Last summer I discovered just how easy it is to make yogurt and I’ve been making it almost every week since then. Though vanilla was the first flavor I made and we absolutely loved it, I find plain yogurt is much more versatile so that’s all I make now. We can enjoy it plain (my personal preference) or jazz it up with some preserves, honey, vanilla, granola, fresh fruit, or even use it in cooking.
I adore the rich, creamy texture of Greek yogurt so once I learned how to make yogurt I discovered that making Greek yogurt only requires one additional step, a step I find well worth the effort. Greek yogurt is just yogurt that has been strained of additional whey. Since straining the yogurt really reduces the volume, I always make a gallon at a time, though this method will work with a smaller batch too.
The first step is to heat the milk to 160-180 degrees. I usually use 2% milk, but any kind will work.
I use a medium to medium high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.
Once the temperature reaches 160 degrees, I remove the milk from the heat and set a timer for about an hour and ten minutes. The temperature of the milk needs to be down to about 110 degrees before adding the starter. If the temperature is too high when you add the starter you can kiss your culture goodbye, too cold and the culture can’t do its work. Either way, your batch fails and you don’t want that! You can purchase yogurt starter or use plain yogurt as the starter for your batch. I usually use a few tablespoons from a previous batch as my starter.
Once the temperature drops to 110 degrees I use a measuring cup to scoop out a bit of the warm milk and add a few tablespoons of yogurt. I use a spoon or whisk to mix this together until it’s a smooth consistency.
Once it’s blended I add the yogurt/milk mixture into the big pot of milk and gently stir it again to disperse the culture throughout the milk.
Now it’s time to allow those cultures to turn the milk into yogurt! The milk needs to be kept at right about 110 degrees in order for the cultures to do their thing. Before I purchased my Excalibur dehydrator I used my oven’s bread proof setting and it worked like a charm. There are lots of other ways to incubate the milk without having any fancy equipment. Now I just pop a lid on the pot and put the whole thing in my dehydrator and set the temperature to 110 degrees.
I usually keep the pot in the dehydrator for about 5 hours, but no peeking and no jostling as this can disrupt the process and lead to a failed batch, which is always a bummer. Once the five or so hours have elapsed, I check to make sure the yogurt has set and if so I put the whole covered pot inside my refrigerator to chill out overnight. If not, I add a little more yogurt and let it work for another hour or two.
The yogurt is technically done at this point and can be eaten as is, but as I prefer Greek yogurt I take it to the next level by straining the excess whey. When I first started making Greek yogurt I used a cheesecloth lined colander to strain the whey. I found that process to be extremely messy and rather a royal pain in the neck. After a couple of times doing it that way I began looking for an easier alternative. I found this handy cheese and yogurt making bag and it makes the process SO much easier!
I simply fill the bag with the yogurt and hang it over a large bowl so the whey can drip out. I leave this hanging here for an hour or two until the yogurt is just the right consistency.
It’s been dripping for a couple of hours and I am hungry! See all of the whey that has pooled in the bowl? That means we have Greek yogurt!
Time to scoop it out and put it in the yogurt jar. The cool chalkboard label is from my Etsy shop. I have lots of different styles and can even customize a design for you. If you like them and would like to place an order for some, I will give you a 15% discount if you mention seeing this on my blog. Just send me a convo (note) via my Etsy shop and I will create a custom listing for you with the discount applied.
This first bowl with the dollop of homemade peach preserves is for my little one. He takes great pleasure in mixing it all by himself so I am not allowed to stir it up for him. 🙂
I only scooped out about half of the yogurt. The rest is going to stay in the cheese bag and into the fridge for another day to allow more of the whey to be drained off. Tomorrow morning I should have some delicious, tangy yogurt cheese! More on that in a future post, but here’s a snapshot of how I string up the bag so it stays out of the way, oops I mean whey. My Pampered Chef bowl is perfect for the job! By the way, don’t throw away your whey! It has tons of awesome uses! I am collecting some to make a big batch of ricotta cheese.
Making yogurt is easy, fun and is super healthy. Plus, making it at home is so much cheaper than buying it and the taste of homemade yogurt is far superior to store-bought. If you love yogurt like we do, give it a try! You may never go back to buying it ever again! Feel free to leave questions or comments below.
Until next time…