Friday, November 2, 2012

Super Easy Homemade Yogurt

Okay!  I am super excited about this post!  Yes, I have discovered an easy way to make yogurt! 
Now, by my 9th try, I had figured out how to make yogurt out of my own goat milk, using my insulated yogurt maker, but that may not exactly help you, my reader, out very much, since you most likely don't have a dairy goat in the backyard or a Yogatherm in your pantry.

Since Razz is no longer producing milk for us and I'm back to buying from the grocery store, I thought this would be a great time to experiment with making yogurt using store-bought milk and gear that nearly any well-stocked kitchen has on hand.

(I just LOVE a good kitchen experiement!)
So, you'll want to start with store-bought whole milk.   I used 1/2 gallon.

Check your milk's label.  It can be pasteurized, but it cannot be "ultra-pasteurized" or cannot be labeled "UHT."  This milk is what you might call "dead" milk.  It will not support the bacterial growth necessary to produce yogurts or cheese because all those beneficial bacteria have been killed off during the ultra-pasteurization process. For more info on this, check here.)

Step 1:  Heat the milk to 180 degrees.  Because I was attempting to dirty the fewest dishes possible, I did this in my CrockPot.  I just set it on high and stirred and checked the temperature every once in awhile.  It probably took about an hour to reach 180 degrees.  If you're more pressed for time, you could heat the milk, using a double-broiler method, on the stovetop.

Step 2:  Once it's reached 180 degrees, bring the temperature down to 120 degrees.  I did this by removing my Crock from my Pot and setting it into a sinkful of icewater.  Check the temperature every few minutes because you really don't want it to drop any lower than 120 degrees before moving on the Step 3.

Step 3:  Using a whisk, stir in 2-3 Tbs. of plain active, live yogurt.

Step 4:  Cover and place Crock in oven.  (I'd used my oven about an hour earlier, so it was still slightly warm but not on.  You could probably heat it to 200 degrees, then turn it off when you put your Crock in to achieve a similar effect.)  Allow it to sit  undisturbed in the oven for 6-8 hours.  (If you're wondering, that's a yellow post-it note pictured on the oven that says "YOGURT!" to remind me that the oven is occupied so that I wouldn't forget and hit preheat for dinner without first removing my yogurt.)
When you remove it, you should have 1/2 gallon of yogurt.  Carefully transfer it to a storage container (I use quart mason jars).  Avoid stirring or otherwise disturbing it too much as movement causes it to break down and re-liquify.

This method will produce a yogurt texture similar to standard yogurt.  If you prefer a Greek yogurt texture, strain it using this method.

There ya go!  You've turned milk and 2 tablespoons of yogurt into 1/2 gallon of yogurt using only your oven and CrockPot!  It's like magic!

So, figuring out a way to make yogurt with store-bought cow's milk turned out not to be as difficult as my mastery of goat milk yogurt.  Still, I did have one botched attempt.  See photo below.

Yep.  This disgusting, curdled mess was the result of my first attempt.  (For the curious, rather than using the oven for Step 4, I tried keeping the Crock in the CrockPot set to "warm."  The problem was that "warm" was about 140 degrees, too warm for yogurt production.)

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