Making my own yogurt has double the rewards for me. It saves me money AND is extremely satisfying to make. It’s pretty amazing to put hot milk into a container and have it magically turn into a creamy delectable miracle.
There are several methods to culture and make your own yogurt. I have seen it done with ovens, crock pots, electric yogurt makers and even heating pads. I use a Yogotherm, which is probably one of my best investments to date. A Yogotherm is a container that is lined with what appears to be a type of styrofoam. The Yogotherm comes with a plastic tub that holds your milk that fits perfectly inside. I do not have to fidget, or fuss or experiment with times and temperatures. This is my recipe for a creamy thick batch of Greek style yogurt.
You will need a pot large enough to hold 1/2 gallon of milk, a thermometer that reads 180 degrees or warmer, a metal spoon and your Yogotherm. You can purchase your own Yogotherm at amazon.com.
Get your Yogotherm here:Yogotherm Yogurt Maker- 2-QT
1/2 gallon milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt with live cultures. (you can use as little as 2-3 tablespoons)
Note: You can use a store bought container of yogurt, or yogurt from your last batch of homemade
3/4 cup powdered milk (optional – but you will end up with a thinner product if you omit)
Note: You may use as little as 1/2 cup up to 1 full cup of powdered milk. You may adjust according to your desired yogurt outcome. My perfect amount is 3/4 cup.
1. Heat your milk in a large pot on medium heat along with your dry milk. You will want to stir frequently to prevent your milk from burning. Heat the milk to 180 degrees F. Hold the milk at this temperature for about 5 minutes to allow a little more evaporation for thicker yogurt. Don’t worry if you go over 180 degrees F a little. Just move your pot from the burner for a couple seconds to keep the heat steady at 180.
2. Take your milk mixture off the heat and cool down to 110-120 degrees F. Once it is cooled, pour the milk into the plastic tub that fits within your Yogotherm along with 1/2 cup yogurt and mix well. Do not add yogurt to your milk until it has cooled to 110-120 degrees F or you may kill the live cultures. I fill my kitchen sink with cold water and set my pot into the cold water and stir until cooled to desired temperature. I generally cool mine to 120F as I know it will continue to cool a little when I mix in my yogurt.
3. Close the container lid tightly and place into the Yogotherm and let sit 8-12 hours. I have let mine sit up to 24 hours. Just keep in mind, the tangy yogurt flavor gets stronger the longer it sits. I also wrap my Yogotherm in a towel. This is probably overkill and not necessary, but I do it anyway. I feel it keeps my yogurt nice and toasty and at the right temperature for as long as possible.
4. After the incubation period, open the lid and you will discover a container of thick and creamy yogurt. You can use your yogurt just like this, or you can opt for thicker yogurt and strain out some whey. Straining will create a thicker yogurt and is how to get your yogurt to a Greek yogurt consistency.
STRAINING YOUR YOGURT
There are two ways to strain the whey from your yogurt. You can strain your yogurt through a cheese cloth or just pour it off the top of your yogurt before use.
Pour off Method: You can simply not stir your yogurt in the container and as you use the yogurt, scoop down leaving a cavity for the whey to collect (see picture above). The next time you use your yogurt, you will find a yellowish liquid pooled in the space that you just pour off. The yellowish liquid is the whey. Do this each time you use your yogurt. Just make sure there is a cavity and do not stir your yogurt. Once I get down toward the bottom of the contain, I start to stir it in because it is as thick as I like. With this type of straining, the whey collects from the top of the yogurt down into the cavity, which is why you need to continue to make a cavity as you work down so the new depths of yogurt in your container get strained as well. Reminder: You can just stir the whey back into the yogurt for a product that isn’t as thick.
Cheese Cloth Method: Place a colander lined with cheese cloth over a bowl or other container with room under to collect the whey. Gently ladle the yogurt in clumps into the colander, be careful not to stir up the yogurt. Once it is stirred, it will be harder to strain. Allow to strain for 45 minutes. Some people use the collected whey in recipes or give to their pets as a treat. After you have strained out the whey, quickly dump the yogurt back into your container. Don’t go slow or you might end up with a gloppy mess of yogurt stuck to the cheese cloth.
Sweeten your yogurt with jam, honey or your favorite sweetener if desired. Top with your favorite berries or use in your favorite yogurt based dips and recipes. One of our favorite ways to use our homemade Greek yogurt is using half yogurt and half milk in my husbands morning protein shake.
Enjoy! What works for you? Please share your yogurt making experiences here in the comments.