Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Make your own yogurt

One thing I don't like about the blog format is that it's difficult to find previously written content. So, I've decided to occasionally re-post a few things from the first couple of months when I started this blog, back when there were, maybe, 35 people who bothered to stop by. Unless you are a die-hard Crunchy reader, it's unlikely that you've read all the way back to the beginning. If you are, well, I love you!

However, if you want to read some fresh Crunchy writing, mosey on over to Hen & Harvest for my latest post, Saving Scarlet Runner Beans to read about my latest shenanigans.

Otherwise, on to the yogurt (BTW: I've made a few additions and changes to the original):

We eat a serious amount of yogurt in this house. Being mostly vegetarian, it's a big source of protein for us. Between the four of us eating almost a serving each per day, it adds up. It comes to probably 20+ containers of yogurt a week. I always joke about the "wall of yogurt" travelling down the conveyor belt at the grocery store. The number of plastic containers going in the recycling was starting to unnerve me, as well as the cost (Brown Cow is not the cheapest brand but I love it).

Well, inspired by my fabulous sister-in-law, I decided to start making my own yogurt. I've been tinkering with the recipes to get it to a consistency that we like, and I think I've finally figured it out. I started out making plain and strawberry, but now I'm hooked on making coffee yogurt. So, for your reading enjoyment here's how I go about it.

Little glass jars of yogurt loveFirst of all, you don't really need a yogurt maker, but keeping a steady temperature for 6 - 8 hours is difficult to say the least, and I'm too lazy to watch my yogurt grow all day. After doing some research I decided to go with the Euro Cuisine yogurt maker. It comes with individual glass (reusable!) jars that double as serving containers so you don't need to dig it out of a quart size container. Plus you can mix up different flavors if you want in one batch. I highly recommend it.

The recipe I've been using for the coffee yogurt is as follows:

1 quart of whole milk (heat on the stovetop to about 200 degrees F)
2 T sugar (you can use honey or maple syrup instead)
2 T instant espresso (I use Medaglia D'Oro)

Add the goodsMix the above three ingredients together after you take the milk off the stove. When it cools to room temperature (or about 95 degrees F), blend in:

6 oz plain yogurt (whole, lowfat or nonfat -- depending on how much fat you like)

This last step is critical. You need a yogurt "starter" to grow more yogurt.

You can use whatever percentage milkfat you want, we like ours creamy so we go with the whole milk. If you want to go nuts, mix in some half and half or heavy whipping cream. After mixing this all together, pour it into your yogurt maker and, depending on manufacturer's directions, "heat" the yogurt. 8 hours works best in ours.

So, not only do you have total control over the ingredients, the flavoring and the consistency, it ends up being dirt cheap. Compared to $1.20 for a serving from the store, homemade yogurt ends up being more like $.25 per serving if you use the more expensive, local, organic milk (if you use inexpensive, conventional milk it's more like $.12 per serving).

And there you have it! Who knew making yogurt was so damn easy?

Related posts:
Homemade ricotta
Do you need to try no knead bread?
Holy cow! I made my own butter

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

CTDaffodil chiming in....

Crunchy - You bring back memories for me. My sister was a sickly child and my mom would have moved us all to an organic commune in the woods of VT if dad wasn't in the military. (this was in the late 60s early 70s). We drank raw milk from the dairy farm in town (bought secretly of course), anyhow...after some virus ran through the house mom got on a yogurt kick.

I was about 6 or 7 when it all began....

It started with a little Salton machine - made 6 6ounce cups at a time - small white glass cups. She did allow us to mix stuff into it after it was made. Well 6 small cups doesn't go that far considering the time it took to make it. So she talked dad into making a yogurt box - if I remember right it was made from plywood, styrofoam inside and had these metal racks inside to 'cook' the yogurt on. She was in business - whole raw milk fresh that day into yogurt. Now this contraption I think was heated by a HUGE light bulb and the cover had a lock on it and we were told NEVER touch the box when its closed. She used to make 12 containers at a time. We ate lots of it growing up.
Considering that Organic Gardening was the only magazine to actually get mailed to us that may be where the plans came from.

Mom has since given up the machine in favor of quart size organic yogurt. The dairy farm is still a farm well, vineyard...seems all that cow dung was good for grape growing....I've wondered about finding one of those salton machines - what could I get my kids into...

LeahBear said...

Wow, this does sound really easy, and I'm surprised at the price of the yogurt maker - I expected it to be super expensive!

When you were experimenting, do you try using low fat milk in your recipe instead of whole milk? Was it gross?

Andrew said...

For those that don't want to buy a gadget, but would like to make their own yogurt:
I put my scaled cooled milk in a quart jar, mix in the yogurt, and set the jar in two gallon drink cooler. Then I pour ~45degree water in to the neck of the jar, put the lid on, and go to bed. In the morning my yogurt is ready.
You won't have the precise control of the yogurt maker, but its low tech, easy, and cheep.

curiousalexa said...

I have to wonder if this would be another application for the 'straw box'? I dug out a cooler that is the right size to hold one of our cooking pots, but haven't actually tried using it yet. I'm sure it'd hold four quart jars quite nicely!

Ann-Marie said...

We go through a fair amount too, so I make about a gallon and a half every two weeks. I make vanilla yogurt, with vanilla powder and local honey to sweeten it. That way any fresh fruit can be added, though I prefer mine with muesli.

I read somewhere that adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup dry milk powder to the milk before it's first heated will make it thicker, so I'll be trying that next time.

Melissa said...

Until recently, I stopped buying yogurt due to the plastic waste. Now my city takes plastics 1-7, so I might try making my own at home. Otherwise, we are yogurt free but carnivores.

De in D.C. said...

If you have an oven that has a 'stay warm' setting, it makes it really easy to keep the yogurt at the proper temperature. I'll do 3 qts at a time in a stainless pot and keep the oven set to 115. It only cycles on for a few seconds an hour so isn't a huge energy suck, but keeps that 110 temp for the milk very nicely.

LHT Rider said...

Another way to make yogurt without a machine is to use a wide-mouth thermos. We got got our recipe from "Simply in Season". We've found the best results by heating the milk up to 180 F and then letting it cool to ~ 115-120 F. You can speed the cooling by putting the milk pot into a larger pan with a bit of water & some ice cubes. We then mix the milk with the starter in the thermos (pre-warmed) & let it sit over night. We have recently started experimenting with powdered milk & our 1st attempt with 1/3 powdered milk (reconstituted) yielded a smother creamier consistency than earlier batches. We plan to increase the proportion of powdered milk next time. Also, we immediately reserve 1/4 cup of each batch & put it in the freezer to start the next one. It's so easy!

Billie said...

Wow this seems so easy. If I wasn't allergic to yogurt, I would think about trying it out. I love, love, love yogurt. Apparently, it has decided to hate me and not worth the pain (literally) of indulging - even occasionally.

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Cool, I didn't even know people could make yogurt at home.

In the step where you mix in the "yogurt Starter", how much milk or half-and-half do you mix in? You said "some" but how much is that?

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Oh, and to find previously written content you can use the "Search" box WAAAYYY at the top of the blog.

fearlesschef said...

Oooh! Great recipe! I shall have to try that this weekend. I'm really the only one who eats the yogurt in this house, so I don't have to make it that often, but I bet if it were coffee flavored...

Mon said...

Must try coffee flavour!
I have a yoghurt maker. It's the most eco I could find - not using any electricity/batteries. Just a tight sealed conatiner to keep the hot water at an even temp for the necessary time.
Similar to Andrew's idea, or a thermos.

Hausfrau said...

Thanks to everyone for their helpful comments. I'm putting this on my to-do list. We feed organic yobaby yogurt to our toddler and it is EXPENSIVE!

Usage Unit said...

The pilot light on my gas stove has always been enough for me to keep the yogurt warm in. If you have an electric one, you can just set it on low till it's warm and it'll keep the heat well enough when it's closed.

I've always used NIM's yogurt recipe.

stella said...

wow! I've been reading this for a long time! I remember making my own yogurt and granola after reading this before.

Mrs. Tomacina Wuthrich said...

Thank you for that information on yogurt. I have been enjoying your blog for some time now. I haved linked with you and would like to know if I can have a reciprocal link?

CatHerder said...

mmmm the coffee in it sounds so good! I read online somewhere that you can make it on top of something warm overnight, like a dvr that runs constantly, or computer....in our house that wouldnt be acceptable (5 roaming cats)...i did check out the 1 qt. salton...i use alot of yogurt when i cook (greek food)....i hadnt thought about making it for a long time, thanks for reminding me!

Tara said...

Dag. I had no clue it was that easy. Thank you!

Carmen said...

I have three boys that eat a TON of yogurt. To cut down on plastic waste and to save money at the same time we've been making our own yogurt for the past 3 months. I love how easy it is! I use a glass-lined thermal coffee carafe or a stainless steel lined 2-quart thermos to make my yogurt. If you don't have the space for a uni-tasker, you can just do it in a thermos! I am LOVING it.

I like to use all my frozen berries from the summer pick-your-own activities to flavor my yogurt. (If you make it plain, you can flavor it however you want after the fact).

We like ours very thick, so I strain it with a fine-mesh sieve before jarring it. They whey that comes out I use for yogurt smoothie drinks. Yum.

BTW, we estimate that we save at least $12/week by making our own. We have used that savings to switch to organic milk in returnable glass bottles from the farmers market.

Marissa said...

urt maker, and when I have the time I do like to make my own, but I have a problem with consistency...it always comes out...sort of.."mealy". anyone know how to remedy this?

Chicken Lady said...

I've been playing around with making yogurt for the last few years. I've had all kinds of luck from pure runny - to clotty -to nice and creamy. I've developed a few tricks, one is to put the milk in my crockpot for two hours. I have a removable ceramic pot which makes cleaning a lot easier than the stovetop method. I have the same eurocuisine yogurt maker that crunchy does, but I found that the little jars were so little that we just had to make it more often..they also leaked around the lid-not good for taking your lunch. Instead, I just use quart canning jars and put a towel over it, letting it cook overnight. I think the keys to good yogurt are a longer slower cooking time, proper temperature before adding starter, whole milk and refrigerating after cooking to help it set up. I've heard that different starters can enhance the thickness of a batch, I've also heard and have tried adding dried milk to the batch because the milk solids make it thicker. Ick, I don't like the taste of dried milk and I could taste it in the yogurt. I've also heard of adding gelatin which I've tried, but it just made mine really clotty...I had to throw that batch out. Instead of worrying too much about the thickness factor, I've come to love my runny yogurt so much that most commercial yogurt is now too thick for my tastes.

RC said...

I tend to be tired and lazy by the evening so I buy my yogurt. I like the same brand as Crunchy.
I use the containers on my farm for plant starting and selling, they are very heavy duty, I make drainage holes with a drillbit. Be sure to clean them otherwise they stink bad since the residue is rotting protein.The Brown Cow brand seems to be unaffected by ultraviolet light and holds up for many months under tropical sun. The Dannon containers are thinner and weaker, but would probably work OK up in the states where the sun is less powerful. We use them here, but they do die off sooner. The Brown Cows I use can often go for two years of several plantings, they are so strong. I have a set out back right now on their third group of passion fruit vines. At my nursery we only sell the plants, never the containers, the clients must return all containers.
That way we control maximum recycling. We have donations from individuals and restaurants of all plastic containers from retail sales and from Sam's and Costco {they both have nice large rectangular containers}and all of them become planters. We experimented to see if we could use the clear plastic for the plant starts, and we found that if we keep them together down in a shady spot, we have no root problems at all.

sophstar's mama said...

That sounds like so much fun! I'll have to check out that yogurt maker, hopefully it's not up the wall expensive...

Sadraki said...

Ohh I need me one of those! My old housemate use to make us all yogurt but in the drafty house to make it right he frequently got up at 3 am to do something too it. I don't live there now so I buy yogurt in bulk but still get irritated with the volume of waste. I just don't have the patience he did. I see those yogurt makers come in different sizes--which size one do you have? Next post some good bread recipes. I went shopping today and realized the only "packaged" foods I buy usually are breads and yogurt.

Leila said...

I'm a little late to this party because I've been traveling. (Not very green of me to fly across the world to the olive harvest but it's my ancestral village & my cousins harvesting... and I flew about 3x in the last 8 years before that)

Anyway

The Lebanese way to make yogurt involves no yogurt maker, cooler, thermos or any special equipment. Yes, a haybox would be a great incubator.

Scald the milk and let it cool until you can hold your (clean) finger in it for the rapid count of 10.

Pour it into a clean container. I use a covered ceramic casserole, but those great Corning glass casseroles with lids are also good. Anything with a lid that can take hot milk. I scald the container with boiling water before pouring in the milk.

Stir up some yogurt in a cup. Oh let's say about a half cup for a half gallon of milk. I pour a little hot milk into the yogurt, too, to bring it to temperature. You want to "break" the curds. Use a yogurt with live cultures, and don't use one that has pectin or gelatin (or anything else) added.

Then stir the yogurt into the hot milk. Cover it with a well-fitted lid. To keep it warm, set it on a folded blanket or towel, and then wrap it up with old blankets, parka, whatever will keep it nice and warm. Let it sit for 6 to 8 hours.

When it has set, put it in the fridge to cool.

For bonus points, yogurt cheese (lebneh):

Take your fresh yogurt, leaving some aside for another starter, and put it into a sterilized muslin bag. Add salt. Tie the bag shut and hang it from an olive tree branch. (Or your sink faucet, or anyplace else it can drain. Or put it in a colander).

Let it drain until it's the consistency you like, from gooey to solid. Turn out onto a plate and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with olives, tomatoes, mint, cucumbers, and pita bread. Or eat unadorned with bread. But must add good olive oil.

Your own oil from the tree where the lebneh drained would of course be optimal but even Lebanese can't achieve that too often. Most of them buy their lebneh in plastic tubs like the rest of us, these days.

Robbyn said...

Great article...we love yogurt around here. I've never yet gotten into the process where you heat it to make it..our work schedules are just upside down and variable and I dont have a machine, etc etc (but hope to somedady :)) On a NZ farm blog I ran across mention of Caspian Sea Yogurt, which does not have to be heated at any point in the making and is as easy as adding the culture to a jar of milk and leaving it out till it firms up. It's pourable rather than really firm, and it's very very mild and sweet. If it overferments, no problem..just drain off the whey and use it like a sourer cheese like feta (just a different consistency) and the whey can be used to make ricotta. But we love it and when we first started making the CSY, my husband couldn't seem to get enough of it...ate it on everything or just by itself (makes great smoothies). The strange thing was that after about a week of that, his skin looked 10 years younger!

Robbyn said...

Oops, forgot to leave a link...here's where we got our starter for the CSY...http://www.happyherbalist.com/caspian_sea_yogurt.htm (no, i don't get anything for directing folks there :))

kidk4m said...

I make yogurt 3x/week using a Salton quart yogurt maker. I use reconstituted organic non-instant powdered milk. I heat it to 100F and then add 1/2cup of starter (Stoneyfield plain). Put it in the warmer for 8-12hrs (it's actually been in there longer because we forgot to take it out with no ill effects).

I used to heat to 120F and then let cool-but it never made sense to me. Why spend all that energy heating just to let it cool? Then I read someplace that it was related to killing off bacteria in unpasturized milk. Now I just heat to 100F since I'm using powdered milk.

We add maple syrup/berries for flavoring after the fact.

We store the completed yogurt in quart yogurt containers.

I used to save starter from the batch I made but it works better for me if I use "fresh".

Sharlene said...

I never knew you could make yogurt at home. Fascinating....

cheaplikeme said...

Thanks for this refresher/reminder. I was making all our own yogurt, but I got so frustrated with the texture (stringy almost ... like okra goo? How do you say?) that I gave up and started buying it again. Creamy is good, soft is fine, but the long strings when I lifted my spoon didn't work for me. I'll try some of these methods out and see if I can find something that works.

Askel Farm said...

To culture our yogurt we use an old cooler with a heating pad on the bottom. You have to experiment with the temp settings. In quart jars we make 1.5 gallons of yo at a time.

Pour a quart into a strainer lines with cheese cloth. Place it in the 'fridge over night to drain. This makes a simple, cheap, and tasty replacement for cream cheese.

Askelfarm@yahoo.com
Certified Naturally Grown

Steph said...

I have the same yogurt maker (but the newer model). The yogurt is delicious. But I have a thin layer of grainy yogurt at the bottom. Any idea how to fix that problem?

In fact, my yogurt is incubating right now, and am going to try to make cream cheese for the first time! Can't wait!

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