The lovely Cher of The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler was our July Daring Cooks’ hostess and she asked us to create homemade yogurt in our own kitchens! No incubators needed, no expensive equipment or ingredients, just a few items and we had delicious yogurt for a fraction of the cost and a whole lot healthier than what you buy in the stores!
This challenge came at an interesting time for me. Despite the fact that I have oft stated that I can not start my day without yoghourt and granola… I’ve recently been experimenting with non-yoghourty breakfasts, so my consumption has been way down. Couple this with the abysmal failure of my last few batches of yoghourt (I’m going to blame incubation temperature, but honestly am not really sure what happened) and it was a good spur to shake off my culturing failure and try again.
One thing that Cher’s recipe included that I hadn’t tried before was milk powder. I’ve seen many recipes online that call for it, but the idea of powdered milk kind of squicks me out, so I’d never used it. Given that this was a challenge, however, I figured I’d give it a shot. Here’s what happened!
Step One: stop being squicked out by the powdered milk. Then:
One quart (4 cups / 1 litre) whole milk — Note: I used 1.3L
¼ cup (18 gm) non-fat dry milk (optional, but recommended)
Sweetener (optional – 1 tablespoon of agave nectar, honey or sugar)
¼ cup (2 oz) plain yogurt
- The suggestion is to use a double boiler, but I always just heat it up in a pot.
- Using my extremely unreliable candy thermometer (* shakes fist *), I heated the milk+powdered milk up to 185°F. The directions state to stir frequently. I was… somewhat laissez faire about that part.
- While the milk is heating up, make ready your ice bath. (The suggestion is 4 cups of ice and 2-4 cups of water. Personally, I get some cold water in the small half-sink and put a few freezer packs in it, but if you’re in a hurry, more ice would definitely be faster.)
- When the milk mixture reaches temperature (185°F), take it off the heat and plunge into the ice bath (careful not to get the water into the milk!). Watch the temperature: when it reaches 115°F, pull it out of the ice…
- …and stir in the starter. I find this part works best if you mix your starter yoghourt into a small amount of the milk, and then stir that into the remaining milk.
- Cher’s instructions suggest ladling into 1/2 pint jars, but at this point I poured my mixture into a cast-iron pot (keeps the heat in longer), cover it, and put it into a slightly-warmed oven.
- With the light on, I let my yoghourt incubate about 8 hours (overnight), and the results were great! The ideal temperature is around 122°F, so if you have a more precise way of achieving that, go for it.
- Once the yogurt is done incubating, carefully transfer the containers to the refrigerator and chill for at least 8 hours. This step helps to thicken the yogurt and lulls those ravenous friendly bacteria back to their sluggish state.
Of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone (also: I much prefer thicker yoghourt), so I then strained my yoghourt:
It was delicious! Creamy and tangy and a complete non-failure: a much-needed confidence boost in the yoghourt department! Of course, since I’m currently not really snacking on yoghourt, and what with it being Deep, Hot, July… an obvious extra step presented itself!
Starting with the wonderful strained yoghourt, I stirred in some lime zest and juice, a little sugar and threw it in the ice cream maker: voila! Lime fro-yo! (Dare I say it? Even better than the plain yoghourt.)
Thanks Cher for this timely challenge — it was definitely high time I jumped back on the yoghourt wagon!