I bought a yogurt maker a few weeks ago. The thing about a yogurt maker is … it doesn’t make yogurt. You do. You just put the milk in the maker to keep it warm until it turns into yogurt. But, I also discovered, you don’t need a yogurt maker to make it. You can do it very simply in a wide-mouthed Thermos.
It’s really very easy and hands down, the best yogurt I’ve ever consumed. Even people who aren’t really yogurt fans like it. So here goes … This recipe is for two cups (that way you can fit it in a small wide mouth Thermos).
Here’s what you need.
- 2 cups of milk (whole, skim, you choose)
- 1 Tablespoon of store-bought active culture yogurt (that’s plain old, plain yogurt. It can be Greek yogurt, organic yogurt, lowfat Dannon plain, you name it. Not sweetened and not thick and creamy)
- A candy thermometer
- Saucepan (with higher sides, if you have one)
- A wide mouthed Thermos
Heat two cups of milk in a tall saucepan. Bring it to a boil (so it climbs the sides of the pan) for two minutes. (Watch it! Because it will happily bubble over and make a mess.) Stir it occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. If it does, just scoop it out and discard. This is only a few- minute process with only two cups of milk. You can use whole milk to skim milk. You choose.
After the milk has boiled, let it cool to 110-100 degrees (use a candy thermometer. $3 at Kroger). You can just let it cool on the stove top. I put the pan in a bath of cold water and stir. If I let it cool on the stove, I’d get distracted and then it would cool too much, then I’d have to heat it again … blah, blah.
While the milk is cooling, I fill my Thermos with warm water (to prime it). I just use water from the tap. Not boiling hot water but from-the-tap-really warm water.
When it reaches 110, you need to stir in one tablespoon of live active yogurt. That means plain yogurt. It can be Greek yogurt or any variety of plain yogurt with active yogurt culture. Use a milder yogurt, you’ll get a milder yogurt, etc. I’ve discovered it’s better to stir the yogurt with a few tablespoons of the cooled milk, so I can be sure it’s all dissolved, then I stir it into the rest of the milk.
I then empty the water from the Thermos. Wipe it dry and pour in the warm milk and tightly close the cap. That’s all the work. Now you just let that yogurt do it’s thing. In about 4- 5 hours, check it to see if it’s getting a custardy consistency. If it’s not thick enough, let it sit longer. Check it every hour or so. After you’ve done this once, you’ll know how long to leave it when you make future batches.
That’s it. Here’s key stuff to know.
- All your utensils need to be really clean.
- Don’t add your yogurt starter to milk higher than 115 degrees. It’ll kill it. Under 90 degrees will make it inactive, so it won’t repopulate and firm up.
- Skim milk takes longer to get to the right consistency than whole or two-percent milk.
- Refrigerate for four or so hours before you eat it.
- It’s good for about 5-6 days
- And … you can use one tablespoon of your homemade yogurt as a starter for your next batch.
Give it a try. If it’s too tangy, you used too much started yogurt or let it sit too long prior to refrigeration. The nice thing about the yogurt maker is I can make 4 cups at once in separate little jars. I make organic whole-milk yogurt for the baby and include a little heavy cream when boiling the milk. The cream then settles on the top, it’s beautiful and so rich and creamy. (Babies need all that fat for brain development. I just want the fat … because it’s yummy.) Lowfat works beautifully, too.
I buy frozen berries from Trader Joe’s, put about a tablespoon in a bowl, heat for about 30 second on high in the microwave, then one teaspoon of brown sugar, a small handful of walnuts and 1/2 cup of yummy homemade yogurt. Heavenly. You can add honey or jelly or whatever. The nice thing is, you’re in control. The texture is beautiful and makes me wonder what the heck is in store-bought yogurt that makes it so springy. Yuck.