All right - hiatus is over. Went on vacation with the extended family to the Dells. My little munchkin was afraid of everything as usual....until the last day. Then suddenly she was brave and we couldn't get her out of the water to leave. Go figures.
But I brought our homemade yogurt with us. And a family member or two asked me how to make it. And now that I have made it 5-6 times, I think I can safely answer that.
So here it goes (and this is a bit modified from this link: Homemade yogurt
And the reasons why to do it this way:
1. No fructose corn syrup in it. Very hard to find yogurt these days without this junk. Or if you do, you will pay about $1/6 oz.
2. Can make 1 gallon (or 1/2 as I usually do) for the price of 1 gallon of milk ($4-6).
3. You can make organic yogurt for cheap!! See above.
4. I make it plain and then add whatever fruit I want that day.
5. Great to cook with instead of sour cream. 150 calories/cup vs 400/cup of sour cream.
1/2 gallon Whole milk -organic if you prefer. Doesn't have to be ultra fresh - have used just to expire milk.
1/3 cup sugar (optional - but I think it is perfect with it - a bit more tangy without it)
1/2 cup starter yogurt (have had good luck with Dannon and Greek-or can use leftover homemade)- allow to come to room temp
Thermometer - candy, meat, anything works (needs to read to 185F)
2 Large widemouth mason jars for 1/2 gallon (can use narrow, just easier to get it in/out of the large mouth.)
1. Pour milk into large stock pot
2. Heat over low/med heat until temperature is 185 (takes about 20 min for me on gas stove)
3. Stir frequently so you don't get scalded milk on the bottom. (And if you do scald it - it's ok - just don't scrape off that stuff when you stir and you can still use the rest. I may or may not know this from 1st hand experience.)
4. Once it is at 185, stir in sugar if you are going to add it (haven't tried splenda, but maybe that would work too, or guava nectar or other low cal sweeteners)
5. Then place in sink filled with cold water.
6. Cool down to 120.
7. Mix in starter yogurt. You really need to get this mixed all the way in - whisk very hard to get it dissolved in.
8. Pour into mason jars (I use a large glass measuring cup to pour into the jars as I have had a lot spill by trying to poor directly from pot into jar. And if you scalded the milk and have chunks floating around - you can skim those off first.)
9. Place mason jar into oven. I also had 2 large stockpots of hot faucet water into the oven to help regulate temp.
10. Turn oven on and just preheat for 2 minutes initially. This should get oven temp to 120-130.
11. Turn on oven every 45 minutes for just 1 minute. I leave thermometer in oven to just make sure I am keeping the air temp somewhere between 100-130. I have checked the yogurt and it usually never gets below 108 by doing this.
12. Keep doing this for 5 or so hours. Doesn't have to be precise. The website I used said just 3 hours, but I didn't think the yogurt got thick enough. So I usually go to about 5-6 hours. Just keep setting the timer to preheat oven. Sometimes I stir the jars while they are incubating. I think it gets the cultures more evenly mixed in and results in thicker yogurt.
13. After 5 hours, yogurt will be thicker - but not your yogurt thickness yet.
14. Place lids on jars and put in fridge. Once it is cooled, it will thicken more. Won't be like store bought yogurt, but more like some of the European slightly runny yogurts. But it won't have pectin, fructose, or any other thickeners in it. So it's worth the trade.
The jars should stay good for a couple of weeks. I am going to try making frozen yogurt popsicles this summer. But for now, I usually thaw out some frozen cherries in the microwave. Then add a cup of yogurt and a few chocolate chips (yep can't get enough chocolate!). Makes for a great part of lunch. Husband breaks up granola bar into it for breakfast. Tank gets random veggies, cereal, or fruit mixed in. And the munchkin, well it doesn't come prepackaged with a fake pink color, so she won't eat it!