Linda at Greenhorn Wisdom recently posted about making yogurt and her post made it sound so simple that I gave up on my procrastinating and finally created my own batch of the creamy goodness. Now that I’ve made one batch, I am happy to proclaim that yogurt is unbelievably easy to make within a single day and without any special ingredients or tools. I’m ashamed I haven’t been doing this for years.
Linda’s post gives a very good step-by-step process with some Q&A at the bottom so I’d recommend going there for the details. Here’s my yogurt recipe based on Linda’s.
For every cup of milk, you’ll need one Tablespoon of yogurt (your favourite store-bought brand or your last homemade batch). That’s all the ingredients you’ll need: milk and yogurt. And yes, UHT or Long Life milk works. I’ve read you can even skip the step of boiling the milk since this type of milk is already super heated before packaging. I chose not to skip that step but one day I may just give it a go. Could it be any easier?
1) Gently boil 1 cup of milk, stirring regularly to avoid scalding, until it reaches 85 C. (If you don’t have a thermometer, rumour has it that this is the temp at which milk froths. I’m not sure it’s all that important – after all, yogurt was being made before cooking thermometers were.)
2) Take milk off the heat and let cool to 38-49 C. (Your body is 37 C so if you don’t have a thermometer, this is just nice, warm water – like bath water. Again, it’s not that critical, just don’t make it too hot or you’ll kill the bacteria. Too cool means the process slows a little.)
3) Add 1 Tablespoon of yogurt to the warm milk and stir through well (mix around that good yogurt culture).
4) Pour into a jar and stand jar in warm water (38-49 C) filled in an esky up to the neck of the jar. Or just put the jar somewhere warm (and wrap it in a towel).
5) Wait 6-12 hours (the longer it steeps, the sourer it gets). Depending on how cold your house is and how good your esky is you might need to take out cool water and add warm water through the day to keep the temp in the right range.
That’s it. In 1 day you have magically converted 1 tablespoon of yogurt into 1 cup of yogurt.
I used Long Life Milk (we don’t drink milk so that’s what we keep around the house) which cost 99 cents for the litre. I used Greek Style Natural Yogurt which cost $4.69 for the kilo (roughly equivalent to a litre of milk). This means I’m getting yogurt for about 1/4 the cost this way. Plus (the real advantage for me) it is another item that I can make from raw ingredients rather than buying finished and no packaging is involved. Now all I need is a nice dairy cow in my back garden and I’m all set 🙂
The finished product (mine sat for about 11 hours) isn’t as sour or as thick and creamy as the store-bought, but it’s really good. Even Frank said so. Next time I might try adding milk powder before boiling the water, that is supposed to make it creamier, but it’s perfectly edible as is. And I’ll be brave enough to make a bigger batch. I’m thinking 3 cups is a good size for my needs.
Update 30 November 2012: A few weeks ago I was given an EasyYo yogurt maker (freecycle.org – fantastic community of givers). This makes the whole process super simple. I boil up my milk until it foams (generally about 3/4 litre). Then I set the pan in cold water in the sink. I avoid stirring because I don’t want the stuff that sticks to the bottom to end up in my yogurt. I’m sure I could master avoiding getting milk stuck with double boilers or whatever, but very little gets lost in the process and it doesn’t affect the taste so I’m taking the easy way and just not stirring.
In a few minutes, when the milk is body temperature, I add a couple of heaped tablespoons of yogurt to the warm liquid and stir. I pour the milk mixture into the plastic container in the yogurt maker. I pour boiling water into the yogurt maker and close the lid. 6 hours later my yogurt is perfect. It’s the perfect amount of sour for my taste and it is firm (it definitely firms up even more in the fridge).
The yogurt maker is essentially an oversized Thermos but because it is so insulated, the water doesn’t need changing like it did in the large Esky. I make at least a batch a week and I need about 15 minutes to make it then I need to be home 6 hours later to take my yogurt out of the container and put it in the fridge. Nothing could be easier.
Again, thanks to Linda for inspiring me to finally try this. I’m never going back to store-bought yogurt.