We eat a lot of yogurt around here. Just the good, plain stuff, sometimes with a little homemade applesauce or other fruit puree mixed in. When I saw instructions on how to make it at home without a machine, and from one of my favorite cookbook authors, I just had to try it.
This method comes from Canning for a New Generation. It's such a great source for pickles and preserves, updated for modern tastes, but also for simple preservation techniques like this one. This is not canning in the technical sense; it's simply a way to use and lengthen the life of good milk that might be on its way out the door.
Contrary to what I'd (and maybe you, too?) assumed, one doesn't need any fancy equipment to make yogurt. A clean jar, a candy thermometer, and a cooler are about the extent of it. The only ingredients are whole milk and a little bit of yogurt to start your culture.
adapted from Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff
makes 1 quart yogurt or 1 pint Greek-style yogurt
- 1 quart milk (whole is best, but low-fat works fine, too)
- 1 Tablespoon plain yogurt with active cultures (and no pectin or other ingredients)
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk until it reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. Meanwhile, fill 1 quart jar or 2 pint jars with hot water and spoon the yogurt into a small bowl.
Remove the pan from the heat and place it in a large bowl of ice water. Stir the milk until the temperature cools to 110 degrees, then remove the pan from the ice bath. Ladle a little of the milk into the bowl with the yogurt and whisk to combine. Stir the yogurt mixture back into the pan of milk.
Pour the hot water out of the jar(s) and pour the milk mixture in. Screw the lid(s) on and place the jar(s) in a cooler. Surround the jar(s) of milk mixture with a couple of jars or bottles of hot water. If your cooler is comically large for the task, as mine is, place some towels between and around the jars to keep everything cozy. Put the lid on the cooler and place it in a spot where it won't be disturbed for ten to twelve hours, as jostling disrupts the fermentation process.
After ten to twelve hours the yogurt is usable, but the texture greatly improves with a couple of hours in the fridge. If you like your yogurt really thick like Greek-style yogurt, strain it in a mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter set over a bowl for a couple of hours.
There you have it: Yogurt!