boiling and pour it in to the jars. I put the lids in a pan and bring them to a boil too. I have a variety of small jars I use, including jars that once held things like marinated artichokes. These have to be very, very clean--any residue of pickling liquid or spices will ruin yogurt. For this batch, I just used my half-pint canning jars. I re-use old lids, since they don't have to seal, they just need to keep the yogurt for slopping out.

I stir the milk off and on while I'm getting the jars ready, and as the temperature gets higher, I stir it almost constantly, probably the last 2 or 3 minutes. When the temperature has reached 180-185 degrees, I take it off the stove, remove the bottom part of the boiler and pour off the boiling water. Then I refill the pan with cold water and put the top part back on it so that the milk will cool more quickly.

When the milk has cooled to 110 degrees, I stir in some already-made PLAIN yogurt. This is the culture, and if you use store-bought yogurt make sure the label says something like this:

You need that active culture for your yogurt to thicken. I use an old hand mixer for this, but a whisk or fork would probably work too.

Then the yogurt is ladled into the sterilized jars, the lids are put on and tightened, and I put them into a pan of very hot tap water.

The next step depends on your house. I am able to use my oven to culture the yogurt because my pilot light is always on and the oven stays at the perfect temperature--around 110 degrees. So you need to find a place that works in your house. I have heard of people using crock pots with hot water in them, and just turning it on every so often to keep the temperature even. Keeping the jars in a pan of hot water works for others, but you'd need to keep the temperature even. A sunny window on a warm day might also work. I've wondered about a heating pad--putting it under or around the jars. I'm sure there are many other creative methods of doing this.

The yogurt needs several hours to be thick and ready to eat. I usually make mine in the evening and by the time we get up in the morning it's ready. Generally expect it to take 4-8 hours to thicken.

When it's ready we put it in the fridge. I like mine sweetened and usually add some homemade jam to the jar before eating (this jar has pear conserve added--yum!). Larry prefers it plain, and says it reminds him of buttermilk.

That's all there is to it--a lot of hurry up and wait, as my mother would have said. But the end result beats anything you will get at the store, hands down.


steeleweed said...

Wonder if I could use the L. Acidophilus available as a probiotic pill (used to combat the affect of antibiotics)...

Liz said...

I just made yogurt in my crockpot last weekend, from a recipe on a crockpot cooking blog. I think it turned out pretty good, but it was a little too milky for my daughter's taste - she likes most dairy products but not straight milk!

hart said...

Replacing the boiling water with cold is a great idea.Yours also came out much thicker than what I used to make.-Jane

Jai Joshi said...

We pretty much make it the same way only we don't put it in hot water. I just leave it in the boiler room or on top of the fridge where it's warm. Usually does the trick.


Steve Ferendo said...

Looks good. I love fresh yogurt. Thank you.

Granny Sue said...

I don't know, Steeleweed, but it sounds like the same thing. You could always try crushing it up and giving it a try--or would it be too grainy?

Liz, I have heard of using a crockpot and it makes sense. I had to laugh at "too milky!" But I know how kids can have ideas like that, and there is no dissuading them!

I have been having good luck with the thickness, Jane, and I wonder if it's because I leave it so long at the warm temp in the oven? I tried leaving it 4 hours and it was pretty thin--good, but too thin for my taste. Leaving it overnight was an accident the first time but we were so impressed with the result that now I do it on purpose.

Granny Sue said...

I would never have thought of the top of the fridge, Jai! What a great idea.

Anytime, Steve :)

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