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DSCN5923I think that homemade yogurt is the most satisfying and easy breakfast there is!  Even if you’re not a ‘yogurt for breakfast’ person there are so many uses for it, I will enumerate a few for you.

Now that I’ve convinced you that yogurt is an incredibly useful thing to keep in your fridge at all times, you may be asking yourself why bother to go through the effort to make it?  Let me provide you with some answers.

  • It’s cheaper! – It’s pretty much just the cost of the milk…
  • It’s healthier! – There’s only two ingredients, your helper bacteria and your dairy of choice.
  • It’s easy! – It only takes a few minutes of hands on time, then you pretty much just let the bacteria do it’s thing.
  • It’s fun! – If you’re the sort of person who thinks that harnessing the power of bacteria and bending them to your yogurty will in your kitchen is fun.  I am.  It’s awesome.  I ❤ science.

Ever since I became obsessed with canning, I wanted a new way to enjoy all my jams and jellies at breakfast.  Plain yogurt with jam and granola was just the ticket for me.  Luckily, my beloved copy of ‘Canning For A New Generation’ has a yogurt recipe in the back section!  That recipe started me on my yogurt making adventure.  I’ve been tinkering around with yogurt making techniques for a year or so now, with some success and many strange yogurt experiments gone wrong…  I think I’ve finally got a technique that works for me, and I’m here to share it with you today.

Homemade Yogurt

Makes 6-7 cups – cost approx $.21 per serving

Ingredients

  • 6 cups milk – Here is where you choose the fat content of your finished yogurt, low fat milk = low fat yogurt and vice versa.  I use 2% and it works out just fine. ($1.12)
  • 3 Tbs prepared plain yogurt – This part is important, you need to find a yogurt that only has two types of ingredients: dairy (milk and/or cream) and live active yogurt cultures (it may list the types of bacteria strains), make sure there is not pectin or other artificial thickeners in there.  I’ve had the most success with the Fage and Tarte brands. ($.25)

Special Hardware

  • Thermometer – A cleaned candy thermometer or a meat thermometer will do the trick.
  • Crock pot – For temperature control.
  • Large towel
  • Glass jars – Cleaned out old salsa jars work just fine but canning jars look awful cute.  Just make sure your chosen jars fit inside the crock pot.

Sooo, before we embark on this science experiment we need to make sure our most important tool is accurate.  That’s the thermometer!  I’m going to go on a schpeal about calibrating it now, please skip this if you already know how.

Do you know why the clip of your thermometer is shaped like that?

DSCN5491It’s to turn that calibration nut on the base of your thermometer!  Now pour yourself a big glass of ice water and stick the thermometer through the that nut shaped hole and put it in the ice water like so:

DSCN5493Let it sit a few minutes, is the temperature at 32 F/0C?  It it is, you just wasted a few minutes of your life.  But hey, now you know your thermometer is accurate.  If not, make sure the nut on the base of the thermometer is fitted into that hole and gently turn it until it reads 32F/0C.  Now onward, to yogurt makery!

To get your equipment all set up, lay the towel down on the counter in an out of the way place and set the crock pot on top of it.  Set the crock pot to the lowest setting.  Also, put on a kettle to boil.  When the water is hot, pour it into your jars to heat and sterilize them.

Pour the milk into a small pot and set it over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Put in the thermometer and turn off the heat when the milk reaches 170F.  The milk will be steamy but not boiling.  This process is to re-pasteurize the milk or re-sterilize it.  We want to be very sure that the only bacteria in the milk are the bacterias we want goshdarnit!

Now set the small pot in a large pot/bowl full of ice water, making sure that you don’t get water into your steamy milk.  Stir it gently until the milk reaches 110F.  This is a happy, jacuzzi-like temperature for your bacteria.

DSCN5498Now, remove the small pot from the ice bath and whisk in the yogurt.  This inoculates the sterile milk with the right yogurt making bacteria.  Pour the hot water out of your jars and into the crock pot.  Fill up the jars with the milk mixture, seal them up and set in the crock pot.  The level of the water should come most of the way up the jars but not cover the lids.  Measure the temperature of the water in the crock pot, it should be between 90 F – 110F.  If it’s too hot, add a little ice water from the ice bath, if it’s too cool, turn up the crock pot a bit.  Now seal up the crock pot and wrap it with the towel to insulate it and keep the temperature more regular.

Check on the temperature of the water in the crock pot every hour or so, turning it on or off to maintain that 90 F – 110 F temperature range.  Your bacteria are so happy at that temperature, they’ll be so happy they’ll turn that milk into thick and creamy yogurt.  The milk should ferment in the crock pot for about 8 – 12 hours, after that should put it in the fridge and eat it however you like!

I like mine best with granola and honey in the morning!  It was so tasty with the Almond Crunch Muesli that I got to try from being in the Raley’s Something Extra Try-It program!DSCN5934***Bonus!  In the future, you can use your homemade yogurt for the starter yogurt you add to your milk, no need to buy a little tub of commercial yogurt.  I only get a new commercial yogurt for starter about once every 3 or 4 times I make yogurt!***

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