How To: Make Yogurt

Did you know that yogurt can be easily made at home?  I have been doing this for a long time.  I am crazy about kitchen gadgets and appliances, but I can assure you that yogurt-making doesn’t require any fancy equipment (though it would be nice to have, of course!).  The whole process can be a little intimidating at first, but after you have made a batch or two, all of the steps make perfect sense.

I always buy regular and Greek yogurt from the grocery store.  There is nothing wrong with store-bought yogurt in terms of taste and most of them are actually pretty good (FAGE Total with honey…yumm), but most of them also come with artificial flavorings, preservatives, and thickening agents like gelatin or pectin, which you probably don’t need.  Making yogurt at home requires only two ingredients, and is great if you want to adjust the tartness and thickness to your liking, or if you want to use up a huge gallon of milk before the expiration date.  And the convenience of having such a large supply of yogurt on hand means you can churn out frozen yogurt any time you want!

Homemade Yogurt
(makes about a quart of yogurt)

1 quart milk (skim, 1%, 2%, or whole milk all work)
3 tbsp plain store-bought yogurt with live bacterial culture (make sure it says so on the label), at room temperature

In a heavy-bottom pan, heat the milk slowly over low heat until it reaches 180ºF for sterilization.  Allow the milk to cool to 110ºF.  Pour the milk into a clean container and gently whisk in the starter yogurt.

Turn on the oven until the temperature reaches 110ºF and shut off the heat.  Place the bowl of milk in the oven and incubate for 3-10 hours until the yogurt has thickened to your liking.  Cool the yogurt in the fridge and serve plain or with vanilla extract, fruit, honey or jam for flavoring.

*Do not disturb the yogurt (ie: stirring the mixture) during the incubation period.  And try to keep the oven door closed- at least for the first three hours- so that the temperature stays as close to 110ºF as possible.

*I find that the yogurt tastes best after 8 hours of incubation, but it can be 3 or 6 or 10 hours for you.  It will become tangier and thicker the longer it incubates.  Feel free to experiment with it and see what works for you.

*If you like thicker yogurt, pour it into a colander lined with cheese cloth, or paper towels, and let the excess liquid drip into a bowl below.

*Make sure you save a few tablespoons of yogurt for the next batch!

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