Michelle has said before in this blog and elsewhere that growing things makes her feel good. One of the ways she stretches our food dollar is to make yogurt at home, using live cultures.
We use yogurt in place of milk for most things. Not only is it better for us, it keeps better than milk, which is very important, since we have no refrigerator. We used to buy yogurt, but it’s too expensive. We figured out that it’s far cheaper to buy milk and make it into yogurt. This is especially cost effective if we manage to buy milk just after the weekly barge arrives, when the older gallons go on sale, sometimes for half off.
Below, Michelle describes her process:
- Whole, 2% or Skim Milk
- Yogurt with live cultures
- Jars and Lids
- Large soup pot (for heating water)
Ratio: 4T Yogurt to 1 quart Milk
- Gather enough glass jars and lids to hold the amount of milk you have. Plastic will work if it is dishwasher safe, but may give off flavors. Heat a large amount of water to boiling then take off heat. Pour a little water in each jar to keep warm until yogurt culture is ready.
- Heat milk to 180°, stirring constantly.
- Take off heat and cool to about 125°. Set whole pan in sink with cold water to speed this up. The milk will cool a little while you work. This is OK as long as it is 70° or more.
- Meanwhile remove 1/4 cup milk and add 4T yogurt per quart of milk. This will warm the yogurt closer to the temperature of the milk.
- Stir warmed yogurt into cooled milk and pour into emptied warm jars, top with lids and place in cooler.
- Pour warm water from kettle (125° or so) in around the jars, but not over tops. Cover and place out of the way for 4 to 8 hours. (If your cooler is not water tight, use a hot water bottle and fill any extra space around jars with a towel.)
- Press back of a spoon to the surface to see if the yogurt is set. Cool in refrigerator right away. (We put ours in the root cellar, or on the front porch if the weather’s cool enough.)
Yogurt can be cultured at any temperature between 70° and 120°, but it takes longer to thicken at the lower temperatures and may have a sour flavor. Cooling it quickly develops less acid so it keeps better.
I use whole milk when I can, but 2% works okay. Powdered milk tends to make it an odd texture, but canned milk can make it richer. I use a candy thermometer and usually make 1/2 gallon at a time, but you can use any amount with the above ratio.