I got a yogurt maker a while ago. The only problem with having a yogurt maker is now Mike wants homemade yogurt all the time. I thought that might be a problem before I got it. Sometimes I don’t remember to make it, and then he is disappointed. He says the homemade yogurt tastes fresher than store bought. I like it better, too, but I don’t eat nearly as much yogurt as he does.
Making homemade yogurt is pretty easy. Like bread baking, it takes a while to make, but most of the time is just waiting for it to ferment. There is not a lot of work involved.
First you measure out 42 oz of whole milk. We use organic. You do need a thermometer because you need to heat it up to 180 degrees.
Once it reached 180, it usually has a visible skin (which I discard), and some bubbles on the edges. Then you turn off the heat and wait for it to cool down. You can hurry this step along with an ice bath but I usually don’t bother.
You want it to be between 110 and 120 degrees, which is good for cultivating your active culture.
In the meantime, you measure out 6 oz of starter yogurt. I once saw David Cross do a stand-up routine in which he made fun of his mom for saying she was making yogurt from scratch but that she had to start with yogurt. I felt bad for his mom, because it is true! You don’t so much make yogurt from scratch as multiply the yogurt you already have. We use Stonyfield Organic Whole Milk yogurt for this step. You can also buy powdered yogurt culture to use as a starter, but we haven’t tried that. I am concerned that it won’t turn out as good.
When your milk is the right temperature, you take half a cup or so and whisk it into the starter yogurt to temper it.
Then you can add the rest of the milk and whisk it all together.
My yogurt maker has individual 6 oz jars. You can also make it on big container if you have one that will fit under its lid. I have read plenty of ways people have made yogurt without an official yogurt maker, too, either using the stove or a crockpot. But I have only done it this way.
After you fill your little jars, make sure the wipe them off. Otherwise there will also be yogurt on the outside of your jars, where you probably don’t want it.
The time needed in the yogurt maker is pretty forgiving. I think we have done various times between 8 and 10 hours and it has all worked out fine. You can even leave the yogurt in the maker after the cycle ends for a few hours, and it will be ok.
Once you have solid yogurt, you can pop the lids on and refrigerate. We usually make ours plain and unsweetened, but Mike adds different things before eating it: sugar, honey, vanilla, fruit. All of these work well. I haven’t tried adding sweetener to the milk before putting it in the maker. I think it can be done, but I am not sure how to do it.