We make a lot of yogurt at our house. The kids love it for breakfast either with fruit, or when we make cold oats. And, we can go through half a gallon or more each day. (Yes, you read that correctly.)
It does take time though, and you have to pay attention to it. Other than that, it’s really not that hard, as long as you use the correct ingredients.
You will need:
- Large pot and heat source (oven or wood stove) and lid
- Slow cooker (with an electrical source for a few minutes)
- Yogurt starter/culture (has to say live active culture if you are buying it)
- Glass measuring cup
- Wood or plastic spoon
- Candy thermometer
- Sink and cold water
- 2 large thick towels that can completely wrap up slow cooker
Have all surfaces cleaned before starting, and get your culture out so it can warm to room temperature. Decide how much you want to make. If you’ve never done it before, I would start with just a little. I have made as little as 4 cups and as much as 12 cups with this particular process.
Measure out either 4, 8, or 12 cups of milk to put in your pan and begin heating it on low/medium or medium heat with the lid off. I heat it really slow and have the best results. You will want to stir often to keep any of it from sticking and burning to the bottom of the pan.
While this is heating, turn your slow cooker to the lowest setting to get warm.
Use your candy thermometer to tell you when your milk is 185 degrees (Fahrenheit). At this point, put the lid on it and place the pot in your sink of cold water. My pot is buoyant, so 1-2 inches of cold water works fine. You’ll want to stir it often until it cools down to 90-110 degrees Fahrenheit (about 10 minutes).
While your milk is cooling, measure out your culture into your glass measuring cup. I use a heaping wood spoonful for each 4 cups of milk.
Once your milk cools to 90-110 degrees, pour some into your measuring cup on top of your culture. Carefully pour the rest into your slow cooker (turn it off), and put the lid on.
Stir your culture and milk in the glass cup until it is dissolved. Once it is dissolved, add it into the slow cooker and stir it around. Put the lid on and wrap it in towels. I use two of the biggest towels on the market to wrap it completely.
At this point, you can place it in a sunny location (which is what I do), or put it in an oven (that is turned off) with the light on. Leave it for 6-10 hours without touching, peaking, or stirring–forget it’s there. These are the instructions passed down to me via verbal tradition in our family.
I actually tend to leave it longer. It seems that I make it during afternoon naps (about 2:00-4:00 p.m.?) and leave it until morning (about 5:00 a.m.). It’s still just fine. In fact, it seems to me the longer I leave it to cool slowly, the firmer it is. No one has ever gotten sick.
Granny also told me that this will last two weeks in the refrigerator. She would make it twice a month. It’s never lasted more than a day or two in our fridge.
When you go to use it, be sure to save enough to be your starter for next time.
There you go! Will you try it? Post a picture to our facebook page and let me know how you liked it!
Random Yogurt Tips
- Homemade yogurt is is not flavored. Mix fruit, jelly or jam in if you don’t like it plain. I haven’t tried sugar in it, but I know it’s hard to mix honey in cold yogurt.
- If you want greek yogurt, wait until it’s ready and then use a coffee filter to let the whey seep out. (Make sure to freeze your whey for later use, or give it to your chickens.)
- You can freeze your yogurt starter. You must let it thaw only in the refrigerator over-night–never heat it to thaw.
- If you are buying your yogurt starter, buy any yogurt that is labeled “live active cultures” only. Not all yogurt is the same.
- If you regularly freeze your milk, you can still use it to make yogurt once it thaws.
- I find this is best stored plain with a lid and mixed with fruit or jelly just before consumption.
- If you don’t have a thermometer, “185 degrees” looks like: when the milk starts to get bubbly and frothy. Don’t let it boil over.
- If you don’t have a thermometer, “90-110 degrees” feels like: when you stick your pinky in and it’s really hot but no longer painful (that’s about 100 degrees). I don’t suggest anyone use this method. We have and it’s painful. It will hurt, but I give you this information just so you have it, not to encourage you to use it.
I hope you’ll try it. Even if you don’t have cows, this is a highly economical way to eat yogurt.