How to Make Yogurt: Best Homemade Yogurt Recipe
Most people would rather buy yogurt from the store than make their very own homemade version. They say it is more convenient and practical. However, most of them simply do not like to admit that they think making yogurt is difficult. In this article, we will show you how easy it is to make your own.
Choose How You Want to Make Your Yogurt
The process of making yogurt is pretty straightforward. You need to heat the milk, cool it down, mix live organisms, and then incubate the mixture for several hours. The incubation period will allow the live cultures to work their magic in the making of the yogurt.
In essence, there are only two critical steps in making a yogurt recipe: sterilizing the milk and incubating the mixture. Having said that, there can be a myriad of ways on how to make yogurt at home. You will need cookware to heat the milk without boiling it. Most people use a heavy bottomed pot complete with a lid. Others will use a Dutch oven.
Whatever cookware you decide to choose, it is important to get one that allows uniform distribution of heat. It is also important to have a tight-fitting lid. This helps maintain the ideal incubation temperature so that the milk can turn into a rich and yummy yogurt.
The second critical step in the making of a homemade yogurt recipe is the incubation. Most people will use a convection oven for this purpose. It allows them to maintain the ideal temperature of about 115 degrees Fahrenheit. The only downside to this method is that you may have to keep your oven running for about 8 hours. Also, not all ovens have a very low temperature setting under 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is where a yogurt maker can come in handy. You can purchase one of the best yogurt makers in the market to simplify the process of making yogurt at home. Many of these products also come with their own recipes on how to make yogurt.
If you already have an oven at home, then you might not need to purchase a yogurt maker. Be mindful of the correct temperature settings of your oven as well as the length of incubation. This will help ensure the best yogurt you can serve to your loved ones. If you are not sure about these settings or prefer a more hassle-free way of making homemade yogurt, then a yogurt maker is for you.
Choose the Milk to Use for Your Yogurt
The main ingredient in how to make homemade yogurt is milk. This is all a matter of preference, although whole milk is best. You can also use reduced-fat milk or skim milk if you are concerned about the fat content of whole milk. Using whole milk or reduced-fat milk can give you a richer and creamier yogurt.
When choosing milk, it is best to go with raw milk. This is the best when it comes to making yogurt. It has not been subjected to homogenization and pasteurization. It gives you the assurance that all the goodness of milk will be conveyed to your yogurt.
However, it is not easy to source high-quality raw milk. Your next best option is to use locally-produced fresh milk. Make sure that the product has undergone a very low pasteurization process. Local milk producers low-pasteurize their products to help kill some bacteria. It is also important that the milk is not homogenized. One way you can check for non-homogenized milk is that there is a presence of a creamy layer on top of the milk.
Cow’s milk is fine. Goat’s milk is okay, too.
Choose a Yogurt
You will need a premade yogurt to start the process of how to make yogurt from scratch. It contains live microorganisms that are important in turning milk into yogurt. You will rely on the enzymatic properties of these microorganisms to create a delicious homemade yogurt.
Make sure to read the label. Check that the premade yogurt contains “live active cultures”. There are hundreds of bacterial cultures that yogurt manufacturers can put into their formulations. Some of the more common live cultures include Lactobacillus Bulgaricus, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Lactobacillus Casei, Bifidus, and Streptococcus Thermophilus. If the ingredient list of the yogurt contains microorganisms other than the ones we mentioned, you can do research on them to learn more about what you are including in your homemade yogurt.
Most people use regular yogurt. You can also use Greek yogurt if you want. Whatever type you use, make sure to use only plain, unflavored varieties.
Consider Adding Other Ingredients
There are those who want a thicker yogurt. As such, they add gelatin or dry milk powder into the mixture. This will give them a more jellylike consistency of the yogurt. Others will try to pour the milk through a very fine sieve in an effort to create a denser style of yogurt. This is almost similar to Greek yogurt.
Heat the Milk
The first step in how to prepare yogurt is the heating of the milk. Pour about half a gallon of milk in a Dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed pot. Put it on your stove and heat the milk over medium heat. Get a thermometer and dip it into the milk. You have to watch the thermometer so that the temperature of the milk will not go beyond 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
A better solution will be to use a digital thermometer. Choose one that has an alarm once it has reached the predetermined temperature reading. At the very least, you will not have to stay in front of the pot waiting for the thermometer to reach the ideal temperature. This is one of the key steps in making yogurt.
Heating the milk will change the molecular structure of milk proteins. It gives your yogurt a thicker consistency. Also, you get to kill certain microorganisms that are vulnerable to low heat. You get to leave only the good ones behind.
Allow the Milk to Cool
Turn off the stove and let the pasteurized milk cool down to about 112 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. You can do this by letting the pot or Dutch oven sit on the stove or on your countertop. Make sure to open the lid a little bit to facilitate the cooling down process. Do not remove the lid. Doing so can introduce dirt and other particles into your milk.
You can also place the pot in an ice water bath. This will hasten the process of cooling the milk down. However, you have to pay attention to the temperature. It can drop very fast and ruin your chances of getting the best yogurt for the family.
Add the “Live Culture”
Once the pasteurized milk has reached the ideal 115°F temperature, you can scoop a cup of the warmed milk. Pour this into a bowl. Get half a cup of your live active culture-containing premade yogurt and add this to the bowl with the warm milk. Whisk well. Make sure that there are no lumps in the solution before you add this to the rest of the warm milk.
Pour the yogurt-milk solution into the warm milk in the pot or Dutch oven in a gentle manner. Whisk it gently, too. This step introduces the yogurt live active culture into the milk. It also initiates the process of making more healthy bacteria in the yogurt.
Incubate the Milk-Yogurt Solution
You can pour the solution into sterilized bottles with airtight lids. This is perfect for those who want to enjoy yogurt in small single-serve sizes than getting portions from the Dutch oven. You can also ditch the bottle method and incubate the solution in the Dutch oven itself.
Place the covered Dutch oven or pot in your convection oven. Check the wattage of your oven light bulb. If it is 40 to 60 watts, then that should be enough. You want to maintain the ideal 115-degree Fahrenheit temperature of the milk. That is why a yogurt maker or a dehydrator works best in these circumstances. Using either of these devices can help you make yogurt at home a lot easier.
Check the temperature from time to time. If the temperature drops below 110 °F, you may have to turn on the light bulb of the oven again.
Incubate the milk for about 4 hours or longer. Most people leave it untouched for 8 hours overnight. There are also those who incubate the yogurt for up to 24 hours for a tangier flavor. The length of incubation is proportional to the thickness of the yogurt. Avoid stirring the mixture or jostling the pot during the incubation period.
Cool Down the Yogurt
Remove the Dutch oven from your convection oven. Check if there is watery whey on the yogurt’s surface. If there is, you can slowly drain this off. An alternative is to gently whisk the whey into the yogurt. Whisking has an added benefit of creating a more consistent creaminess in the yogurt.
Transfer the yogurt into storage containers. Make sure to cover them and put them in the refrigerator. You can consume this homemade yogurt for about 2 weeks.
Making a yummy and creamy yogurt at home is easy. One just needs to have the patience to do it.
- How to Make Yogurt at Home – Taste of Home