Last week I shared with you about why you should make your own yogurt, this week I’ll tell you one way to do it.
Yogurt is one of the easiest ferments to master. No special equipment is necessary and you can use yogurt from the store as a starter. I do recommend making your yogurt in an anaerobic vessel like a Pickl-it but don’t let not having one stop you. At the very least, be sure to cover it tightly. Patty from Loving Our Guts did an interesting experiment on yogurt using a Pickl-it, Fido, and mason jar that you can read about here: The Great Yogurt Experiment Conclusion. And KerryAnn from Cooking Traditional Foods wrote about oxygen sensitive Bifidus bacteria here: On Bifidus and Oxygen.
Raw milk yogurt is a little trickier than pasteurized because it is full of it’s own good bacteria and enzymes that prevent it from setting into a solid yogurt like you might be accustomed to. If eating a runnier yogurt doesn’t bother you, you can skip adding the gelatin. A runny yogurt still works great in smoothies.
You can also strain the yogurt to make it thicker. The yogurt pictured above has been strained to get the creamy texture. Simply line a colander with a cheese cloth or tea towel and let the whey drip off until the yogurt is at the desired consistency. Be sure to save the whey! That’s some good stuff. Use it in place of water in your baked goods.
When making raw milk yogurt, you want to start with a fresh starter each time. You don’t want to use raw milk yogurt from a previous batch. It’s not a pure culture and can go off pretty quickly.
Raw Milk Yogurt
- 1 quart fresh raw milk
- 1/4 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt*
- 1 tsp gelatin (optional)
If using gelatin, mix 1 tsp gelatin in about 1/4 cup of the milk and let set while you do the next steps.
Warm milk on the stove until it’s about 110F (you can skip this step if you are using a dehydrator and just ferment for an extra hour or two).
Gently mix in the starter yogurt and gelatin if using.
Pour into appropriate sized container (a 1.5L Pickl-it or Fido is perfect).
Let ferment at 115F for 24-29 hours (see below for methods). This amount of time will ensure all the lactose is consumed by the bacteria. You can ferment for a shorter time for a less sour yogurt.
Place in fridge for a few hours to let cool and set. Try not to disturb the yogurt too much until it’s cool as this can keep it from setting nicely.
There are various methods you can use to keep your yogurt at the right temp for as long as you need. If you plan on making this a regular in your kitchen, I highly suggest investing in a good dehydrator. A box dehydrator is more versatile than the round layered ones. I use an Excalibur 9 tray dehydrator and love it. It will pay for itself quickly.
*When choosing a yogurt from the store, try to get one that has little if any additives and be sure it says “Live Cultures”. It must be a plain, unflavored, unsweetened yogurt.
Set your dehydrator to 115F. Place yogurt in the middle and let ferment for 24-29 hours. Simple as that. If your dehydrator doesn’t let you set the temp, place a thermometer inside and adjust temp setting as needed.
This is how I made yogurt before getting my Excalibur. Test the temp before doing this with yogurt. Turn your oven light on with a thermometer inside and leave door closed for about an hour. If it stays at 110-115, you’re good to go. Just place yogurt in your oven, be sure to monitor the temp occasionally. If it gets too warm, prop the door open to cool it down a little.
If the oven light isn’t hot enough, heat your oven to 115F (you’ll need to use a thermometer since most ovens don’t go that low). It should just take a minute. Wrap your yogurt container in a couple layers of towels and place in the oven. For a full 24 hour yogurt, you’ll need to reheat the oven once or twice. Just turn it on for a minute and keep your eye on the thermometer.
**Put a big sticky note on your oven to warn people to not turn the oven on! I’ve ruined more than one batch this way.**
Heat some water up to around 115F. Pour into a smaller sized cooler, enough to reach at least halfway up the side of the yogurt container you are using. Place container in the water, close the lid and let ferment for time needed. For a 24 hour yogurt, check the water temp after 8-12 hours and add hot water as needed. Keep the water temp between 100-115F.
Slow Cooker Method
Here is a tutorial for making yogurt in your slow cooker. I have not tried this myself but I know many people who do. http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2011/04/making-homemade-yogurt-2.html
Heat Pad Method
Wrap your yogurt container in a towel and place on top of a heating pad on low heat. You’ll want to monitor the temp of the yogurt. You can adjust the temp by placing the pad either inside or outside the towel.
If you have a different method for keeping your yogurt warm, let me know in the comments!