As I had anticipated, making my own yogurt was a fun experience. After posting a video on home yogurt making the other day I thought, “Self, you could do this!”
WHAT WAS NEEDED
- 1/2 gallon whole milk
- 1/4 cup yogurt with live active cultures
- Pot, thermometer, bowl, blanket/towels/insulated jackets, Saran Wrap
I love yogurt but I dislike the amount of extras many companies put in their pre-packaged containers. Sure, flavors are great but it is so difficult to find quality plain or vanilla yogurt these days! Most brands are overly sweet and filled with unpronounceable ingredients. Even making this recipe would truly be an experiment because I could only find flavored varieties of yogurt to use as a starter.
I finally settled on a lemon meringue flavor with live active cultures. I felt that it wouldn’t skew the flavor profile too much considering it would be diffused throughout an entire half-gallon of whole milk. The fact that it was Greek yogurt also had me wondering if the process would work as intended. Eventually, I’d like to find a starter without the “genetic engineering” additiion on the label.
Eager to start my yogurt making adventure, I heated my milk to boiling on my cooktop. Once the temperature was reached, the pot was removed from the stove. The hot milk was transferred to a large bowl to let cool down to 120 degrees F. Realizing I didn’t have a proper thermometer forced me to get creative. By utilizing my oven probe I was able to track the temperature down to my target of 120 degrees. Anything higher than this would surely kill the cultures in my starter.
I had previously decided to use the “Blanket Method” to create my yogurt. Basically, you wrap the bowl in insulative materials to retain heat so the cultures can multiply. One can also choose to do the oven method if your appliance allows you to maintain a temperature at or below 120 degrees.
While waiting for the milk to cool I gathered some of my husband’s fleece jackets to help keep my yogurt mix warm. Once the milk had cooled to the proper temp I added the purchased yogurt starter.
After covering the bowl and wrapping it snug as a bug in a rug, there was nothing to do but wait. During this stage, you can’t mix or jostle your yogurt-to-be around. My sign got the point across and kept a curious husband from snooping.
Once the 6 hours had lapsed, I approached the unveiling in optimistic caution. Slowly pulling back the fleece jackets and the silicone bowl cover I was amazed with what I found. I had successfully made my first batch of yogurt!
In the photos below you can see the yogurt was thick enough to allow my spoon to stand up. Some of the whey had separated out but that is not unusual for even store bought yogurt. Scooping some of the creamy goodness up with my spoon I was ecstatic!
With time to chill in the fridge, this yogurt was ready to taste. Even though my starter was Lemon Meringue flavored there was very little lingering taste from it. The results were heavenly, smooth, plain yogurt.
Basic, plain yogurt can be easily transformed into something sweet or savory. The addition of fruit is a popular choice but imagine how great yogurt could be in place of sour cream. Dips, cucumber garlic sauce or even as a sandwich spread, yogurt is very versatile.
Future batches will be simple to reproduce and should prove to be very cost effective. Starter cultures can be taken from this initial batch of yogurt and used over and over again. All that is needed is whole milk!