Day 228: Yogurt Making Magic

yogurt3Grant always gives me a hard time for buying yogurt.  It is pretty much the only thing we still buy in a plastic container, and he doesn’t care for it much, so he likes to chide me for the wasteful packaging.

I have actually cut down on my dairy consumption a lot since we started this project, but I still buy one every week or three (and I personally do think that the transparent Fraser Valley yogurt ones are great for reusing in the freezer because you can see what’s in them).

unfortunately, although the containers can be recycled, they can’t get made into more food grade containers, so it does mean that every yogurt I buy is encased in virgin plastic.

I’ve been reading for awhile now about people making yogurt at home.  I even have a personal friend, Miss. M, who swears by it.  I like the idea of a) reducing plastic waste and b) saving money, but, trouble is, I don’t have a yogurt maker and I can’t buy one because of the darned rules.

Ah ha, then I read that you don’t need a specific appliance, you just need a mason jar and a candy thermometer.  I decided to make yogurt.

yogurt1I think the instructions I actually used came from here or maybe it was here, but I’ll summarize them because it was so darn easy and rewarding, and I think you should try it.

You need to make a little incubator, or as Grant said “a yogurt bed”, so you can tuck it in overnight.  I used a towel in a lidded plastic container about the size of an icecream bucket.  You could use a mini cooler too.

1 litre of milk (I use only half because it was my first try)

2 TBSP plain yogurt with active bacterial culture

-heat milk in saucepan until frothy -185F(85C)

-cool the pot in a cold water bath to close to 110F (43C) – this is the optimal temperature for incubation.

-add the yogurt and stir around

-put in a sterilized mason jar, screw on the lid, wrap it in theyogurt2 towel, and tuck it in to bed for 6 hours in a warm area like near a heating vent.  (I actually just left it on the warm counter  of the dishwasher for about 9 hours overnight)

A little milk and BAM, the next day it’s magically yogurt.  I seriously felt like I made something out of nothing!  It’s like making cake out of water.  Well, maybe not quite, but I’m still pretty impressed.

I if I want to make more yogurt using that yogurt as the culture, they recommend I do it within 5 days which is quite  a lot of yogurt making.  Alternatively, I might just buy a little pot every once in a while to use as starter.  Either way, it would still be much less waste than before.

9 Comments

Filed under DIY, food

9 responses to “Day 228: Yogurt Making Magic

  1. I make my yoghurt in a thermos flask. I don’t have a thermometer so I have to test the temperature with my little finger. You’re right. It’s magical process.

    If you strain it through muslin and mix it with fresh herbs it makes an excellent spread.

  2. kate

    you said darn twice in that post. my roomates will flip out but I think I’m gonna try this. however, I have been buying yogurt from a health food store that gets it from a local dairy AND in glass jars, which I love for for storing everything in the cupboards and sprouting.

  3. Monica

    I use the Yogourmet freeze-dried yogurt starter that comes in paper envelopes in a cardboard box. It seems funny to buy yogurt to make yogurt… You get 6 packets, each making 1 lt. and costs about $6. They have a long shelf life, so are happy to sit in the fridge until needed. Mmm, yummy homemade yogurt… I should make some tonight. It would go brilliantly with some home canned peaches!
    Watch out though – for some reason Canadians think it’s weird to make yogurt. Even though you’re already making your own soap and canning fruit, homemade yogurt is some sort of key trait of hippiedom.

  4. Jen CleanBin

    Just Gai – that spread sounds great. I’ll give it a try.
    Kate – I can’t believe you found yogurt in glass jars! That’s awesome!
    Monica-I wonder if I can use that same powder with my mason jar method? It does make sense because then you don’t have to buy a little pot of yogurt every time.

    You guys are right, making yogurt seems to go “over the line” for some people. I thought it was a little weird myself until I tried it, but honestly, everything I’ve tried making from scratch has been quite rewarding and worthwhile.

  5. Pauline

    Thanks for the reminder on making yoghurt. I used to make mine all the time when the kids were small and we lived in Kenya. I used milk powder to make it thicken more and put it in a bowl of hot water, topping up the water from the kettle when it cooled. Or left it in a warm place, but that’s sometimes unreliable.

    In Kenya I would get my starter by taking a plastic container to the local grocery store (Indian owned) in the small town we lived in. They would make the yoghurt in the container and we would use that to eat and as starter for the next few weeks until it went moggy! I’ve found a wonderful brand in our local farm market – it’s called Fraser Meadows organic and I buy large tubs as we eat a lot, and use the clear plastic tubs to keep dry goods in. Unfortunately they have gone to opaque plastic but when I contacted them this is just temporary. I will definitely go back to making it myself in between buying fresh.

    • Thanks for the Kenya story Pauline. Funny how many people I’ve run into who used to make yogurt. After that post, my mom called me and said she had dusted off her yogurt-maker from way back when. I never even knew she had one!!

      I like the Fraser Meadows too, but I don’t usually buy the big bucket because I can’t get through that much yogurt and Grant turns his nose up at it. Your right though – the transparent containers are great for reusing.

  6. Ruben

    I started making yogourt years ago, and usually make two litres at a time.

    One day I was looking at the big buckets of local organic yogourt and comparing the price to organic milk–wondering why I bother…then I thought of the absolute mountain of plastic buckets I would have if I had been buying buckets.

    I use yogourmet starter myself, and then use the yogourt I make from that to start the next many batches. I have never had a batch die on me. Usually I give up when I go out of town for a while, and start fresh from powder when I get back, otherwise, I just blend in a half cup or so of the last batch of yogourt.

    • I have used the yogourmet powder a few times now. It works fine, but I do like the taste of using fraser valley organic yogurt as a starter better. Still, it’s great because you can always have it on hand. And you’re right Ruben, the cost of our consumer choices isn’t just in the dollar value. If I only considered cost, I wouldn’t get milk in glass bottles.

      • Greta

        I use a crockpot to keep the yogurt at the desired temperature. I heat it a little before I start heating the milk. I want it at 100 degrees to start and then when I put the mason jar/s in I put the lid on, unplug it (saves energy) and wrap it with a thick towel around the outside and one on top. It’s worked every time!

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