Do you love yogurt? Want to try to make it yourself?
You know you’re curious…
There’s usually some kind of yogurt in my fridge; most of the time, its those small individually packed containers that are flavored with fruit, sugar, and artificial flavors. The flavored yogurts are good, but sometimes, plain unflavored yogurt is just better. Plain yogurt gives you the versatility to do more: baking, parfaits with real fruits, flavoring options… plus the lack of extra artificial ‘crap’ =]
Basically, all you’ll need for this easy DIY yogurt are: some glass jars, 3 ingredients, and a heat source to help keep the jars warm. I decided to use a slow-cooker as the heat source. A warm environment held at a stable temperature is required to help the active cultures grow.
The goal: to be able to maintain a constant temperature between 110 degrees F and 115 degrees F (45 degrees C) for 4 hours or longer if desired.
The original recipe can be found here.
- 3-1/4 cups 1% milk
- 3 tablespoons and 1/2 teaspoon non-fat dry milk powder
- 2 tablespoons and 1-1/4 teaspoons plain yogurt with active cultures
- Using a slow-cooker: place all jars you will be using into the slow-cooker, then add enough water to cover up to the neck of each jar. Take jars out and sterilize if you haven’t already.
- Sterilize all equipment: jars, lids, spoons, ladles, etc. (I used 4 small jars, about 200mL each). To sterilize: bring a pot of water to full boil and fully submerge all equipment. Let equipment sit in boiling water for about 5 minutes, then carefully take equipment out of boiling water (w/ tongs) and set aside (on a paper towel) to dry.
- Warming up the water: turn slow-cooker onto ‘high’ until a temperature of 115 degrees F is reached. Once temperature is reached, turn slow-cooker to ‘keep warm’ setting. Periodically, check the temperature using a candy or meat thermometer.
- Meanwhile, pour milk and dry milk powder into a saucepan. Stir to dissolve and set over medium heat. Heat until just steaming; thermometer should read 180 degrees F (82 degrees C). Remove pan from heat and place into an ice bath (bowl of ice water). Cool until temperature has dropped to 115 degrees F (45 degrees C).
- Once 115 degrees F is reached, remove pan from ice bath and add plain yogurt. Stir until thoroughly blended.
- Ladle milk mixture into sterilized glass jars and fill up to 1/2 inch of rims. Put lids on and place into the warm water bath (water level should be up to the level of the yogurt in the jars). Keep slow-cooker on ‘keep warm’ setting, with slow-cooker lid either off or slightly off center (to allow steam to escape). Periodically check temperature of water to ensure its around 110 to 115 degrees F (45 degrees C) for 4 to 6 hours. **Do not stir or poke the yogurt at all during this time – even if you are tempted! Doing this may cause it to become watery**
- When the time is about up, you can check the yogurt by pressing gently on the top or tipping the jars to see if it is set. It is done when the yogurt is firm and there is a thin layer of yellowish liquid on the top. Remove the jars from the water and dry off. They should be good to keep in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks.
- Be sure to save a little extra to use as a starter for the next batch. Over time your homemade yogurt will start to lose it’s potency as starter (like making a copy of a copy of a copy), so every fourth or fifth batch you may want to use store-bought yogurt as starter. Just make sure it says ”live active cultures” on the container.
The yogurt turned out much firmer/ thick than my previous attempts. I think it was because I was able to better maintain the constant temperature between 110 to 115 degrees F with the water bath. (Previously, I had tried the oven method, where you leave the jars in a warm oven for a period of time – I guess it was never as warm or tended to cool faster than the water bath)
Though the original recipe said to let the yogurt sit for 4 to 6 hours, I ended up letting it sit in the water-bath for 10 hours (overnight). The longer it is allowed to sit (in a warm environment), usually the thicker the yogurt will turn out. However, I have heard that by allowing it to sit longer, a more potent sour flavor may naturally arise, due to the cultures. I had the slow-cooker set on ‘keep warm’ for the first 4 hours (with the cooker lid somewhat open), then I turned the cooker off and closed the lid completely for the last 6 hours.
I personally found that the most tedious step in this recipe was the equipment sterilizing. But other than that, most of the time is spent waiting for your yogurt to set. Unless you make yogurt all the time, I think there will always be some temptation to check/ poke it after 4 hours to see if its actually solid, BUT don’t do it! Just walk away.
So whats left? Eating the yogurt! You can eat it straight up, with flavorings, blended with fruit or w/e… your choice. What I like to do is to add a little honey to the sweeten it up a little; frozen berries or a splash of vanilla also work well too. Enjoy!