Homemade Yogurt

Growing up, my parents frequently made yogurt from scratch...cultured in handmade porcelain cups... and served with homemade preserves.

Not going to happen for my kids. For one thing, my family can go through a full quart of yogurt in one breakfast. As for the lovely porcelain cups. Nope. Mason jars with screw on lids for my crew. Homemade preserves? Maybe someday.

But why make yogurt from scratch? Oh, so many reasons.

  1. It's cheaper. I gallon of milk makes 1 gallon of yogurt (actually a little more).
  1. You can control the sugar. I'm pro adding a nice helping of honey (but never for babies), but not so convinced that my kids need more high fructose corn syrup.
  1. It's a really entertaining science project. Who knew bacteria could do so many good things?
  1. It's alive. All those live yogurt cultures are, well, alive.
  1. It tastes amazing. Maybe that one should be first on the list.

The thing I like about this recipe is that you probably have all the equipment you need:

mason jars with lids

instant read thermometer

large heavy bottomed pot

insulated cooler

And the ingredients are simple:

1 gallon whole milk

1 cup plain yogurt as starter

You can make yogurt with lower fat milk, but this is a nice place to splurge. If you do use lower fat milk, you will need to a some powdered milk to act as a thickener. As for sweeteners, I keep it plain and let the kids add it later, along with nuts, or granola, or fresh fruit. For babies, try it plain. They might like it just fine that way. Mine did.

Here is the recipe:

  • Wash jars and lids in dishwasher to sterilize.
  • Pour 1 gallon of milk in heavy bottomed pan. Heat on low until temperature reachers 190 degrees. check temperature frequently and stir gently. You will want to make sure the milk does not scorch the bottom. 
  • Remove the pot from the heat and place it in a cold water bath in the sink. Monitor temperature until it goes down to 120 degrees. 
  • Add the plain yogurt. The bacteria from the yogurt needs to be spread throughout the milk, so stir until blended.
  • Pour mixture into jars. Screw on lids. Place jars in cooler. 
  • Heat 1 gallon of water to 120 degrees and pour the water into the cooler around the jars.
  • Close the cooler lid and leave undisturbed for 4-6 hours 6-8 hours. The temperature in the cooler needs to remain warm the entire time.
  • After 6 hours, check the firmness of the yogurt. A little sloshy is okay, but I prefer mine to be fairly thick. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Place it in the refrigerator when you are satisfied with the thickness.
  • The next morning you can have a taste test. As the yogurt ages, the taste becomes more tangy and the texture more firm. Yogurt will keep for up to one month. Remember to save a cup of yogurt for the next batch!

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For more yogurt info, check out one of my favorite blogs, Frugal Girl. She make yogurt weekly and has more detailed instuctions.

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