Yogurt and I, we go a long way back. Growing up my relationship with Yoplait is one I’d rather forget. I liked yogurt, but I know now there were few benefits from eating yogurt full of sugar and additives.
In high school my tastes for yogurt changed to a more basic flavor (so I thought) in good old vanilla. Still chock full of sugar and whatever else they want to put in there, however my interest in organic food began to bud.
By the time I was in college (and depending upon my budget), I was purchasing organic yogurt AND had made the switch to whole fat plain.
Thank goodness for my Helpful People who began steering me in the right direction.
It wasn’t until about 8 years ago that I began to play with making yogurt. At first I was scared and then quickly realized that lots of people do this and when I started playing with it I found I could come up with all kinds of results. Sometimes it ended up being sour cream or cream cheese and sometimes it actually ended up being yogurt.
I even went so far as to purchase a yogurt maker, which ended up at GoodWill after about a year of those shenanigans.
There have been freeze dried cultures involved and lots of heating and cooling, but still no consistency to the end product….until I simplified things and nailed it. I knew I could make this work better than it was, and I had the raw milk source from our farmer that is superb, and together it made for a fantastic batch of yogurt that I recreate easily over and over again.
1/2 gallon raw milk
1/4 cup of yogurt from a previous batch (if I don’t happen to have any made or forget to set aside a scoopful, I use whole fat plain yogurt to start)
I heat the milk to about 180 degrees, though I have found with my stovetop that 180 degrees is almost too much, so I use the guideline from my friend Erin, who says, “If you can’t hold your finger in it for 10 seconds, it’s ready”. You see, we are very scientific around here.
Then to cool it, I remove it from the hot cooktop and place it on a cool burner on the cooktop. When I used freeze dried cultures, the temperature and timing never added up to a complete product I was satisfied with, so I began to play with this a bit. I know those cultures said to cool it to 112-120, but I actually found that around 130 degrees works well in my kitchen.
Enter my friend Erin, “To see if it’s cool enough you can use a thermometer or if you can hold your finger in for 10 seconds you know it’s ready.”
I use a pasta spoon to skim the scalded milk layer off the top and whisk the 1/4 cup yogurt into the heated and cooled milk.
Then I pour into two quart sized Mason jars, cover, and here is what I found to be the best.
(I knew my microwave would come in handy one day)…I stick the jars in the microwave and throw a bath towel around them to help hold in the heat for incubating the yogurt and walk away for about 9 hours.
Here’s what’s funny, though. I almost always forget about it…like for 9 hours or 12 hours or even a little longer. Every.Single.Time, however, there is a thick and rich coat of cream at the top and a nice thick yogurt underneath.
So, we eat it straight out of the jar, add it to smoothies, stir in a little honey, serve it over frozen berries and love it in just about any way we can get it.
I hope that you will enjoy it too!