I have made an insane amount of Homemade Yogurt in the last while. I didn’t realize until recently just how simple the process really is and how amazing the results can be. I’m pretty late to this party because people have been making this for years and years. It honestly never occurred to me and now I’m kicking myself that I didn’t try it sooner. Much like making my own breads, the satisfaction that comes from making my own yogurt is the same. It’s essentially 5 steps: scald, cool, starter, incubate, refrigerate.
The very best part of the process is that all of the work is done while we’re in bed, with no special equipment. In the evening, I scald some cream and milk, add some organic natural yogurt as a “starter” and wake up to a full jar of creamy yogurt. It’s left in the oven all night to incubate and become thick and creamy and tangy. I’ve been enjoying it late in the morning for a snack with some homemade granola and a drizzle of Date Syrup that a student made for me.
The Date Syrup is a coveted jar because she took the time to write down her mom’s recipe, which is fairly detailed, and includes soaking the dates and boiling them down into a thick syrup. This girl is a wonderful young lady, who I know is going to change with world. She told me it’s a Middle Eastern tradition to eat it for breakfast drizzled atop Tahini with some bread for dipping. It makes a lovely sweetener substitute and tastes divine when stirred into some homemade yogurt in the morning. It adds just enough sweetness, without hiding the rich, tang of the yogurt.
In the morning, I take the jar out of the oven and put it in the refrigerator to continue to firm up. After an hour or two, I drain it in cheesecloth until nice and thick, which is exactly how Greek Yogurt is made. Sometimes I can’t wait and choose to eat it warm and slightly thinner with some fresh fruit puree stirred in. It’s absolutely heavenly. If I drain it for quite a while I’m left with a tangy yogurt cheese (also called Labneh), which has the same consistency as cream cheese and is outstanding when spread on rye crisps. Who knew there were so many options!
My first attempt to make it was a complete disaster, and it never set up properly. But, I’m nothing if not persistent and I tried again until I was happy with the results. Fresh dairy is key and I’m an advocate for using premium local dairy when I can. It just tastes better and it’s better for my family and my community. I use Organic Whole Milk and sometimes, when I have some left over, I use cream to make it just a little more decadent.
The hands on prep time is about 30 minutes. The longer it’s left to incubate, the tangier it is. Be prepared because this doesn’t have the store-bought added sweetener taste that you might be used to. It’s slightly tangy and any sweetness is added by you. Try honey or agave. Use fresh seasonal fruit. Stir in some lemon curd (insanely good) or jam. Make frozen yogurt. Stay tuned because I made the most sensational Eton Mess with it that I’m going to share soon!
The possibilities are endless. Just try it! I urge you to try it. If you’re a yogurt loving family like we are this is a win-win situation.
Happy Summer Everyone!
- 4 cups Whole Organic Milk (or sometimes I sub in one cup of cream for the milk)
- 1/4 cup Organic Plain Yogurt with Active Cultures (a MUST)
1. Fill a quart sized mason jar half way with boiling water and cover lightly with the lid. Set aside while you do the rest of the prep. Turn the oven light on.
2. In a large pan, heat the milk to 190° on medium heat. This might take some time but avoids burnt milk at the bottom of the pot. I find that if I take my time bringing the milk to temperature, my yogurt is not grainy. Whisk often as the milk is heating. Once to temperature, remove from heat and let milk rest until it comes down to 120°. You can set the pot in a few inches of cold water in the sink and whisk continually to help the temp come down faster if you’re pressed for time. Whisk in the yogurt. Whisk well to spread all of those active cultures around.
3. Empty the water from the mason jar and pour the milk mixture in. Cover with the lid. I like to wrap the jar in a towel at this point. Place the jar in the oven with the oven light on. Leave overnight- some have results in as little as five hours but I prefer the overnight method. In the morning transfer the yogurt to smaller containers if desired and refrigerate. It will firm up more in the refrigerator. If you like really thick yogurt, strain it in some cheesecloth that is suspended from a deep bowl (in the refrigerator). The yogurt will become thicker after an hour or so but leave it until it reaches your desired consistency. Leave it overnight for some Yogurt Cheese. Refrigerate the yogurt as you normally would.
Note: 1. Keep a 1/4 of yogurt from your new batch to use as a starter for your next batch!
2. No worries if there is a clear liquid on top. That’s pure whey and is excellent when substituted for water in bread making. Refrigerate it and use it in smoothies. Some swear by watering their plants with it too.
3. Sometimes I don’t even bother with the mason jar. I have used the blue pottery bowl you see in the pictures with a smaller plate placed on top. The results have always been excellent!