How to make yogurt
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  1. #1

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    Default How to make yogurt

    How to make yogurt


    Recipe Description
    Yogurt is pretty easy to make. You might need to go through a bit of trial and error at first, but once you find the right system for your home, it's way easier than pie.
    Preparation Steps:
    Tools: Yogurt making requires a saucepan, thermometer (at $3 stem thermometer works fine, as do candy and some meat thermometers), spoons, containers in which to put the yogurt (recycle store yogurt cartons, or use canning jars, as I do), and something to keep your yogurt warm during the incubation period. More on that later.
    Level of Difficulty:Time Needed:Ingredients:
    To make yogurt, you need milk and you need starter, which can come from some 'real' yogurt (homemade or store-bought) or packaged 'yogurt starter'.
    Serves:Directions:
    Yogurt is simply milk that has been changed by the growth of healthy, beneficial bacteria. Depending on the brand, the yogurt you buy at the store may not resemble 'real' yogurt.

    First, let's talk about your milk:
    Really any kind of cow's milk will do: raw, pasteurized, homogenized, fat free, 1%, 2%, whole, reconstituted powdered milk - whatever. I use reconstituted fat free organic powdered milk. I believe a friend of mine uses goat's milk.

    Secondly, let's talk about your starter:
    If you choose to use purchased yogurt to start your yogurt, buy plain (unflavored) yogurt and read the package carefully. Somewhere it will say one of two things.

    Either: 1. "Made with active cultures" - do NOT buy this one! It was probably pasteurized after being made, which kills the cultures. If you try to make yogurt, nothing will happen.

    Or: 2. "Contains" active cultures..." and it will go on to list the scientific names of the bacterium. You might recognize acidophilus and others. This is the one you want!

    If you choose to use commercial yogurt starter, you just buy it in the refrigerated section of a store with a reasonable natural foods department. Expect to pay about $3 - $4 for a packet that says it makes 6 quarts of yogurt (actually it makes MUCH more). Commercial yogurt starter must be kept refrigerated and can be frozen. One friend of mine keeps a package in her freezer, as part of her family's disaster plan. Once you've used commercial starter to make yogurt, you can use your homemade yogurt as starter next time.

    Making the yogurt - the basic process
    1. Starting with liquid milk of your choice, put one quart (litre) of milk in a sauce pan over medium heat. Do not go above medium or the milk will scorch. Heat the milk slowly until it reaches about 180*F (82*C)- the milk will begin to steam and bubbles will form around the edge of the pan. Do not allow the milk to boil. Once 180*F (82*C) has been reached, pull the pan off the heat and allow the milk to cool to about 108-112*F (42-44*C). This might take up to an hour, depending on many factors.

    2. Once the milk is cooled, you need to add your starter.
    a) If using yogurt as a starter, gently mix about 4-8 Tbsp (1/4 - 1/2 cup) (60 - 120ml) of yogurt with about 1 cup (250ml) of lukewarm milk. Then pour that mixture back into your pan of milk.
    b) If using packaged starter, dissolve the 5gm packet into one cup of lukewarm milk (my friend who uses goat's milk also only uses a few grains of the starter - maybe a 10th of the package). Mix gently and pour back into your pan of milk.

    In either case, mix well, but you don't want to beat it to death, as that can literally kill the cultures.

    3. Pour your milk/starter mixture into your containers and then incubate until yogurt is done. To incubate, you must keep the yogurt at about 110*F (43*C). More on this below.

    4. When the yogurt is done incubating, you must refrigerate it, both to stop the incubating and to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

    How to incubate
    There are as many ways to incubate as there are people making their own yogurt. Possibilities include: keeping the mixture in a high-quality thermos, wrapping your containers in a heating pad, placing your containers in a commercial yogurt machine, placing the containers in your oven with a pan of hot water right next to them, using a crockpot of water, etc.

    I personally tried the thermos method once (my first time). I found it difficult to clean the bottom of my tall skinny one-quart (litre) thermos, when I was done. I do not own a heating pad or a yogurt machine. What I do is pour my milk/starter mixture into canning jars. I place the jars in crockpot full of water (so that the jars are covered with water up to the same height that they are filled with yogurt. I keep my stem thermometer in the water and about every 20-30 minutes, I switch the crock from 'off' to 'low' and back & forth. I keep the temperature between 105*F and 115*F (41*C to 54*C). A more constant temperature would be better. Because my method requires frequent checking-in, I make yogurt when I'm baking or cleaning or otherwise in the kitchen for a while.

    When incubating, do not jostle or stir the yogurt. Doing so will cause the whey (thin watery stuff) to separate from the curd. This is not harmful, but some people don't care for it. In theory, the whey can be stirred back in, but that has not always worked for me.

    When will it be done?
    My method takes about 3.5 hours for the yogurt to set up. It's not as firm as store yogurt, but if it goes longer, they whey rises to the top and we don't care for that.

    When I did the thermos method, it took about the same length of time.

    I have done internet searches and heard of people incubating the yogurt for as long as 12 hours.

    I think it really depends on your circumstances: temperature of the kitchen, what you use to incubate, how much starter you use. I think start may be the key. I haven't experimented much with this, but based on my understanding microbiology, I think that the more starter you use, the faster your yogurt will set up. The less you use, the longer it will take, and the more tart it will taste.

    I am beginning to suspect that if I used a less start and a longer incubation time, I would end up with a firmer product.

    How to eat it
    If you like plain yogurt, dig in.

    If you are used to store yogurt, add some fruit or fruit jelly/jam, a dash of vanilla, a touch of honey - whatever tastes good.

    I use my yogurt to make smoothies for the kids. Banana mostly. I use a pint of yogurt, one or two bananas, a few drops of vanilla and about a teaspoon of honey. The girls think it's a wonderful treat.

    Please feel free to ask any questions. If I do some experimenting, I'll update this thread with my results.

  2. #2

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    Valerie, this is how I make the yogurt for my quark. Only one difference in my method is that I put the mixture in the crockpot turn it on for an hour, then turn it off and leave it for about 8 - 10 hours.

    It's a good recipe and it makes a nice yogurt. Thanks for sharing.

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    Valerie, thank you. I plan on making my own in the next couple weeks.

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    Let us know how it goes.

  6. #5
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    Valerie,
    Than you for this information. I would have never thought to make my own yogurt. But it does seem easy!!
    I, in my spendthrift days, bought a family sized dehydrator. I'm thinking, that I could use my dehydrator set at 110*F to culture the yogurt?
    Also, could one just use acidophillus or lactobaccillus that people add to there food or drink? Being a nurse, I found some people use this to counter-act the side-effect of diarrhea when using antibiotics.
    Never priced it out though. Just wondering.

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    My yogourmet starter contains: L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus, and L. Acidophilus. I think you need all three.

  8. #7
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    Okidoki.
    I guess I'll start with store bought yogurt before I pay for the packaged form.
    Do you recommend a particular brand?

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    Brands vary in their regional availability. Just check the labels, as I describe in the original post.

    Whether it works or not, come back and tell us how it went.

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    cheryl, don't get one that contains gelatin.

  11. #10
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    I shall check the store shelves. and let you know. I'll walk to the store tomm.

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    Actually you can skip the thermometer. I have two Lebanese cookbooks that have the same recipe in them. Instead of using a thermometer, use your little finger. (Please wash it first, OK?
    When you can just leave your pinkie in and stir for 10 seconds, not longer, it's ready to add the starter. Also, after you add and stir, wrap your pan in a blanket and DON'T MOVE IT over night. I make this in the evening when I'm watching TV and wrap it up before going to bed. Then, before you put it in your storage container(s) take out your starter for your next batch. Otherwise if you wait and use the end of that batch for starter, it'll be too runny and the next batch won't set up properly.

    If you want, make lebneh. Take your fresh yogurt and put it in cheesecloth in a colandar. Leave it in the sink for a few hours until so much liquid isn't dripping. Then set the colandar in a dish to catch what's left and put in frig. Check it regularly so you can empty the draining liquid. You can use this as a spread with any type of bread. You can also put it in a bowl, pour some olive oil on top and dip pieces of pita bread on it. I think you can even use it to make mock cream cheesecake. Experiment. It's very healthy. My kids and I have it in pita bread roll ups just about every morning.

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    Bumping this up.

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    Bumping again.

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