Maybe you really want to make your own yogurt, but don’t want to splurge on a yogurt maker. Or maybe you do want to buy a yogurt maker but despite checking out a lot of stores in your area you just can’t find one or don’t have the patience to order one online. If you fall into either of these camps, this post is for you. If you have been following my earlier posts you will know that I’ve recently been buying raw milk from a local farm and turning it into ricotta cheese. Eventually I am hoping to work my way up to more complex cheeses but in the meantime I’ve been tackling easier things to get my confidence up. (This weekend will be either fromage blanc or mozzarella.) This week I decided I wanted to try something a little different and make yogurt instead of cheese and since my yogurt cultures arrived from The Cheesemaker the timing couldn’t be more perfect. There was only one challenge – I couldn’t find a yogurt maker anywhere! This was incredibly disapointing because of course I had seen one for a very cheap price at TJMaxx two years ago but now that I really needed one there were none to be found.
Thankfully we live in a world where a little googling can help you figure out almost everything. I turns out that other food bloggers have run into the same issue and have come up with all kinds of creative ways to make yogurt involving everything from a heating blanket to your crockpot to your oven. After doing a lot of blog reading the heating blanket method, if I can call it that, sounded the easiest. The crockpot method seemed to involve repeatedly turning on and shutting off my crockpot in order to maintain a consistent 110 degrees, which seemed like a pain, and the oven method seemed to require setting the temperature between off and 200 degrees, which mine will not let me do. So the heating blanket method it was. Overall this method worked surprisingly well. I set my alarm for a regular interval throughout the night to check the temperature and it was consistently in the range of 110 +/- 5 degrees, which was what I was looking for. The only thing I didn’t love about my yogurt was that it was thinner than I had hoped. It did firm up in the refrigerator to the consistency of a pourable yogurt and had the tangy taste of yogurt, but it hadn’t transformed as much as I’d expected. I’m guessing there is something in my method I can improve to make this happen, and you can bet I’ll be experimenting, but in the meantime I was pretty pleased with my results. See my method below.
-2 liters milk (I used raw whole milk)
-1 packet Yogotherm yogurt cultures
Heat your milk to 180 degrees F and then turn your burner off and cool to 110 degrees F. (I used a stainless steel saucepan since I thought it would maintain heat well during the incubation period.) Add the contents of your Yogotherm packet and mix well.
At this point you will set up your heating pad system. You will need a heating pad, a towel that is large enough to wrap around your heading pad and pan, your saucepan with lid, and a thermometer. Place your towel on a table or counter and then place the plugged in heating pad on top. Set the saucepan on top of the heating pad and pull the towel up around it to seal in the heat. Use a rubberband or clip if necessary to keep the towel shut. You will need to let your yogurt incubate for between 6 and 8 hours. I recommend taking a temperature reading every couple of hours during this period to ensure the temperature stays between 105-115 degrees F. (This ensures that it’s warm enough to encourage the culture growth and cool enough to not kill the cultures.) If you find your temperature wanders outside this range you can adjust the settings on your heating blanket accordingly. However, high was perfect on mine. Your 6-8 hours are up once your yogurt has achieved the desired texture (although mine thickened up slightly further in the refrigerator) and it has an nice, tangy, yogurty flavor. Place saucepan in the refrigerator to cool yogurt. Once yogurt is cool, enjoy in your favorite recipes!