Making yogurt successfully is a simple matter of understanding its culture.
You need to do the opposite of what you normally do when you are cooking.
You need to create an hospitable environment that allows bacteria to prosper.
The key is temperature.
Bacteria thrive at room temperature. They love lukewarm.
Don’t let your milk get too hot or too cold and your yogurt will do fine.
If you are used to eating sweetened yogurt, you will probably find that plain yogurt takes a bit of getting used to. But its worth it in terms of health and cost.
Up to 50% of the calories in most sweetened commercial yogurts come from sugar, which is a high percentage for something that is usually marketed as a healthy food.
Many plain commercial yogurts use gelatins and other stabilizers.
When you do find a yogurt that isn’t full of sugar and additives, the cost can be outrageous (at least in my grocery stores).
You can make your own yogurt for as little as 1/2 to 2/3 the cost of store bought.
You don’t need fancy tools or complicated equipment. Gather up a saucepan, some Mason jars, a baking tray and a few towels and you’re good to go.
You will need to buy some plain yogurt to act as a starter for your first batch. Buy a brand that does not use gelatin or other additives, and which has active bacterial cultures. I like to use Astro.
- 6 cups warm water
- 1-1/2 cups milk powder
- 1-1/2 cups cream or evaporated milk
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- Clean and dry 6-8 2 500 ml (2 cup) Mason jars.
- Line a 9x13 baking pan with a bath towel.
- Preheat the oven to 150 degrees F. Put the lined baking pan in the oven. Turn the oven off after 5 minutes.
- Dissolve milk powder in the water, and heat until it is just below the boiling point.
- Add the cream or evaporated milk. Stir thoroughly.
- Heat the mixture until bubbles begin to form around the edges of the pan.
- Remove from heat.
- Let the milk mixture cool to room temperature.
- In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of the cooled milk with the ½ of yogurt.
- Mix thoroughly, then stir the yogurt mixture into the remaining milk. Stir thoroughly.
- Ladle the yogurt into the prepared Mason jars and put on lids.
- Place jars on the baking pan that has been heating in the oven. Cover jars with the towel and return to the oven.
- Let the yogurt sit for 8 hours until it has set. Do not disturb the yogurt as it is setting.
- If it is still runny after 8 hours, you can let it sit for up to 4 more hours. You may want to turn the oven on to 150 degrees briefly to keep the temperature in the right zone.
- Put the yogurt in the fridge. It will continue to set as it cools.
You can use an additional 1-1/2 cups of regular milk instead of the cream or evaporated milk if you prefer.