You can make yogurt without a yogurt maker. You are in control of the amount of tartness, sweetness, and the flavor.
Prep Time: 40 min prep
Cook Time: 8 hours incubation, 1-2 hours chilling, 3 hours or so straining
Total Time: About 12 hours
Yield: 1/2 gallon unstrained, less if strained
- 1/2 gal whole or 2% milk
- plain yogurt with live cultures
- honey, sugar, or stevia, if desired
- vanilla and other spices, if desired
- fruit or jam, if desired
- Put 1 Tbsp. of live yogurt in a small bowl. Bring to room temperature.
- Fill a 5-quart pot 1/4 of the way with water.
- In a 4 quart pot, put your milk.
- Fit the 4-quart pot in the 5 quart pot, to make a double boiler. This will prevent you from scorching the milk, which will ruin the yogurt.
- Heat the milk to 180 degrees F. I partially covered the pot to speed up the process. Whisk with a non-metal whisk to avoid hot spots and a metallic taste. Don't scrape the bottom to avoid milk solids from getting into the yogurt. A good digital thermometer reads the temperature quickly and accurately. It took almost 30 minutes to get to this temperature. NOTE: If you are not interested in the custard-style or Greek yogurt, the temperature does not have to reach 180 degrees.
- Put your hot milk on a cold burner. Dump the hot water from the 5-quart pot. Refill the pot with fresh water and 2 trays full of ice.
- Put the hot milk into this ice-water bath. Whisk a few times until the temperature reaches 110 degrees F. Don't scrape the bottom.
- Cooling the milk took about 20 minutes. Skim off any skin that has formed, for a smooth yogurt.
- Scoop 1 cup of the cooled milk into the bowl with the 1 Tbsp. yogurt. Whisk until smooth. Whisk back into the rest of the milk.
- You now need a reliable heat source to incubate the milk. I covered my pot with a thermal fleece blanket, put it on my cable box, and covered it with the largest pot I had. You may leave the yogurt for as little as 6 hours or as long as 10. Start with 8 hours. The longer you leave it, the tangier it gets.
- Freeze the container of yogurt you bought in 1 Tbsp. portions. I put each Tbsp. on a piece of plastic wrap and put all the Tbsp. in a ziplock baggie. This will be good for a few months. The next time you make yogurt, bring a Tbsp. to room temperature.
- When you are finished incubating, you have your yogurt.
- For Greek-style yogurt, you have to strain it. Chill it in the refrigerator until cooled down. Then line a strainer with a clean white T-shirt or coffee filters. Put a large bowl under the strainer. Put your yogurt in the strainer. Cover the yogurt with a dinner plate or plastic wrap and strain for 3-4 hours in the refrigerator. If the material is woven tightly enough, which it should be, your whey will be clear.
- Whisk your yogurt for added smoothness. You may flavor right away or leave it alone until you are ready to eat. Plain yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream.
- You may use the diluted whey to water plants, or use full-strength for baking.
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