It’s easy to make your own fresh yogurt. All you need is an ice chest, milk and a little bit of yogurt to get it started. It is a great way to preserve extra milk and makes a great, healthy snack. Here’s how to make yogurt at home.
How to Make Yogurt At Home
You will need:
- Ice chest
- 1 quart (4 cups) milk
- 2 Tablespoons yogurt with active cultures
- Candy thermometer (if you have one)
- (Optional for thicker yogurt) ¼ cup or 1/3 cup dry milk
Keep it Active
First, make sure the yogurt you use has active cultures. Somewhere on the label, it should say contains active cultures. If it doesn’t, your yogurt won’t set up.
Some of the sweetened yogurts don’t have active cultures and won’t work for homemade yogurt. Most plain unflavored yogurt has active cultures. Just check the label first.
Choosing the Milk
Yogurt can be made with just about any kind of milk, including dry milk. If using dry milk, mix it with water according to the package directions to make one quart of milk.
(If you want thicker yogurt, you can add dry milk to the milk. If you want to try it, add in about ¼ cup to 1/3 cup dry milk.)
Heat It Up
Pour the milk into a large pan and heat to above 180 degrees. This is where the candy thermometer helps. If you don’t have a thermometer, don’t worry. Simply heat the milk until just before it boils.
Let the milk cool to lukewarm. It should be around 90 to 115 degrees. A way to test the temperature without a thermometer is to place a few drops on the inside of your wrist. It’s just like testing a baby bottle. The milk should feel warm to the touch, not hot. If it’s too hot, it will kill the cultures and your yogurt won’t set up.
Add the Yogurt Cultures
Stir in the yogurt.
Pour the milk and yogurt mixture into a clean bowl or large jar.
Keep It Warm
Yogurt likes temperatures around 100 degrees to 120 degrees. The easiest way to keep it warm is to fill the bottom of an ice chest with a few inches of lukewarm water. Place the jar of yogurt inside and close the lid. The ice chest will keep the yogurt at a constant temperature.
If you don’t have an ice chest, the yogurt can be put on a folded washcloth on a heating pad on the lowest setting. The washcloth helps to diffuse the heat a bit. Wrap a towel over the top and sides to help hold the warmth in.
Let the yogurt set for about 8 to 12 hours. The longer it sits, the tangier it will get.
Check the yogurt after 8 hours. It should be a nice, clean, white color and smell like yogurt.
Look for anything unusual. If you notice any strange colors or streaks in the yogurt, throw it out. Never take chances with strange molds or bacteria. Just toss the mixture, clean your containers well and try again.
If it looks and smells right, give it a stir and check the consistency. Then taste it. If it’s not thick or tangy enough for you, let it set a little longer, checking it each hour.
When it reaches the desired taste and thickness, put it in the refrigerator.
Fresh yogurt is great for cooking, baking, and eating. Stir in some fresh fruit or a spoonful of jam for a sweet and nutritious treat.