Since this is a staple of my diet, I decided it was time to post how I make my homemade yogurt. A lot of Crohnies have fancy yogurt makers, but I don’t and couldn’t spend the money on one. So, I did some research online for alternate/easy methods that would work with my lifestyle, and came up with this one. Each batch turns out different, and I just found out that I was using an illegal starter (yikes!), but I still love making my own yogurt and knowing how much good there is in it! Here’s what I do:
- 3 quarts Organic Valley whole milk *(see note below)
- 1 quart Organic Valley half-and-half * (see note below)
- “Yogourment” brand freeze-dried starter or Dannon plain full-fat yogurt
- Heating pad
- Large stock pot
Step 1: Put the milk and half-and-half in a pot big enough to hold it. Put it on the stove and bring it up to 185-190 degrees. This is the temperature at which milk starts to froth, like a latte. You will want to keep stirring to keep the milk from scorching or burning.
Step 2: Cool the milk down to around 80 degrees. You can use an “ice bath” method (google it for more info), or just put it in the fridge. I just put mine in the fridge, which takes about 4-6 hours to get the temperature down. I start making my yogurt in the morning so it can cool through the afternoon, and then be ready for step 3 around dinner time.
Step 3: Adding the starter. If you are using the Yogourmet starter, follow the instructions on the package. If you are using yogurt as a starter: Take 1/4 cup of the pre-made yogurt for each quart of milk used and put it in a separate bowl, add to that 1/2 cup of the cooled milk (a 1/2 cup for each quart of milk you used), mix those together well, add it back into the cooled milk and stir until well mixed.
Step 4: Now you need to bring the yogurt back up in temperature, to be between 100-110 degrees. It is important to keep the yogurt between this temperature range for the incubation period, as any higher or any lower will not allow the bacteria to do their good work. I place my milk mixture in my crockpot bowl, and place it on a heating pad. (I had to try 3 different heating pads to find the one that would keep the yogurt at the right temperature for the entire length of time, so you will need to experiment). I then place a large towel over the top. It takes about 1-2 hours for the yogurt to reach the right temperature. Once there, I take the towel off and turn the heating pad down. At that point I can usually just let the yogurt sit for the required 24 hours on my counter-top, checking the temperature whenever I’m around to make sure it’s still in the right range. If it’s too hot, I turn it down or put a dish towel under the bowl. Too low and I turn it up and place a towel on top. Again, you will need to experiment with your heating pad to find out how to make it stay at the right temperature.
Step 5: After 24 hours the yogurt will be done. If I want a thicker yogurt I “drip” it, which means lining a colander with a cotton dish-towel, putting that in a big bowl, pouring the yogurt into the lined colander, and letting the whey drain off for 30-90 minutes. The longer you drip the yogurt, the thicker it will be. I’ve dripped some overnight before, and gotten a great tasting sour cream out of it!
That’s it! It sounds like a lot of work, but once you have the heating pad figured out, it’s really quite easy. My family loves homemade yogurt smoothies in the morning, and I love the fact that I’m feeding them good quality yogurt and not something filled with chemicals and sugar! Enjoy! 🙂
*You can use any % of milk you want. I use whole because I need the good fat. Try to use a good quality milk though.
*You don’t need to use the half-and-half. I use it for the extra fat, and I think it makes a sweeter and creamier yogurt. You can just use all milk though to make your yogurt.