Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Homemade Yogurt

I have been making my own yogurt for a few months now and we are loving it!  It's so easy, I wish I would have tried it sooner!  Like usual, I did some research and looked over many yogurt recipes.  There were crock pot, stove top, using a cooler, or oven methods.  I took bits and pieces of each recipe and did what would work best for me.  I also knew I wanted a thicker yogurt and vanilla flavor, as we use our yogurt mostly for smoothies.  So what I have come up with works wonderful and I'm so pleased with the results!  It's delicious and creamy!

What you need to get started:

1 gallon of milk (I started out using whole milk because that is what most recipes called for.  I then switched to 1% because I really wanted a lower fat yogurt, and it's works just as good)

1 cup of yogurt starter (you can use one cup of plain Dannon or Yoplait, or a cup from your own previous batch)

candy thermometer

4 or 5 quart glass canning jars and lids (I always sterilize mine in the dishwasher)

1.  Pour one gallon of milk into a large, heavy bottomed stockpot.  Heat the milk to 185-195 degrees.

2.  Place the pot in a sink filled with cold water and let the milk cool to 120-130 degrees.  (this happens fairly quick, maybe 10 minutes)  (as soon as you place the pot in the sink, turn on the oven to the lowest setting)

(while the milk is cooling, if you want to make vanilla yogurt,  you would now add 1/2 cup of sugar, and 1-2 tbsp. of vanilla.)  Otherwise, skip this step. (I have also tried using honey instead of sugar and it's tastes just as good, but the yogurt isn't as thick)

3. Once the milk is cooled, remove the pan from the sink, and stir one cup of yogurt starter into the cooled milk, using a whisk.  Stir well to ensure that the starter is thoroughly incorporated into the milk.

4.  (this is a step I added to make it thicker)  I now add 1/2 cup of powered milk and stir into the milk until it's dissolved.

5.  Ladle the milk into mason jars (wide mouth works better) and put the lids and bands on.

6.  Turn off the oven and turn on the oven light.  Place the jars in the oven with the light on for 3 hours. 

7.  Remove the jars and place in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.

In the morning you will have a delicious, fresh, yogurt.  I love to make homemade granola (here), to top off the yogurt and some fresh or frozen fruit! 

Speaking of frozen fruit.... our local grocery store had a sale on fresh peaches this past week, so I stocked up!  My kids probably ate a few good pounds, and then I froze the rest.  It was more of a process then I imagined, but I know it will be worth it.

I know it saves me a lot of money, by taking the time to do these things, and I really do enjoy it!  I figured with the yogurt, I can buy the milk for $1.99 a gallon.  So each quart averages out to about .50 cents.  That definitely beats the $2.50 I was paying in the store.  It also gives me the satisfaction of knowing exactly what is in the food they are eating and it's healthy for them!

♥  Shannon