Monday, February 10, 2014

Wait, you don't need a yogurt machine to make yogurt?

No, it's really much easier than I ever imagined.

1/2 gallon of whole milk
2 tablespoons of yogurt (this is the starter or live bacteria to help make the yogurt.  Look for a yogurt brand with live active cultures in it).

Tools needed:
2 quart size mason jars 
1 large sauce pan
meat thermometer
Cooler or a pot w/lid & bath towel
Optional: ladle and slotted spoon
Optional but recommend: reusable cheese cloth or sieve (This must be used to make greek yogurt)
strainer and bowl

1. Heat the milk in a large sauce pan on medium low heat until it reaches between 160-170 degrees.  Stir constantly so the milk doesn't scorch or stick to the pan.  Turn off burner and remove from heat.  
2.  Meanwhile, bring a large sauce pan of water to a boil.  Once the water reaches a rolling boil, lower the heat and place the empty mason jars (without the lids) into the saucepan.  Cover saucepan and let the jars sterilize for ten minutes.  With a slotted spoon carefully remove jars from water and place on the counter.  
3. Once the milk has cooled to 110 degrees, pour or ladle the milk into the mason jars leaving about 1/2 inch at the top.  Note: there may be a small amount of leftover milk. Add 1 tablespoon of yogurt to each mason jar.  Cover and shake gently so the yogurt gets incorporated into the milk.
4. **This step is crucial and the reason you don't need a yogurt machine.** Place the jars into a cooler and fill with warm water (110 degrees) until the jars are surrounded with water, just below the lids.  This is the happy temperature so the healthy bacteria will grow, giving you yogurt!  
5.  Leave the mason jars in the water bath for at least 4 hours. For a more tart yogurt, let them culture  for up to 16 hours.  It's important to check on the water every few hours and add hot water as needed to keep the temperature close to 110 degrees.
6. Open up the yogurt and smell.  If it smells like yogurt, refrigerate or proceed to step 7. Sometimes a batch can go bad by either contamination or overheating the yogurt. If it smells rotten or looks like cottage cheese, the batch went bad, don't eat! 
 7. For Greek yogurt: Place a bowl underneath a strainer.  Line the strainer with a reusable cheese cloth (a thin dish towel or a clean t-shirt will also work).  Pour the yogurt over the reusable cheese cloth. Place in the fridge, covered, allowing the yogurt to strain for 1-4 hours.  The yogurt will reduce in size to about half.  Discard the liquid byproduct and spoon yogurt back into mason jar.  Refrigerate and enjoy!

Finished product before straining into greek yogurt:

Greek yogurt final product:

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