Homemade Yogurt

My mother is not a hippie. She would never be mistaken as “granola”. Birkenstocks have never graced her perfectly manicured feet. However, when I was a kid, the dogs were fed brewer’s yeast, our bread came from the health food store, red dye no. 2 was banned from the house, and our yogurt was homemade. I thought it was so lame. My friends were eating yogurt with dreamy flavors of coffee, chocolate, and lemon swirl, while I was being brainwashed. Brainwashed to believe that mine, while not sweet like pudding,was filled with acidolphilus. It would be myy best defense against turistas, if ever I found my 8 year old self in Mexico with a head of unwashed lettuce in one hand, and a tall glass of tap water in the other. Here in lies the rub. Now as an adult, I love homemade yogurt and find myself extolling the virtues of good bacteria without apology, to anyone who will listen.

Homemade Yogurt
1/2 gallon milk (i use 2%)
1/4 cup good quality plain yogurt-room temperature
jams, jellies, honey, fruit–to serve

Preheat oven to 185F. Heat milk in a pot that will best retain temperature over low heat until it reaches 185F. Once it reaches the desired temperature, pop it into the preheated oven and allow to sit for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow the milk to cool to 110F. When the milk has cooled to 110F add the yogurt and stir well. It is important to keep the milk at 110F for the next 7-10 hours.(i have a warming oven that i use which will keep a consistent low temperature. Other methods can be a warming pad, creating a foil tent over a electric skillet, testing the residual heat of an upper oven, while the lower oven is on, placing the pot in a water bath and keeping the water at 110F) After 7-10 hours you will see thickened milk soaking in the whey. Give this a good stir, then spoon into containers and place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before eating.

What I do next is not necessary, but Mike and I have different ideas about how thick yogurt should be. I like mine extra thick, he doesn’t. I place the yogurt in a sieve lined with cheesecloth over a large bowl, and let it sit for a few hours or overnight. The yogurt becomes the consistency of cream cheese, and the whey collects in the bowl. I place the yogurt in one container and the whey in another. When I make up my pots of yogurt, I whisk in enough whey to achieve the desired consistency. The extra thick yogurt is great as a spread on bread or for flavored dips.