A few years ago, I gave up on yogurt. Actually I didn’t give up on all yogurt, but mostly on the regular American yogurt. Coming from France, where yogurt is king (or queen, if you’re dairy), it’s been hard to adjust to the reality of American yogurt. I have to admit, the American yogurt aisle has greatly expanded since I moved to the US 20 years ago, but still it bares no comparison to the supermarket double-aisle long displays of yogurt and dairy desserts I grew up with. By the way, did you notice all yogurts seem to be the same here, by the way? Sweetened (with real or fake sugar), 0 or 1% fat, very little protein? Compare one of those nutrition labels to one for plain yogurt and you’ll notice plain is the way to go.
And there lies my problem. Plain yogurt here, unless you want to spend $6 a tub for the expensive (=good) stuff, doesn’t taste good. At all. It’s sour, pasty, not creamy (even the 2%). I think that’s why Greek yogurt is so popular today. It actually tastes great compared to that blah yogurt. So I’ve had a dilemma for years. I love yogurt. Well, good yogurt, that is. But the one at the grocery store is inedible. Oh, what to do? Every year, I’ve considered buying myself a yogurt maker and making my own yogurt. But every time I read reviews, I’ve been disappointed. Either the machine can get too hot and kill the cultures, or it is too cold and takes forever to make yogurt. I couldn’t pick one model without worrying of making the wrong choice.
And then, a few weeks ago, I had a lightbulb moment. How did people make yogurt before they could buy it at the store, or use a yogurt maker? Humans have been making yogurt for thousands of years. There has to be a better way! And so I googled my way through the history and science of yogurt and discovered that many people out there are making their own yogurt with no fancy yogurt making machines.
So I tried it out the first time. It came out PERFECTLY. Since then, I’ve made more, and it tastes delicious every time. I bought some freezer jam BPA-free cups to use until my yogurt cups arrive from Amazon. The new cups are tall and skinny and they’ll fit in my fridge perfectly.
So, would you like to make your own yogurt too? Here’s my recipe for homemade yogurt. No yogurt maker needed! You can multiply the recipe to get the amount of yogurt you want. 1 cup of milk = 1 cup of yogurt.
Prep time: 30 minutes max
Cooking time: 6 to 10 hours
– 1 cup of milk (1%, 2% or whole)
– 1 tablespoon of store bought yogurt, OR 1 tablespoon of yogurt from the previous batch, OR 1 probiotic pill containing about 3 billion of several types of cultures (the more cultures, the better the taste)
– 1 teaspoon of sugar (optional) – to me, it tastes delicious this way!
– 1 teaspoon of powdered milk (optional)
1) Scold the milk on the stove or in the microwave to reach a temperature of 170 to 180 degrees (about 5 minutes, more if you use more milk). Even if you use pasteurized milk, I recommend you scold it. It helps your yogurt not be runny.
2) Let the milk cool down (about 30 minutes), adding the optional sugar and powdered milk.
3) When the milk reaches 110 degrees, add the yogurt or probiotic pill contents.
4) Pour milk in large container or individual containers. Make sure the containers you use are filled almost to the top.
5) If using small containers, place them in a flat dish so they don’t spill when you move them around.
6) Heat up a microwaveable heating pad in the microwave. You can also use an electric heating pad you can turn on and off. Or you can use a crockpot on low and place your containers in there. Just make sure the milk doesn’t go over 110 degrees.
7) Place heating pad at bottom of the cooler bag. Place yogurt containers on top, then cover with a towel. Seal the cooler bag closed.
8) Place cooler bag by a sunny window or outside in the sun, or a warm place inside. If the inside of the bag feels cool after a few hours, warm up the heating pad again, and seal everything.
9) After about 8 hours (more or less), you’ll have yogurt! Refrigerate for a few hours before eating.
10) If you want Greek yogurt, you can strain this yogurt through a cheesecloth for a few hours to separate the whey.
I promise this will be the BEST yogurt you’ll ever eat! Have you tried making your own yogurt before, yogurt maker or not?