Homemade Yogurt

My mother and I decided to do an experiment in the kitchen: making homemade yogurt! I love yogurt, but in the last few years they’ve all switched over from natural sweeteners to artificial ones, which I find awful. But a quick trip to MakeYourOwnYogurt.com, and we had directions to make it ourselves!

This was our setup: a big stock pot for sterilizing, a homemade double boiler made with two nesting pots, a coffee pot, a candy thermometer, and a spoon. And of course a half gallon of whole milk from a local dairy, and a package of store bought yogurt for a starter culture.

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The first step was to sterilize all of the equipment. This is to kill random bacteria that might be lurking around, which could interfere with the specific kinds of good bacteria needed to make the yogurt. We boiled a big stock pot of water and dipped the coffee pot, spoon, and other tools in for a few seconds.

The milk goes in the top pot of the double boiler. We used a metal pan with a handle, which fit down into a slightly larger pot (actually the bottom of an ancient pressure cooker). The candy thermometer goes in, and we let it slowly heat up to 185°F (85°C). Interesting note: the burner on the stove is actually bright red, but for some reason it shows up as blue in the photo!

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Once the milk is at the correct temperature, it then gets transferred into a cooling bath; in this case, a large pot filled with ice water in the sink. Using the thermometer, the milk gets slowly cooled down to 110°F (43°C).

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The cool milk then goes into the coffee pot, and 2 tablespoons of plain store bought yogurt is added. I made sure to get a brand that guaranteed live cultures, since the bacteria are necessary to convert the milk to yogurt. Those lovely hands in the pic belong to my mother, Linda. 🙂

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Once the starter blob is mixed in, the coffee pot goes on a heating pad. It has to sit at 100°F (38°C) or so for 7 hours, to allow the bacteria to multiply and do their magic. We wrapped the pot in the pad and clipped it, then nestled the thermometer beside the pot to make sure it stayed around the correct temperature.

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Seven hours later…yogurt! Ta da!

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The final step is to mix it well with the spoon, because it was more liquidy at the top then at the bottom (my research tells me that this liquid is whey). Then it goes into smaller containers and into the fridge to chill overnight.

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The result: …..*drumroll*….a half gallon of tasty yogurt! I’m happy to say that our first attempt was successful. We sweetened the plain yogurt with some shredded coconut, and it was delicious! They say you can also use sugar, honey, pudding mix, or jam, though I haven’t tried any of these myself. The finished product was thinner than the commercial kind, but I didn’t mind.

We’ve actually made another batch since then, and it turned out perfectly as well. I don’t think I’ll ever eat store bought yogurt again! The homemade kind is delicious, and doesn’t have horrible tasting fake sweetener or a bunch of chemicals like commercial brands do.

I might have to look into getting some bigger pots, so we can make bigger batches! 🙂

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