Thursday, January 5, 2012

Homemade Yogurt

This past Christmas, my ever-so-smart husband got me an Excalibur Dehydrator as my gift.  After 20 years, he has learned that I am really happy with gifts that help around the house...and especially the kitchen...and to ask before he makes a purchase.  (As a matter of fact, I would love a new food processor.  Would love to hear which make/model you have and if you'd purchase it again!)

Back to the has been such a fabulous tool and I'm looking forward to sharing more of the things I've used it for, easy dehydrated hash browns just being one.

Anyway, when I got my dehydrator, one of the recipes in my hand-dandy owner's manual that intrigued me was the yogurt recipe.  We've spent a small fortune purchasing yogurt in the past.  But what I liked least was they either contained quite a bit of sugar or artificial sweetener, which is even worse, and in some yogurts the quality (or presence) of the fruit was questionable.  I wanted to know what was really in the yogurt we were eating.  So keep reading for the recipe and information about how to make your own yogurt if you don't have a dehydrator.

This recipe makes a European-style yogurt that is thinner in consistency than a custard-style yogurt.  To achieve a thicker yogurt, you can add powdered milk (about 1/3 C per quart of milk) or use milk with a higher fat content.  I did try a batch adding powdered milk just out of curiosity and, personally, I did not like it at all.  As a matter of fact I ended up throwing that batch out.

  • 1/2 gallon milk (you can use any fat content milk, even raw, but I used 2%)
  • 4 T plain yogurt (Make sure the yogurt you are using has live active cultures in it.  If using a store-bought yogurt, that information will be stated somewhere on the label.  OR you can use yogurt from a batch you have made previously.)
  1. Containers with lids (I used 4 pint canning jars)
  2. Sterilize jars.  In a Dutch oven or stock pot, boil water.  Place jars in kettle.  After 2 minutes, turn heat off.  Add lids to hot water.  Allow jars and lids to stay in hot water until almost ready to fill with yogurt.  Also, I put the business end of my soup ladle into the hot water and left it there until I was ready to ladle the yogurt into jars.
  3. Scald milk.  In large kettle, pour in milk and heat to 185-195 degrees, stirring often.  Be careful not to scorch your milk.  Your milk will look frothy at this point.
  4. Cool scalded milk to 110-120 degrees, but no more than 120 as the heat will kill the live cultures in the yogurt you'll be adding into the milk...then you wouldn't end up with a fresh batch of yogurt!  I waited until mine reached about 115.
  5. Take jars and lids out of hot water.  Place upside down on a clean towel to drain.
  6. Preheat dehydrator to 115 degrees.  Don't forget to take out all the trays!  (You can leave the bottom one in if you choose.)
  7. Add yogurt to milk.  So the yogurt is well mixed with the milk, spoon the yogurt into a bowl, add a small amount of the cooled milk and whisk together.  Add that mixture to the remaining milk and stir.
  8. Ladle yogurt into jars.  Leave about 1" headspace.  Place lids on loosely.
  9. Place jars in preheated dehydrator for 6 hours.  Do not peek at them or shake them.  They want to be left alone.
  10. Check that your yogurt has "set".   When you tip the jar to the side, the yogurt should pull away from the jar.  Also, as it cools it will thicken a little more.  (Sorry about the blurry can't see this but the yogurt has solidified somewhat.)             
  11. Refrigerate overnight.  Enjoy your fresh yogurt for breakfast in the morning!
Your fresh yogurt will last 7-10 days in the fridge.  Be sure to save a little for your next batch!

Never fear!  If you don't have a dehydrator you can still make your own yogurt!

If you have a small know, the kind you'd normally take on can use that!  That recipe has you add a full cup of yogurt to the 1/2 gallon scalded milk.  Then just place your jars of prepared yogurt in the cooler.  Heat about 1 gallon of water to 122-130 degrees.  Pour water into cooler and shut the lid.  Leave cooler in a warm place or wrap it up with a heavy towel or blanket.  After 3 hours your yogurt should be "set" (I say should be because I haven't actually tried this way yet).  Stick in the fridge to chill and...voila!  Yogurt!

Some great add-in's for your plain yogurt:
  • pure vanilla extract
  • maple syrup, honey, sucanat, molasses or sugar
  • fresh, canned or dried fruit
  • jam
  • granola
  • on top of oatmeal
So, the point of all of this is...nothing ventured, nothing gained.  If you make your own yogurt, you have total control over what is in it.  Also, you are helping to cut down on all the plastic waste.  As Martha S. would say, "It's a good thing!"


What ways do you enjoy your yogurt?  Do you make your own yogurt or ever tried?  And don't forget, if you have a food processor you love (or wouldn't buy again) let me know!

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