There are many ways to “make” yogurt. We will focus on one: thermos yogurt, as it is easy and cost-effective. If you don’t already own a thermos or two, they are usually not hard to find in second hand shops, but you will need a WIDE-MOUTH thermos for this project. You could probably use regular one, but, it will be harder to get the yogurt out.
A thermos is an excellent heat retainer; this will provide the even, slow heat needed to ferment your yogurt.
Yogurt is nothing more than milk that has been fermented by special strains of beneficial bacteria. It is a FERMENTED food, which IS, in and of itself, “probiotic”; it is not necessary to buy a “brand” to get a probiotic; all yogurt (as is true of all fermented foods) are “probiotic”.
Yogurt can be made from any kind of milk, whether raw or pasteurized (let’s not even get into that argument right now!); it can be cow’s milk, goat’s milk, yak milk, whatever you have. I have not tried yak milk, but the point is, you should be able to make yogurt from any kind of milk. You can make yogurt from skim, whole, or any fat content milk.
You will need a “starter” for your yogurt. The simplest thing to do, as long as it is available, is to buy a ready-made yogurt at the grocery. Don’t skimp on quality here; there are many makers of yogurt and, without question, some are healthier than others; read the labels; know what you’re buying before you buy it. For starter, buy only plain yogurt. You can add your fruits, etc., later.
As a rule: use one-half cup (1/2 cup) yogurt to each quart of milk; stir well, to make sure there are no lumps.
Try to use only glass bowls, glass or stainless steel pots, and stainless steel tools for preparing your yogurt. Avoid plastic, wood, and other materials that might “taint” your finished product.
First, heat milk to “almost boiling” (but do not actually boil it – just look for bubbles around the outside edges of your pan, then, let it cool. How much milk? First, determine how much your thermos will hold; then, use the formula given above, adjusting as needed.
Rinse your thermos out with very warm (not hot) water just before the next step.
When the milk has cooled to “luke warm”, add yogurt to milk. Now pour this mixture into your pre-heated wide-mouth thermos, and place the lid. Allow to set 4-6 hours before refrigerating. Leave it alone during this time.
Properly made yogurt is rich and custard-like, with a creamy, slightly tart taste. Homemade yogurt tends to be sweeter than store bought.
If, after refrigerating, you see “waterish” stuff on top, this is whey. You find this in store-bought yogurt, too. Don’t discard it! Stir it back in or drink it – it is rich in vitamin B12 and minerals!
Tips and Tricks for Yogurt Success:
- Do not disturb the milk while “brewing”; even small movements can cause whey separation, which will change your results;
- Don’t overheat the milk (don’t boil it); don’t allow it to cool completely, either; either will cause the retardation of the bacteria, and the yogurt will not ferment properly;
- Do not use old starter; it may not do its job well; On the other hand, a culture that is too “new” (fresh) will not do its job well, either – so if you make your own starters, allow it to age a bit before using (at least 24 hours).
- When you make a fresh batch, save some for your next starter; starter should be used within five (5) days.
Yogurt will keep well for about 8 days under refrigeration and properly packed in an air-tight container. It can also be frozen for several months (who doesn’t love frozen yogurt?)!!
We’re yogurt lovers, so this has been printed out as well as a copy saved. We will however, have to find us a couple of wide mouth thermos’…but I’ll bet that won’t be too hard. We’ve been wanting a couple of them to try out “thermal cooking” anyway! LOL
I would be interested in hearing suggestions on adding flavors, @HerbilGerbil aside from adding fresh fruits. Suggestions? where in process would u add?
Hi, Lee! I like to keep things simple, so, I make mine just plain “vanilla”. Fresh, homemade has a more robust flavor than store bought,so, you may like it plain, too. However, it’s always fun to add your fresh fruits, nuts, etc.
If you really want to have a little fun, make this for dessert and set out a “smorgasbord” of make your own flavors: chopped fresh fruits, chopped nuts, flavorings, etc.
Plain yogurt is also a great ‘raw material’. If you prefer the thicker ‘Greek/Middle Eastern’ style yogurt, just put it in a strainer lined with cheesecloth for a couple hours to drain off some of the whey. If you leave it in the strainer overnight, you end up with fresh ‘farmer’s cheese’ (yummy). If you salt the farmer’s cheese a bit (don’t get too crazy) and let it drip dry (or weight it) a bit longer, you get something very close to Latin American Queso Fresco.
Mix some of the thickened “Greek” with crumbled blue cheese, a little lemon juice and chopped parsley, and you’ll never be satisfied with bottled blue cheese dressing on your Buffalo Wings, etc. again.
I acknowledge that I’m odd, but I actually prefer yogurt to butter and sour cream in mashed potatoes or on top of baked potatoes.
Another idea to try is that the ‘usual’ topping for yogurt in Greece and Turkey is just a little drizzle of honey vs a lot of sweetened fruit.