Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Foolproof Guide to Homemade Yogurt

When I tell people that I make my own yogurt at home, I get a mix of curious, horrified, and perplexed expressions. Yogurt, it seems, is one of those items that we have simply resigned ourselves to buying, no matter how much it is filled with disgusting fillers like gelatin to get that curded texture, carmine (crushed bugs, you're welcome) for color, or loads of sugar for flavor. 

However, it is really not a skill of the Jedi to make it at home. And quite honestly, you don't really need any equipment, save a kitchen thermometer, that you don't already have. Kitchen thermometers are also useful for a bevy of other tasks, so it is a good addition to your kitchen arsenal anyway. This is the one that I use.  This model is a luxury model, but a good one can be found for around $15. 

The other item that you will need is a slow cooker. I've spoken with rapture about my love of this device, and the simplicity it has brought into my life. You'll also need some sort of containers in which to keep the finished product -- I either recycle old yogurt containers or use glass Pyrex.

Another note to keep in mind is that this recipe is that is makes a lot of yogurt. I would suggest halving it if you are only a casual yogurt eater. In my household, it's quite the money saver, with a one-year-old baby consuming yogurt daily, two adult enthusiasts of yogurt, and making a lot of curry requiring yogurt -- well, we go through a lot of the stuff.

So, let's get to it! You will need:

1 gallon of milk (full fat, 2%, and skim will all work; sadly, organic will not, as it is not fresh and far too processed)
3 tbsp of yogurt with active cultures, plain. My preferred brands are Fage and Dannon. They always work for yogurt making.

Plug in the slowcooker, and pour in the milk. Turn it to high, and allow it to heat the milk to 180 degrees. It is imperative to heat the milk to this temperature to kill any bacteria. We want to make sure that this milk has the right bacteria to turn into yogurt.

It will take a couple of hours to get the milk to the proper temperature, depending on your slow cooker. However, it is best to nanny it a bit and check the temperature often using the thermometer to ensure that you don't scald the milk.

Once the milk is 180 degrees, turn off the heat, unplug the machine, and allow the milk to cool to 110 degrees. 110 degrees is the perfect temperature at which to inoculate milk. The milk cools off much more quickly than it heated, so again, be mindful with your thermometer.

Once the milk has cooled to 110, scoop out 1 cup of milk, and add the yogurt, stirring it into the hot milk. Combine the cup of mixed milk with the remainder of the pot, swishing the mixture gently.

Place the lid on the slow cooker. Lift the insert containing the treated milk from the slow cooker, and place it into the oven. Trust me. Cover with kitchen towels, and leave overnight, preferably 12 hours. Take out the insert, and you have a slow cooker full of yogurt!

The yogurt will be plain, so it is perfect for curry and additions. Add jam, granola, sugar, honey, maple syrup, spices, it's a blank canvas. If you prefer Greek-style yogurt, strain it through a cheesecloth or a strainer to pull out the excess liquid. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Reserve some of the yogurt from your batch to serve as starter for next time. It's a vicious cycle. 
November 18, 2015 / by / 2 Comments


Two Foodies One Journey said...

Since when is organic not fresh and far too processed ? Organic (preferably full fat) is actually the best for joghurt. What doesn't work (organic or non-organic) is ultrapasteurized milk.

San Diego Dining Dish said...

Hi there, thank you for your comment. Most United States brands of organic milk is ultra-pasteurized.

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