Making Yogurt

We love yogurt and it's so versatile! You can eat it plain, with fruit on it, put it on cereal and cook with it. It makes all kinds of great desserts and it is so good for you!

We use so much of it that we make our own in a 2 litre bucket. It makes quick and easy, much faster than buttermilk, but not easier.
 It doesn't make at room temperature like buttermilk does, however, so it has to be heated up and put into a container that will hold the heat long enough (about 8 hours). We ordered our 2 litre bucket yogurt maker from a cheese company in New England many years ago. It's just like the ones that used to be in every home in the 70's and 80's. It is a simple styrofoam cooler, not electric, that the plastic bucket fits in, so it can be made anywhere. I know people who have pur their yogurt containers in other small styrofoam coolers that hold in the heat and covered it wth a warm quilt or blanket. This seems to work and would do in a pinch, if you didn't have an actual "yogurt maker".

We let our yogurt "make" about 8 hours. If you like it less tart, you can take it off earlier.

The thickness of the finished yogurt depends on the milk solids in it. If you want a really solid yogurt, add powdered milk to the milk before putting it in the maker. We used to do this regularly until powdered milk got so expensive. To the 2 litre bucket we make, we added about 1/2 cup of powdered milk. Now that I don't use it, our yogurt is a bit thinner and wetter, but it's still great yogurt. What we make now is similar to many brands of store bought yogurt.

I have discovered that the addition of plain gelatine will help keep it from watering, so now I add about 2 teaspoons of gelatine to the 2 litres of milk when it is very hot and use the hand blender to dissolve it. If you are adding powdered milk to it, the hand blender would be useful too. If you wanted to get creative and you like fruit yogurt, I suppose you could use flavored gelatine, but I have never done so. You can also add sugar, sweetener, jam or fruit to it at this stage. Freezer jam makes great yogurt. It's the sugar and almost fresh fruit all in one.

I use yogurt to start it. I rarely ever buy actual "yogurt starter". Any yogurt will do, as it has the live bacteria culture (acidophilus) in it. I usually make yogurt when there is a little left in the bucket. It doesn't take much (1/2 cup to 2 litres). I spoon it out of the bucket and set it aside, then wash the bucket before making new yogurt in it. I also buy a small plain yogurt when I need to, in order to start a new batch.

Here is a list of what you need to make yogurt: milk to fill your container(s), powdered milk (if using it), gelatine (if using it), thermometer, yogurt starter, and a container/arrangement that will hold the yogurt and hold the heat in for 8 hours.

To make the yogurt, gently heat the milk to 190 degrees F, stirring more or less continuously. Turn off heat. Add the gelatine and powdered milk and blend until dissolved. Cool the milk to 112 degrees F, then add the yogurt starter. If you add the starter to the milk when the milk is still too hot, you will kill the bacteria and it won't make yogurt. If you let it get too cool, it won't make yogurt either. Anywhere around 110-112 degrees going in, with everything added, will make good yogurt. If you don't heat the milk to 190 degrees, you might get yogurt and you might not. It's risky. You might get another bacteria in there that will make something other than yogurt.

Being exact with cleanliness and temperatures is something one gets used to if one makes wine or soap regularly. Making yogurt is much easier ! Try it! Yogurt is so good for you!

Good, solid yogurt without a lot of water.