A few years back I took cheese making classes in Vermont. Back on the west coast afterwards, I visited with one of my friends from cheese class to make some cheese and that is when she introduced me to making your own yogurt, allowing me to take her new yogurt maker for a spin.
I loved the idea of making my own yogurt, but honestly, I don't have space for another piece of kitchen equipment on my counters or in my cabinets. Isn't there a way I can mimic the yogurt machine with items in my kitchen currently?
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Why, yes, yes there is. A pot. A thermometer. A whisk. Some jars. An oven.
Organic yogurt can be very expensive. We not only eat yogurt in my house, but also add it to our smoothies. To start your yogurt, you will need to purchase some organic yogurt with live and active cultures. Once you start a batch of yogurt, you will be able to save one jar of it to use to start your next batch of yogurt. I use Straus milk and yogurt (available at Sprouts and Whole Foods), but definitely use a yogurt you love that is organic and unflavored. (Note: you can purchase yogurt cultures online, however, for the ease of making yogurt starting with a bit of organic yogurt works just as well.)
Homemade Yogurt Recipe:
Ingredients: 5 cups organic milk (any fat content, but whole milk makes the creamiest) 5 TBSP. organic yogurt (any fat content, but whole milk makes the creamiest)
Heat oven to 100 degrees F or lowest setting. Once oven reaches the temp, turn it off.
Heat milk to 180 degrees F, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool to 115 degrees F. Temper (aka whisk or stir some of your warmer mixture into your cooler mixture to acclimate it to the temperature, before returning it to the warmer mixture) some of the warm milk into the yogurt, then return the milk-yogurt mixture to the pot of warm milk. Pour into oven safe containers. Place in the warm oven with the oven light on. Don't open the door for 8-10 hours. This is the hardest part so I recommend doing it before bed so that you aren't tempted to open the oven. (Note: You can also place the yogurt in an insulated cooler with warm water or make your yogurt in a dutch oven then place in the warm oven. There are many ways and methods to make yogurt.)
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Chill yogurt. Top or mix in your favorites and eat. Remember to save one jar to use in your next batch of yogurt.
Rachel Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, and single-handedly keeps her local cheese shop in business. You can get more information about her pastry at www.pistolwhippedpastry.com, or on her blog at www.croissantinthecity.com.