If you saw our Sh*t Girls Say About Money video last week (and if you didn't, you should!), you may remember a series of scenes in which one girl boasts of her frugality by proclaiming how she DIYs everything, including her yogurt.
That was the team's way of poking fun at me, because I have been making my own yogurt for years. I love it. It tastes so much better, you can make it as sweet (or not) as you like, and, while I haven't actually done the math, I think it's money-saving.
Plus, it's "whey" fun. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) The first time I showed my mom how to make yogurt, she whispered, as we tiptoed up to the oven the next morning to see how the yogurt turned out, "It feels like Christmas morning."
Now, when was the last time you heard a 60-something woman express such excitement over cooking?
Recipe: Homemade Yogurt
I'll be honest. This recipe creates an enormous amount of yogurt. It will last me two weeks, and sometimes longer. If you don't want such a huge deluge of probiotics in your life, adapt the amounts to your needs.
Also, the following recipe is what works for me and my own oven. Often, it takes a period of trial and error to find out what works for you, whether it's letting your yogurt culture on a heating pad, on a radiator or something else entirely. So, you may want to try the following recipe out with smaller amounts before you go all in. (If it doesn't work for you, look for alternate ways to culture your yogurt including the previously mentioned methods.)
Ingredients and Supplies
One gallon of milk (I normally use 1% or 2%)
An 8 oz. container of yogurt (I normally use full fat or low fat)
A candy thermometer
A large pot
A large glass or ceramic punch bowl
Sweetener such as maple syrup, honey or agave
First things first: Make sure that every item you use while making the yogurt is completely clean. This means newly rinsing and wiping down the already-washed pot, the punch bowl and the thermometer. Same goes for any utensils you'll be using. Additionally, make sure to hit the two temperatures I mention below. Aside from contaminating the milk, there are two other ways to ruin your yogurt: to let the milk get too hot or to let it get too cold.
To begin: Pour the gallon of milk into the large pot with the candy thermometer dipping into the milk. Turn the burner on high. Monitor the temperature as the milk heats up. No matter what you do, do not let the milk boil or get any hotter than 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
As soon as the thermometer reads 180 or is just shy of that, turn the burner off. Let the milk cool to about 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Since it normally takes a while for the milk to reach that temperature, I put the pot in the sink and fill the sink with cold water. Make sure not to let any water splash into the pot. I then stir the milk around to release more heat.
The milk becomes cultured: When the milk reaches 115 degrees or just below, pour it into the large punch bowl. Watch the thermometer so the temperature doesn't go any lower than 110 at the very most. If it gets below this, your yogurt may be lost. On the other hand, if it's too hot when you introduce the starter, you'll kill the cultures in your starter, and your yogurt won't turn out.
From there, spoon the yogurt that is serving as your starter culture, into the bowl. (If you really get into making your own yogurt, you can always use your last batch as your starter culture.) Stir it around so it's not in large clumps in the milk, but distributed throughout.
Then, put the bowl in your oven on warm and leave for eight hours. I normally leave it over night, but use whatever schedule works best for you. (Side note: I don't cover the yogurt, so cream does rise to the top, and the yogurt on the very edges of the bowl does form a slight crust. However, when I spoon it out into containers, I just avoid those bits.)
Ta-da! The next morning (or when your eight hours are up), turn the oven off and take out your yogurt. You'll see the yogurt mixed in with yellow water, which is called whey. Ladle as much whey out as possible. Then scoop the yogurt into storage containers and put in the refrigerator for several hours to chill.
After it's fully chilled, sweeten lightly with maple syrup, honey or agave and enjoy the curds of your labor!
image credit: cherrylet/Flickr
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