My mom and I used to joke about making yogurt at home. “Here, let me leave my milk out for 5 days in an electric blanket and see what happens, and then eat it” It all just sounded gross. And Cumbersome. And Messy. But I love new things, so I tried it anyway. And it WAS messy, and tedious. I had to keep it in my crockpot…in the oven…wrapped in a blanket…overnight. And the results were, ok and just ok. I even ended up straining it all through a piece of cloth to get it to a thicker, more Greek Yogurt consistency, and THAT was just a pain!
But then I found this great resource on The Frugal Girl, for making homemade yogurt with a MUCH easier method. She has step by step pictures with really great tips! I’ve been using her recipe, modified a bit to suit my needs, for about 2 years now and my family will NEVER go back to store-bought yogurt. I promise you, you won’t either! Not only is it a cost saving measure for us, it’s so much better for you! We moved cross country a year ago, and for convenience sake I bought some little yogurt cups from the store to eat in the car for breakfast. But you know what? None of my kids would eat the yogurt, even my baby! They all spat it out and complained that it tasted weird. I opened mine and started to eat it and almost gagged, it was SO SWEET! It was like eating candy in yogurt form. Nasty. And trust me, we are sugar people! Even my husband, who usually tries out my healthy recipes with trepidation, has been excited about the homemade yogurt from the beginning. At least after I made him a bowl the first time, and he took a bite. He works a 12 hour shift and takes some in a tupperware to eat with some of my homemade granola, or with some frozen berries, or sometimes even a couple spoonfuls of my homemade jam. GOOD STUFF!
So, it does take a little bit of time- but not much. You will invest about 10-15 minutes getting the milk up to temperature, and you will have to wait for the milk to cool…I just put my pot right into my sink (filled with some ice water) and let it sit for about 15 minutes. But I am usually doing something else at the same time, so its not like I’m standing there waiting, ya know?
The yogurt, is awesome. Its about the same texture and consistency as store bought yogurt, and you can add whatever you want. We use it to make smoothies most of the time, and when you add fresh berries (or frozen depending on the season) its so creamy and delicious and the kids can drink it like a go-gurt (but without all the added sugar).
I encourage you to check out The Frugal Girl, for her step by step instructions- since thats where I got the recipe, but I have included the basics below- so you can see just how easy it is! Heat the milk, cool the milk, mix in yogurt, pour in jars, let sit in cooler…place in fridge. Voila!
Here’s what you need.
1 gallon whole milk
1 cup yogurt starter (any plain yogurt will work, but don’t use a store brand- it doesn’t work as well- once you make your first batch you can just save a cup to use with your next batch and so on)
yeah…thats it. No added fillers, No extra sugar, no preservatives!
Simply pour the gallon of milk in a pot and bring it up to 180 degrees, stirring occasionally. You MAY be tempted to turn the heat up high (like I did in the picture) to speed up the process but don’t give into the temptation…you will scorch the milk, just like I did. Keep it at a medium temperature, and take your time! Boil some water to sterilize your jars at the same time.
-The Frugal Girl tells you, that you can skip this step- and you can! But I just feel like since I am growing bacteria in these jars (thats what yogurt is basically) That I just want it to be the GOOD bacteria, and not the bad- so I always sterilize my jars. Plus, you need some hot water for later!
Any kitchen thermometer will work, here’s my old one, which I suspended with my slotted spoon so it didn’t touch the bottom.
Then I bought this awesome one for 5 dollars at an agri-supply store- and it clips on the side. Once your milk has reached 180 degrees, pull it off the stove and set it in your sink with ice water around it. Let it sit until it cools till 120 degrees, this takes me about 10 minutes, which is usually enough time to get my jars ready. Then just whisk in your yogurt starter- I use 1 cup instead of the 1/2 cup suggested, I feel like I get MUCH better results with this amount, and its not tart at all.
Now just pour into your jars and the scrape the foam off the top of the jars. (pour slowly and you will have less foam)
Then put a lid on the jars and set them in a cooler that has 120 degree water in it. I usually just pour the water leftover from sterilizing my jars into the cooler then add water until the temperature has come down to 120Then just close the lid and let your jars sit for 6 hours. (this is a couple of hours longer than she recommends, but I have found the longer time works better, any longer than that and your yogurt starts to get tart. I have let mine sit for 8-12 (by accident) and they were still totally edible- just very tart!
Here what happens when I sit mine on the counter for a few minutes to get a picture…
See- my kids love it!
Let me know how yours turns out!