Image source: New York Times
Oh, and it’s delicious.
It’s less gelatinous and more delicate than store-bought versions since there are no stabilisers. Flavour-wise, none of the sourness but still tart. It’s probably the healthiest yogurt you can have.
Like bread starters, you can reserve some from each batch to make subsequent batches. Since it keeps for up to two months, you could potentially have yogurt for the rest of your life at the price of milk.
A little planning and preparation makes the whole process go by very smoothly. Having all the equipment ready to go before you start and your incubator definitely helps, and choose a day where you can have four whole uninterrupted hours.
Based heavily from here. Less science-y, more brevity. Makes 4 quarts / 3.75 litres.
- 1 gallon of whole milk. Whole milk means a richer flavour, but most importantly, make sure it’s as fresh as possible. (I used organic Straus whole milk.)
- 1 cup of plain yogurt. Look for yogurt with ingredients that end with -illus and -icus. And, as with the milk, make sure it’s super fresh. (I used organic Straus plain whole milk yogurt.) (Keepin it Straus, sugar.)
- Srsly. THAT’S IT.*
Bring the milk to just below boiling over a medium heat in a thick-bottomed pot. Don’t burn the milk nor boil it. Stir occasionally.
Submerge the pot in a dish with cold water and bring the temperature down to 50ºC / 122ºF. Best way to determine this without a thermometer is to do the bottle test — put a few drops of milk on the inside of your wrist. It should be warm without burning.
Pour 1 cup of the cooled milk into a measuring jug, then add enough yogurt until it makes 2 cups. Mix thoroughly until completely incorporated, then add to the remaining cooled milk and stir thoroughly again.
Divide the milk between your containers, seal immediately, and then incubate for 3 hours. Don’t jiggle or move them during these 3 hours. Take a nap, read a book, run errands, anything — just leave them alone.
After the 3 hours, transfer the yogurt to the fridge to set. If you leave it out any longer then the yogurt will become too acidic, and eventually separate.
For Greek-style yogurt, spoon the yogurt through a collander lined with cheesecloth (some people use a coffee filter) and let the whey drip through for several hours. Apparently the liquid is good for you, so drink up.
* Since I mentioned equipment, you’ll also need:
- Dish of cold water. To cool the milk after you scald it.
- Measuring jug or anything with a cup measurements on it.
- Sterilised containers. Either run them through the dishwasher just beforehand, or if using mason jars, place jars in a pot of water and bring to the boil, then keep boiling for 10 minutes. Run the lids through the hot water too. You can reserve this hot water later for incubation.
- Anything required for your method of incubation. I used the leftover pot of water (for sterilising the jars) as a warm “bath” and put the lid on it. I then filled a deep dish with more hot water, sat the pot inside the dish, then wrapped the lid with a thick towel. Insulating a pot of warm water with hot water, basically. There are many ways to go about it, but the goal is to keep the jars warm for 3 hours at 50ºC / 122ºF. Any higher than this, you’ll kill the bacteria. Any lower than 37ºC / 98º F and the yogurt won’t set.
- Wooden spoon for stirring.
- Funnel or a soup ladle to distribute the milk into jars.