Archive for August 21, 2010

Yogurt making tutorial

Posted in Uncategorized on August 21, 2010 by xxxicana

Gentle readers, I thought I would post photos and directions from my last yogurt making session. I started making my own because I eat a lot of yogurt. I found that after a while, I was schlepping too many plastic yogurt tubs to the recycling center. As many know, just cuz we drop stuff off at the recycle center doesn’t mean that all that trash really becomes some other product. In the Reduce, Recycle, Reuse system, one should reduce first. So, that’s why I started making yogurt. It supersuper easy to do! Plus, you will find that your yogurt is very tasty and satisfying made by your own hand.

Below are instructions for making two quarts of yogurt.

First things first. Assemble your ingredients and utensils.


2 quarts of milk (that’s 8 cups)
1/4 cup yogurt for starter (I used an entire 6 oz container of Dannon plain).
1/3 cup powdered non-fat milk (optional, but recommended)

2+ quart sized pot
large stock pot
wire whisk
2 glass quart canning jars with lids and rings.
Heating pad
Bath towel

Directions (with lots of side comments!)

When making yogurt, the most important component is the starter. The starter must be yogurt with live active culture. For this batch I purchased a 6 oz. container of Dannon. You will be able to use your homemade yogurt as starter for up to 5 or 6 batches. But, the culture weakens over time, so it is necessary to purchase a fresh container of yogurt.

Powdered milk: this is actually great stuff to have on hand. I don’t care for drinking the stuff, but it comes in handy for cooking. This box of PM cost a little over $6.00. I reconstitute it for cooking since it is non-fat and cheap. For yogurt making, adding 1/3 cup of PM results in a thicker final product. It can be omitted.

Milk: I use 1% milk to make a low-fat yogurt.

Utensil prep
It is always important to the cleanest possible conditions when making yogurt or canning.
First, place a kitchen towel in the stock pot, then add about 4 cups of water. Place the jars, jar rings, and wire whisk in the pot. Heat the water to boiling and let everything boil for about 5 minutes to sterilize.

A note about containers: some people re-use plastic yogurt tubs, which in theory seems good. However, I am concerned that heating the tubs to sterilize will contaminate the yogurt with toxic chemicals. I use wide mouth “mason” jars. If you want only two jars, look for used jars at thrift shops or garage sales. New jars are not terribly expensive and are useful for other canning projects or to store stuff in the fridge, freezer, or shelves. If you have hard water, you will notice that a white film will cling to the jars. This doesn’t compromise the food. To get rid of the film, soak jars in a vinegar/water solution.

Heat milk: Sterilize your milk pot by boiling a small about of water for 5 minutes. Dump the water out; let cool for a bit. Pour in the 2 quarts of milk and heat on medium until it reaches 185 degrees (F). I use a candy thermometer. Use the wire whisk to stir frequently to avoid scalding the bottom. Heat until the milk reaches 185 degrees. Remove from heat.

Cool the milk: Some people allow the milk to cool on its own. I’m too impatient, so I give the milk a cold water bath. Put the milk pot in the sink and fill it with cold water. Stirring the milk will help cool the milk faster. The milk needs to cool to 110 degrees. The milk can’t be too cold or too hot — otherwise the culture will either be killed (too hot) or not grow (too cold). BTW, I use the cold water for washing up afterward.

Remove milk from cold water bath. Whisk in the powdered milk and mix well to dissolve. Next, add the culture; again whisk well to distribute throughout the milk.

Fill the jars: Pour the prepared milk into the sterilized jars, pop the lids on and screw the rings on. Now it’s time to let your milk turn into yogurt. The process requires that the milk be left undisturbed for around 8 hours in a warm environment. I find that the heating pad method is the easiest.

At least by the time one is middle aged, a heating pad becomes a member of the household. There’s nothing like a heating pad for a sore back after too much gardening or other injury or aches/pains of getting on in years. I remember my mom’s heating pad — it is older than the hills! Unfortunately, they don’t make them like they used to. Today, heating pads have a safety feature: an auto off switch. I guess this is good so that one doesn’t accidentally cause a fire. But it makes yogurt making a little more complicated. Since the yogurt needs a constant warm environment, you have to make sure that your heating pad stays on. So, depending on your pad, you have to “reboot” every so often. Or you can try to find a “vintage” heating pad that doesn’t have this safety feature.

After placing the jars on the heating pad, invert the stock pot (emptied of contents and water) over the jars.

This helps retain the heat. Additionally, cover the whole thing with a bath towel to keep out drafts and retain heat.

Set the heating pad to medium. Now, LEAVE IT ALONE!! Resist the temptation to check under the pot for at least 8 hours. Moving the jars can disrupt the coagulation process leaving a runny yogurt. I usually leave the jars to culture for 10 hours as this results in a more tangy yogurt. Once the yogurt has set the jars can go into the fridge over night. The cooling process will develop the flavor further. In the morning you will open your jars to find a beautiful white substance that tastes wonderful!

Above is a photo of my morning breakfast. This is a great way to use your homemade yogurt and get a hefty dose of fiber. I can’t stand hot oatmeal so I eat it cold.

Recipe: 1/2 cup quick oats
2 TB flax meal
1 TB sugar
1/2 cup yogurt
Fruit of choice (a diced Missouri peach is shown)

Mix everything together and let sit for a couple of minutes to soften up the oats. Enjoy!

Well, hope this tutorial is helpful. The process of making yogurt is really easy and quick — well worth the effort. Not only will you savor something made by your own hands, you will save money (ingredients cost around $3.00 compared to >$6.00 for two tubs of yogurt), and you will reduce your plastic consumption.