How to Make Homemade Yogurt

Yogurt is readily available at almost any grocery store. Yet there are advantages to making homemade yogurt. When done in the kitchen, yogurt can be made to precise specifications and standards tailored to the specific family. It is also interesting as a kitchen experiment. Yogurt is very easy to make at home. Specialized equipment and cultures are available, but not absolutely necessary. Yogurt can be made with utensils most people already possess. There are actually several different methods for making yogurt. The most consistent methods utilize the oven or the crock pot.

To make yogurt in the oven the following equipment is required: a double-boiler or saucepan, a cooking thermometer, a large mixing spoon, a glass storage container such as jelly jars with lids, and a deep oven-proof pan. Required ingredients: one quart of pasteurized whole milk, 1/3 cup non-fat dry milk powder, and cup plain cultured yogurt. The yogurt must contain live cultures of Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, though if it also contains other live cultures in addition to these it can also be used. Raw, non-pasteurized milk can be used as long as it is home pasteurized first by heating in a double-boiler to 165° Fahrenheit (74° Celsius) and cooled quickly in a water bath.

First add one quart of pasteurized whole milk to a double boiler or saucepan. If using a saucepan be careful not to overheat. Add the chilled milk and powdered milk to the double-boiler or saucepan and bring it slowly to 200° Fahrenheit (93° Celsius), but do not boil or scorch the milk. For a thin yogurt maintain a heat of 200° while stirring gently for 10 minutes. For a thick yogurt, increase this time to 20 minutes. Place the top part of the double-boiler (or the bottom of the saucepan) in cold water until the mixture has cooled to 115° Fahrenheit (46° Celsius). Next, remove 1 cup of the milk and mix it with the plain yogurt. Add this mixture back to the warm milk and mix thoroughly. Place the mixture into clean glass containers, cover, and place in a preheated oven-proof pan filled part way with warm water. The water should be 110° Fahrenheit (43° Celsius) and reach at least halfway up the height of the containers. Close the oven and maintain a heat of 110° for 4 to 7 hours. The yogurt is done when it is firm and set. Once set, remove the containers from the pan and place them immediately in the refrigerator. If the yogurt is kept below 40 degrees it remain fresh for 10 to 20 days.

For a recipe with even less hassle, a crock pot can be used. For this recipe the equipment needed is: a crock pot, a large mixing spoon, and containers for storage. The ingredients needed are gallon of whole pasteurized milk and cup of plain cultured yogurt. First pour the chilled gallon of milk into the crock pot and heat on low for 2 and hours. After this time has passed, unplug or turn off the crock pot and allow it to sit undisturbed for 3 hours. Next, remove a cup of the milk from the crock pot and mix it thoroughly with the cup of plain yogurt. Once mixed, add the milk and yogurt back to the crock pot and stir until the entirety is thoroughly mixed. Wrap the entire crock pot in a thick towel to retain heat and leave it 8 to 12 hours or overnight. After this time has elapsed the yogurt should be thick and creamy. Remove it from the crock pot and place it in clean containers and refrigerate at least 8 hours before eating.

There are other methods for making yogurt at home, including methods that do not require heat, but they are not as consistent. Perhaps the easiest way to make yogurt at home is to use one of the yogurt makers available.

<< The Health Benefits of Yogurt | Varieties of Yogurt >>

Resources:

National Center for Home Food Preservation: Fermenting Yogurt at Home
Nourishing Days: Make Yogurt in Your Crock Pot

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