Making Yogurt

It only took me 15 years.

I used to make yogurt. Really, I did. I had one of those nifty little machine with individual glass containers. You prepared your yogurt mix, pour it into the little glass jars, nested the jars into matching holes in the machine, set the cover, turn it on, went to bed…. and voila yogurt for breakfast.

Then we moved, and somehow the jars and the machines got separated. I could never find the jars again. And as good yogurt started to be available in the better stores, the urgency of making yogurt faded. So a few years ago, before we moved again (to our current place) I got rid of the yogurt machine. Of course, a few months later, I found the jars which had been packed more than 10 years prior with Mason jars – a box which had remained untouched as I did not do that much canning in the city. Unlike now.

Also, although I can find respectable yogurt nowadays, the supply is more limited and I have to drive a bit to get it. So I have been vaguely thinking about a yogurt machine again. Except I did not want yet another one-purpose-only gadget. I have heard also of swaddling your yogurt in blanket to keep it warm. That held no appeal to me.

Fast forward a few days, when I read that post. Duh!!!! a cooler and a jar filled with hot water. Who needs a yogurt machine? blankets? Pfff!

That morning, I made yogurt. I loved the uncomplicated low tech approach. I probably put in 1/2 cup of yogurt instead of the 1/3 that El calls for in her recipe since I preferred to err of the side of firm yogurt (the recipe is in the comment section of the post – be sure to scroll down El’s post). That night, for dessert, we had yogurt with roasted Italian plums (frozen from last summer’s harvest).

All I need from now on is a few tablespoons of my yogurt and some milk. It’s little sourdough bread – just keep it going.

I am sold! I have become a yogurt maker again.

It’s about time.

Thanks, El.

10 comments

  1. I make my own too. There is nothing like it. Good for you.

  2. Vanille says:

    My Mum had one of this machine and I do remember really well these little glass containers…
    I bought month ago little glass cups to try my hand at yogurt, but I’ve (like usually) procrastinated this adventure…
    Bonne idée de le remettre au goût du jour !

  3. El says:

    Yay! Was it firm enough for you at 1/2 a cup? What I like about that recipe is it’s the same amount of yogurt that I buy (well, bought) at the store.

    And I am glad you think it’s easy because it really is, isn’t it?

  4. Ed Bruske says:

    Yes, that is how I make yogurt every week with the cream-top milk we get delivered from South Mountain Creamery. Heat 3 1/4 whole milk mixed with 1/2 cup heavy cream or 1/2 & 1/2 in a heavy pot to 210 degrees. Let milk cool to 120. Mix in 2 tablespoons yogurt from last week (or store bought with active cultures). Pour into a warm quart-size canning jar. Place in a small cooler with two other tall jars of hot water. Let sit overnight. The yogurt will actually be thick in just a few hours, but I like the bacteria to work on it longer for the extra tang. It is very important to cook the yogurt to this temperature if you want a thick yogurt. It’s the heat that binds the proteins together to produce thickness.

  5. sylvie says:

    almost look like I am the only one not to make yogurt at home. Come on, Vanille, join the fun! you can use your cute little cups, still!

    Joie de Vivre, yes it is delicious, and I can control how tangy it gets (I like it tangy!).

    El – it was VERY firm. I used a little less for the 2nd batch. And what I like – besides the convenience of not having to drive 9 miles, and back, to get good quality yogurt (that’s how close the closest store – not supermarket, mind you – is from me. ) – is the cost: a quart of high quality yogurt is about $5.00; a 1/2 gallon of (almost local) organic milk is $4.00. It’s 60% cheaper to make it!

    Ed – thanks for the explanation. The first time I made it, I was using raw milk from my cow share, so I heated up the milk to 180, then cooled it to 116 before adding the yogurt. The 2nd time, since I was using pasteurized milk, I just brought it to 116. The just finished seems a tad thinner – but then again, it was a different milk and I let it set out for 8 hours not 10. We’ll see tomorrow, when I eat it for breakfast. If too thin, I will follow your advice to heat it more so it coagulates better.

  6. I recall my grandmother who always made yogurt, had a way of measuring the right temperature. At the point she could keep her finger in the warmed milk for 30 seconds without needing to remove it, that was the time to add the starter. Good stuff, and then there was her yogurt cheese…ummmmmmm.

  7. sylvie says:

    Tom, funny you mentioned that. My mom used to make yogurt without a thermometer too! As I was making my second batch, I was actually trying to see if I could do something like what you relate: get a feel for the right temperature using my little fingers. I figure it would take several batches to arrive at a consistent rule… I’ll have to try the 30-second rule (and see what the thermometer says!) I bet the optimal temperature range is just that: a range! As witnessed by Ed and El using different temperature and also, after a night in the fridge, my second batch was also quite firm.
    Long live yogurt!

  8. […] a 15+ year hiatus, I am again making yogurt. Easy, tasty, low-tech. Did I say easy? Since I much prefer eating yogurt to drinking milk, I have […]

  9. Rose H. says:

    I’m so inspired. I’ll have to try it again soon. I tried it a few times in the first few months after having my daughter but my new mommy brain never quite go the hang of it. I really like the idea of mixing it with the last of my frozen fruits. But what I really want to know is what are those gorgeous cookies (i think) and how do you make them?

  10. sylvie says:

    All right, Rose, you are the 2nd one to ask that: they are simple butter cookies that are traditional in French Brittany. My next post will be how to make them. They are really simple and really good and pair very nicely with fruit (and good by themselves too. Somebody in the house gobbles them down REAL fast!)

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