I pretty much quit making yogurt when I stopped buying raw milk from my rancher friend. However, this spring, I’ve been craving yogurt again — on fruit in the morning after my bike ride, and mixed with Aleppo pepper, salt, herbs and olive oil on almost everything else.
So I’ve been buying yogurt, which bothers me on two fronts. For one thing, the plastic containers — they add up. I don’t use plastic anymore for food storage, and we don’t have good recycling here, and it just seems unnecessary. The other problem is that commercial yogurt has weird things added to it. The thick Greek yogurt has extra milk solids and pectin, and the Tillamook (shown above) freaked me out when I read that it had gelatin and “modified corn starch.” I don’t eat things like “modified corn starch” if I can help it — especially not in something as simple as yogurt.
So, I went back to making it. I bought a container of the yummy, and unadulterated Straus yogurt when I was down at the Bozeman Co-Op the other day, along with a half gallon of Organic Valley whole milk. Since there was about half a quart of skim milk starting to turn in the fridge door, I threw that in too (I’d go back to buying milk from my rancher friend, but I don’t go through a gallon a week, and my cheesemaking phase seems to be over for now).
Here’s the method:
- Heat the milk to 90 degrees Celsius (I use a candy thermometer)
- Put the pot in the sink in an ice bath and stir until the temp comes down to 50 degrees Celsius
- Add yogurt (I poured probably a half cup out of the container — you really only need a few tablespoons, but I always add a little more to be safe)
- Stir to mix
- Ladle the hot milk mixture into clean, sterilized jars (if you like sweet yogurt, you can add a little jam to the bottom of the jars)
- Cap the jars (I reuse lids for this since they go in the fridge and it’s not “real” canning)
- Pack the jars in a cooler, and fill with hot tap water to the bottom of the rings
- Close the lid and put the cooler someplace quiet
- Leave it for several hours or overnight, in the morning take the jars out and put in the fridge. With the seal that forms, they stay good for quite a long while.
There it is. Easy. And you get nice, clean yogurt with no weird stuff in it.