This recipe makes approximately one and a half quarts of yogurt from two quarts of milk.
There are three key ingredient factors in making yogurt. These are the:
- type of milk
- type of starter yogurt
- starting temperature of the milk
This recipe will explain why each of the above matter. Read everything before you start.
It’s best to prepare by getting the right equipment beforehand.
- You’ll need a yogurt maker which uses a water bath with glass jars for the milk. Some makers use plastic containers which can leach the plastic flavor into the final product. Glass replacement jars are relatively easy to find online, some brands such as Anchor Hocking make a wide range of options.
- An electric timer into which you can plug the yogurt maker. Many yogurt makers don’t have built in timers so you either have to remember to turn it off or plug yours into an external automatic timer like the ones people use to turn on lamps when they are away from home on vacation. Timing is important. Too short a time makes the yogurt watery, too long a time makes it sour.
- Baking thermometer capable of recording temperatures of 100F or 34C
- Cheese maker strainer. The Cuisipro Donvier Yogurt Cheese Maker is simple to use without creating a mess.
After the more expensive investment in equipment, the ingredients are relatively cheap.
- 2 Quarts: antibiotic free milk. This is key as it makes the yogurt really thick and almost sweet. In the united states the Organic Valley, and A2 brands are antibiotic free. Use 2% or higher milk, non fat milk creates yogurt that tastes like chalk. Be careful, organic milk may not be antibiotic free, read the label carefully. Organic milk that’s not antibiotic free will result in a sour smoothie, not yogurt. Regular milk will cause an almost inedible watery and sour product. Do not use lactose free milk as lactose is required to make yogurt. When done correctly the final product will have very low levels of lactose which will make it a more pleasant choice for those who are lactose intolerant.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of Nido powdered milk. If you cannot find Nido, then use a national branded product aimed at children for equivalent, consistent quality. Don’t use store brands for powdered milk. Their quality is highly variable from week to week leading to unpredictable outcomes. Store brands can have lower lactose concentrations and can often require a cup of powder milk for the same results.
- Five ounces (150g) of plain yogurt with live and active culture. Select a brand from your supermarket that is not very sour. The Oikos has given me the best results so far.
- Place about 3/4 of the milk in the jar and gently warm in a microwave to 100F at low power. Place the rest in a glass measuring cup and warm to 100F at low power. If the temperature gets over 110-120F or you have to skim curds off the top it’s too hot and you’ll need to start over with fresh milk. It’s important to use warm milk as a starter. The process takes longer with cold milk and will most likely result in a sour product.
- Pour about 1/4 of the the measuring cup’s milk into a blender, add yogurt. Start blending at lowest speed.
- Pour in the powdered milk and the rest of the milk from the measuring cup. Stop almost immediately when it looks to be all blended in. If you leave it in too long there will be too many fine bubbles and it won’t fit in the big jar when ready. Blending too fast spoils it, I don’t think the yogurt culture can survive higher speeds as the final quality drops noticeably.
- Set the timer for 6 hours. I have mine permanently set to turn on at two past midnight and turn off at 6am. Then I just set the time to 1 minute after midnight to get it started. It’s faster than setting it to actual times if you do it repeatedly.
- Plug in the yogurt maker.
- Insert the glass jar into the yogurt maker.
- Add warm water from faucet to create a bath around the jar. Make sure the water is warm, cold water will slow down fermentation and will result in a sour product.
- Add yogurt mixture from blender into jar. Stir slightly.
- Cover the jar with a lid.
- Leave it alone for about 6-8 hours. At 4 hours it should be thick, but the extra time will remove most of the lactose. If you warm it for more than 12 hours the product will be sour.
- Put the jar in the fridge for 24 hours and serve.
- If you buy the cheese makers for Greek style, then strain the yogurt for about 2-4 hours. Overnight is OK. I forget it in the fridge for a couple days from time to time, it just gets extra thick and you may have to whip some some of the strained curds back into it.
With planning the entire process will require only 10 minutes of work from getting the maker out of the closet to clean up. Then there are a few more small clean ups at 8 hours and when you move the yogurt to smaller containers.
It’s really important to thoroughly clean the cheese maker strainers after each use. Reddish mold can take hold, especially along the edges where the mesh meets the plastic frame. Nothing a sponge can’t handle with mild rubbing. I think it’s harmless, but it pops up from time to time even with the best efforts. I’ve been recently soaking the items in a mild bleach solution about once every month and the issue has gone away.
The yogurt will last a little more than a week in the fridge. It rarely spoils at home because we finish it so quickly.
You will soon cringe at supermarket yogurt.