It's not as hard as you think! We can see the smiles and tongue to lips action from you already!
Simple ingredients' make this not only a lovely addition to your recipe box, but there's the added benefit of knowing exactly what your eating. So let's go over the wonderful, simple, mouth watering steps shall we?
There are four things to think about: Milk, culture, warm environment, and time. Milk is the easy part, we just wouldn't use UltraPasteurized Commercial milk. Kinder milk is perfect!
Oven Method: You can keep a controlled temperature by placing your soon to be yogurt in a oven with the light on. It's better if you have a quart jar in a pan filled with water around 60-75. Some say to heat the oven to about 125 and then turn it off before you place your 'soon to be' yogurt in the oven. This method is best to make in the evening and let sit overnight. CON: Not consistent method for making yogurt.
Cooler Method: This works great for those who just don't want to spend the money on a Yogotherm or an electric Yogurt maker. Simply place your quart jars of yummy future yogurt into the cooler. Some people wrap towels around the jars to help maintain the heat. This method usually takes 8-12 hours. CON: You have to keep monitoring the temperature. Not easy using this method. Some people use water instead of towels - it gives you more control - add more warm water when needed.
Electronic Yogurt Makers: These are for those that want yogurt now and aren't willing to wait. There are more electric models out there than we can talk about in a day. Some have individual serving cups in them, some do large qualities. Some are professional grade, versus for home use. Prices can range from $40-$125 on average. YIKES, we won't tell you more than that, like we said, we're simply into simple! The benefit would be control, with an electric yogurt maker you don't have to worry about replacing water that cooled as you would with the cooler or oven method.
Yogourt or Belgian Yogurt.
This culture is used like a mother culture would be. Remember our Sourdough blog? With this culture, you would inoculate your yogurt than save 2 tablespoons for next week's yogurt batch. you would have to make sure you used it every week at a minimum. What we didn't like about this culture? It was thinner, you would have to add a thickener (like powdered milk) or strain it through a very fine cloth (butter muslin). Making you wait longer for some yummy yogurt.
There are more cultures out there, but the ones we have used, we got from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. Not only do they offer the Belgian culture, they also offer two types of yogurt culture: Sweet & Creamy. Both are very good. They are single use cultures - you don't save some to inoculate another batch. They are recommend for 1 quart, however we always got 1/2 gallon of yogurt from each packet. They are convenient to use and already have a thickener added (powdered milk). This is the perfect one for any beginner!
So, you have your Kinder milk and the cultures you need. You even have it all planned out! Now what?
The method varies, it all comes down to personal choice. Some people prefer raw milk yogurt and other pasteurize. Again, personal choice. We pasteurize because we always use our older milk. Our milk is raw and keeps for 10-14 days. But when using old milk, we don't want the yogurt to turn to soon. Pasteurization allows us to extend the length of time we can keep our finished product. If you use milk that is fresh, than by all means keep it real, keep it raw! But if like us, you wait until you have too much milk, but want it to last a while, than lightly pasteurize the milk.
If you choose to pasteurize, there are different methods out there. Here is our method: we use a double boiler or a 'Pot in a Pot'. We add hot water to the bottom or external pan. We than place the top (with milk) onto the base, or we place the small pot into the larger pot. We slowly heat the milk up to 165* degrees (73* Celsius). We maintain that temperature for only a minute. We than take the inner pot out and place it in a sink of cold water. We try to chill it down to between 110*-115* degrees. This happens quickly if you use an ice bath. You may have to add more ice as the water gets to warm to cool down the milk to the right temperature. (NOTE: Both the Belgian and Y5 (or Y3) cultures from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company say to heat to 180* degrees, but we have better luck not heating the milk that high.)
Let's Make Some Yogurt!
STEP ONE: If you're using raw milk, you need to heat the milk, warm it up to a temperature that will be the best for the culture you use. You can either use a double boiler or the 'pot in a pot' method we use. If you pasteurized the milk, you'll need to cool the milk down to the right temperature for the culture you're using. We use 110*-115* degrees for any of the cultures we've mentioned.
STEP TWO: Mix in the culture your using for your yogurt. Let the culture sit for a minute or two. Mix it in your warm milk.
STEP THREE: Place it in the containers your using, depending on which method your using, Yogotherm or quart jars in the cooler, etc.
STEP FOUR: Place it in a safe location, one where you can trust you won't trip over the cooler or on the counter where the cats won't get into it. And either periodically check the temp of the water or ignore it (Yogotherm or electric yogurt maker) like we do. The time will vary depending on the method.
STEP FIVE: Once you have the yogurt ready, all you need is your imagination! We usually use honey to sweeten the yogurt and add what flavors we want, or we just simply add a 3/4 pint of our favorite jam. Mix it and place it into containers for the refrigerator. Leave it in the frig to let the flavors mingle and mix. We usually don't wait that long! It's hard to let the yummy stuff sit, we usually indulge right away because we never seem to have enough empty jars to put the yogurt in (on purpose of course).
There is more to Yogurt than just plain yogurt! Yogurt is as versatile as your imagination is. You can use unflavored yogurt as you would sour cream. Thought of making yogurt cheese? All you need is a fine cloth like butter muslin and a little time to let it drain. How about using it for ice cream? We do......we'll share some of our favorite recipes for that soon!