Everyone in my family likes yogurt. I usually buy plain organic – and we all spice it up in our own way. For instance, I usually add cinnamon and blueberries to mine. My husband eats his yogurt as a dessert after dinner, then adds chocolate while referencing some childhood memory of how his concoction tastes “exactly like the chocolate yogurt” he ate as a kid (apparently that makes it ok to add chocolate). My kids like their yogurt with berries and a little bit of honey.
I finally made my own yogurt yesterday. It was so much easier to make than I thought it would be. The benefits of homemade yogurt outweigh store-bought by landslide, largely by way of exponentially more friendly bacteria. More “good” bacteria in your gut means improved digestion, less bloating, an improved immune system and overall improved wellness.
If you’re interested in making your own yogurt, here is what you need:
- Milk: I used a gallon because we go through yogurt like crazy in my house. You can use much less if you prefer.
- Starter: A small container of plain yogurt will suffice. I used a container of SuperNatural, but I’ve heard a plain container of Dannon will work, too!
- Thermometer: Candy or meat.
- Jars: I bought a bunch of Bell mason jars, but you can use any well-sterilized glass jar.
- Stock Pot or Dutch Oven: I used two stock pots – one for heating the milk (see below) and one for sterilizing the jars/heating additional water.
- Cooler: Your picnic cooler will do just fine
Step 1: Sterilize the jars by adding about 4 cups of water to a large stock pot. Place the jars you plan to use inside the pot, cover and boil water for about ten minutes.
Step 2: Heat milk to 200 degrees. Heating the milk will begin breaking down some of the lactose, making it a little more digestible.
Step 3: Remove milk from heat and allow to cool to about 120 degrees. You can speed this process up by filling your kitchen sink with cold water and placing the stock pot in the water. The milk will cool really fast this way, so keep an eye on it.
Step 4: Heat a gallon of water to 120 degrees.
Step 5: While your water is heating, add your starter by wisking it in thoroughly. If you’re using a gallon of milk, add about six ounces of starter (a typical single-serving container). Scale down from there if you’re making less.
Step 6: Ladle the milk/starter combination to the sterilized jars – seal tightly.
Step 7: Place the jars into a cooler and add the heated water. Close the top of the cooler and move to an undisturbed location in your house. I put my cooler in the bathtub…just in case it leaked. Leave the yogurt alone for three hours. Remove and place in refrigerator to store. Enjoy!
- Most recipes call for whole milk. I used 2% and it turned out fine. From what I understand, the yogurt is runnier if you use 1% or fat free milk.
- Your starter can make of break the batch, so make sure your starter has plenty of good bacteria present.
- Save a little yogurt from your batch to use as a starter for your next round of yogurt.
I know some of you have made your own yogurt – probably using a different variation of what I did. Share your tweaks or secrets below. I’d benefit from it – as would others. If you read this and decide to make your own yogurt for the first time, let us know how it goes.
As always, connect with me on Facebook. If you’ve got a favorite recipe you’ve been experimenting with – post it. I might want to tinker with it, too!