what you’ll need:
- one gallon pasteurized whole milk (not ultra pasteurized–this is important! this usually rules out an organic milk, unfortunately.)
- 1 cup of plain (or vanilla) yogurt–this is your starter culture and it doesn’t matter which brand you use or if you eventually use your own yogurt as your starter culture
- a big pot
- a whisk
- a food thermometer of some sort
- 4 litre-sized mason jars (some people recommend sanitizing, i usually just give them a hot wash in the sink
- pour the entire gallon of milk into your pot. set your stove to low-medium heat. you want to warm the milk slowly to avoid burning it on the bottom of the pot. i’ve tried to hurry the process and ended up burning the milk and it resulted in yogurt that tasted smoky.
- stir the milk occasionally and after about 15 minutes of heating, begin testing the temperature. eventually, you want the milk to be heated to 185-190 degrees.
- while you wait for your milk to heat, you can prepare your cooler (yes, like the kind you take to tailgate, the beach, and picnics). you’ll want to fill it with 120 degree water. this will be your incubator once you fill and seal your mason jars. you’ll want to fill the cooler with enough water so that the water nearly reaches the top of the mason jars.
- also while you’re waiting, fill your sink with ice cold water.
- once your milk is heated to 185-190 degrees, move the pot of milk to a waiting sink full of cold water. stir and cool your pot of heated milk until the temperature drops to 120 degrees.
- once it reaches 120 degrees, pull the pot from the cold water bath and add a cup of yogurt. mix well.
- pour the mixture evenly into your waiting mason jars (i usually slop all over the place–that’s okay; there’s plenty and you’ll likely have enough milk left over to fill a 16-ounce mason jar). tighten the lids.
- move the jars to your cooler and close the cooler lid.
- place the cooler in location where the temperature is relatively consistent and not too cool.
- wait approximately 4 hours–the longer you wait, the thicker it gets.
- when you first pull the yogurt from the cooler, it will still be a little liquidy–kind of like a globby liquid. place it in your refrigerator overnight and let it cool. when you wake up in the morning, a delicious, thick, and creamy yogurt will be waiting for you.
the first time i made this recipe, it seemed like such a cumbersome process. but the second time i did it, i realized i could get other things done while i waited for the milk to heat. sometimes i wash dishes, this most recent time i made deodorant. try it at least twice before you write it off, trust me.
this is also a great way to reduce your grocery bill. you buy one gallon of milk and one cup of starter yogurt–usually $3-4 depending on where you shop. from that, you get one gallon (and a little extra) of yogurt that will keep in your refrigerator for up to a month. it’s a bargain and so easy. as always, comments and questions are welcome.