This year I had two specific dairy-related cooking goals. I wanted to make homemade mozzarella cheese (stretching that hot cheese looks so fun!) and homemade yogurt. As I mentioned briefly in my last post, the mozzarella cheese was a flop. I so badly wanted it to work, but I think it had to do with using milk that I believed was pasteurized but was really ultra-pasteurized. So many rules! Anyway, last week I attempted to make homemade yogurt for the second time in my life. I tried to make it 4-5 years ago and it was a flop. I did exactly what I was supposed to and waited all night only to uncover it in the morning and find a runny, tangy bowl of milk. Determined to try again, I found many different recipes on Pinterest and went ahead and tried one from America’s Test Kitchen. The folks there test the bejesus out of their recipes so I trusted this recipe not to fail me. And it did not! It worked perfectly the first time. Making yogurt from scratch sounds like a major ordeal but I assure you, it is very hands-off and quite easy and you don’t need any special equipment. Well, except I am pining for a super expensive digital thermometer.
Homemade Greek Yogurt
Makes about 5 cups
8 cups 2% low-fat milk
1/2 C. dry milk powder
1 C. plain 0 percent Greek yogurt (Be sure that the “starter” yogurt you choose contains live active cultures)
1. Heat milk in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot and steaming but not simmering, 170 to 180 degrees. Stir in milk powder, transfer milk mixture to a large bowl set over an ice bath, and stir milk occasionally until it cools to 110 degrees. *I didn’t make an ice bath, but just kept the bowl at room temp and monitored the temperature every 10min. until it was cooled. I used a candy thermometer clipped to the side of the bowl. It took 30-40min.
2. In a small bowl, whisk yogurt and a ladleful of cooled milk together until smooth. Add yogurt mixture to remaining cooled milk, and whisk to combine.
3. Cover large bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and poke several holes in the plastic. Preheat your oven to whatever temperature you like but only for 1 min. Turn oven off but keep the light on. The oven should remain between 90 and 100 degrees. Place bowl in oven and ferment until yogurt has thickened and set, about 7 hours. *I set the bowl on a cookie sheet and covered it with several kitchen towels to sort of insulate it and keep it warm and cozy. I checked it after 5 hours and it was pretty set but left it in the oven overnight for good measure.
4. Set a mesh strainer or colander over a large measuring cup or bowl and line strainer with 2 coffee filters or a double layer of cheesecloth. Add yogurt, cover strainer with plastic, and refrigerate yogurt until about 3-4 cups of liquid have drained into the measuring cup or bowl. *I only let mine strain 2 hours and plenty of whey had drained. I didn’t want a very thick, sour cream-like consistency and this was just enough.
Transfer yogurt from strainer into a clean, airtight container, discarding drained liquid. At this time you may add vanilla extract to taste and/or any sweetener you prefer. I added 1/4-1/3 C. of white sugar and 2 tsp. vanilla extract to mine and it was great. Serve with honey, fruit, granola or any other topping of you choose.
Yogurt can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
I have read that you can use your own yogurt to start subsequent batches of yogurt but have yet to try it out. This also takes some planning so that you either set aside a little bit right after you make it, or make sure not to eat the entire batch in order to start the next.