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I made Yogurt!

August 4, 2010

I made homemade yogurt the other day!  The best part is that I made it without using a thermometer, yogurt maker, or special equipment of any kind.  I just used milk, a spoonful of store bought yogurt as the culture, and empty mason jars.  That’s it!

Homemade Yogurt with honey

Don’t worry, I served it up in a baby food jar with a tiny spoon and topped with honey – but then I ate it.  Babies can’t have honey!  And I like to eat out of tiny containers with tiny spoons!

I love plain full fat yogurt.  So does Isaac.  But, it can be kind of expensive.   Actually, it can be cheap but I have expensive yogurt tastes.  I like Brown Cow ($1 for an 8 oz container!) and most brands of Greek yogurt.  I like them to be smooth, creamy, not too artificially thick & gelatinous, and not too tangy.Homemade Yogurt pot

First I spent some time reading yogurt making tutorials.  Most of them are on the fussy side – they have you using a thermometer to measure the temperature of the milk, aging the yogurt in a carefully temperature controlled environment, etc. 

I’m too slap dash for that type of precision, so I decided to try making yogurt without any equipment or measuring or temperature controlling to see how it would turn out.  So here’s what I did:

Took two empty, clean mason jars and filled them with whole milk.  This is how I measured my yogurt quantity – I wanted enough to fill two mason jars.

Homemade Yogurt in Mason jars

Then I dumped the milk from the mason jars into a pot and heated it on the stove until it seemed just below boiling.  It was starting to get foamy around the edges, but there weren’t any bubbles. 

When it reached that point, I took it off the heat and let it cool until it was warm and I could comfortably put my finger in it without getting burned.  The reason you do that is you need to let it cool down to a temperature that is comfortable for the yogurt cultures to live in – you don’t want them to die off when you stir them in!

I used two different types of plain yogurt as my cultures.  Different brands of store bought yogurt use different types of bacteria, mixed up in different proportions – which creates yogurt of varying tastes, textures, tanginess, etc.  I had no idea that was how it worked!  I used Brown Cow, and Fage Greek Yogurt.  You just need to make sure you are using plain yogurt (you don’t want the sugar in your mix – that could throw off the growth of the right kind of bacteria) and you want a brand that has live cultures.  Otherwise nothing will happen.

I plopped two big spoonfuls of each yogurt into a Mason jars.  Brown Cow in one, Fage in the other.  Then I used a 1/2 c. measuring cup to pour some warmed milk into each jar.   I stirred the culture, dissolving it into the milk, and then filled the mason jars with the rest of the milk.

In the meanwhile I’d heated the oven to 170.  Once I had my jars full of cultured milk I turned off the oven, screwed on the lids, and put the jars in the oven.  I shut the door and went to bed for the night.  That’s as close to temperature controlled as we get around here!

Homemade Yogurt pot

The next morning I woke up and there was yogurt in the jars.  I couldn’t believe that it had worked!!  They were both pretty runny and very mild tasting.  Especially the Fage – it was barely tangy at all.  I like that, but the Fage was too bland even for me.  That means the culture hasn’t grown enough, so I left it sitting on the counter until about 5pm. By then it had thickened up and tasted a lot more like real yogurt, so I put it in the fridge.

Homemade Yogurt with honey

After two days in the fridge, both yogurts have thickened up even more and have gotten more tangy.  That means the culture is still growing.  I wonder if it grows slowly in the fridge until it reaches a certain point and then stops?  Or if it grows until it spoils the container of yogurt after only a few days?  I guess I will find out!

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