How do you make yogurt?


Yogurt and Granola

Homemade yogurt with Healing Home Foods Honey Citrus Granola.

Those of you who didn’t ask me this question are wondering why the hell would I make my own yogurt.  Here is why.

You’ll need

  • whole milk  – preferably: organic, from pastured cows, low-heat pasteurized or raw, not homogenized
  • yogurt starter (I use this one to be compliant with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet) – I believe this starter can also be used for coconut milk yogurt and nut milk yogurt!  Check it out!
  • some jars with lids (I use 5 old 16 oz almond butter jars with lids)
  • a dehydrator (or some way you can keep the yogurt around 100°F for 24 -30 hours)
  • a food thermometer (I use an Oxo Digital Instant Read Thermometer)
  • a ladle (or some way to pour the yogurt into the jars)
  • a pot and stove to heat up the milk (make sure it’s big enough for all the milk, with room left over)
  • a large bowl in which the milk can cool (make sure it’s big enough to fit all the milk you are using!)
  • a slightly larger bowl with ice in it that the bowl above can sit in to cool faster (optional, but really helpful)
  • ice (two ice cube trays full or 40-50 cubes is usually good)
  • 1/4 tsp measuring spoon
  • a whisk to stir in the yogurt starter after the milk is cooled
milk

I always use Grazin’ Angus milk. They’re at the Union Square Farmers Market on Saturdays.

Heat the milk over medium heat until it is 180°F.  Do not let it boil or get hotter than that, because it will very likely boil over the top of the pot and make a huge mess all over your stove.

Heat the Milk

Heat the Milk to 180°F.

While the milk is heating up over medium heat on your stove, sterilize your jars, lids, ladle, milk-cooling bowl, measuring spoon and whisk.  You can do this by dipping them in hot water (= or > 180°F), or steaming them for 3-4 minutes.  [Since the cooling bowl will be big, you might want to just put it in the sink and pour in the sterilizing water and empty it after a few minutes.]

When the milk gets past 175 or so, shut off the stove.  It will go up a few degrees by itself (plus, you don’t want to take the chance it will boil over!).  Get your cooling area ready (preferably in the sink so you can catch spills – as long as nothing will splash in and contaminate your yogurt).  Put the largest bowl in first, with the ice in it, then put the cooling bowl on top of that.  Pour the milk into the cooling bowl.

Cool milk in an ice bath.

Place ice and water in the bottom bowl and sit the “cooling bowl” in that. Pour your hot milk in this cooling bowl. Cover is optional.

When the milk gets down to around 100°F, get out your yogurt starter (it is supposed to be kept in the fridge) and put in the required amount and whisk it through.  For the type of starter I use, and the amount of milk I work with (half gallon), it’s only an 1/8th of a teaspoon!

Tiny amount of starter

Seriously, you don’t need a lot of starter. Read directions carefully!  And make sure that milk is not more than 105°F or you will kill your starter!

Fill your jars with the milk/starter and put the lids on.  Put them in the dehydrator or whatever appliance you have that will maintain the 100°F heat, and let them sit, undisturbed for 24-30 hours.  You want the yogurt to ferment for that length of time so the bacteria eats almost all of the lactose in the milk.

Yogurt

Covered yogurt jars in the dehydrator. 24-30 hours. 100°F.

At the end of the 24-30 hours, take out your yogurt gently (bacteria don’t like to be disturbed), and place it in the fridge.  The delicious fat layer will be on the top.  Mix it in if you want it more homogenous.  The yogurt will be fresh for about 10 – 14 days.  Enjoy!

yogurt

Here’s a spoonful of freshly made yogurt. The rich layer of fat on the top can be mixed in or removed, based on your preference. The fat should be nice and yellow if the milk comes from a pasture-raised cow.

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3 Responses to How do you make yogurt?

  1. aimzilla says:

    Hey Alison, this is fascinating. I had no idea yogurt was so easy! Can you tell me more about your dehydrator? Because that seems pretty key. I wouldn’t really want to leave my oven on for 24-30 hours!

  2. Alison Syntk says:

    I have an Excalibur 4-tray dehydrator (http://www.excaliburdehydrator.com/dehydrators/4-tray) which is just big enough (barely – you kind of have to force it a tiny bit) to fit the 16 oz almond butter jars I use. I’ve had it for years and think it’s okay. If you’re not going to use it for anything else except this, I would not recommend getting one. You can probably make something that will keep at 100°F (such as a light bulb in a cooler or something like that, or test your oven temp with the oven off, but the light on). Or, doesn’t your summer temp often go to 100°F at your house? I don’t think it would be a big deal if it varies between 105 and 95 or so, if you have some hot nights (as long as it’s not in the sun or anything). The jars are covered. If you are going to get a dehydrator, and have the room, I would recommend a larger one than the four tray, because making raw food is such a pain in the ass, you want to be able to make A LOT of it at once! I hope this answers your question.

    • aimzilla says:

      My question is answered! And I can surely do this in my garage in the summer (hopefully it doesn’t get too hot–I can experiment). If I become a serious yogurt-maker I can explore wintertime heating options come fall. Thank you!

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