Yup, you heard me right-ever since Kelsey gave me this recipe, I’ve been a yogurt making machine. Okay, not really, I’ve only made it twice, but I haven’t bought a single cup of yogurt since I started. Cha-ching! It looks kind of intimidating, but it is actually not bad at all. Trust me-if I can do it so can you. I literally burnt my toast yesterday.
Anyway, here are the directions Kelsey gave me, with some of my pictures and comments added in:
First, you’ll need 2-3 tbsp yogurt containing live, active yogurt cultures. Keep out a small amount from the yogurt you make, for this purpose. You can freeze a couple tablespoons of yogurt, in case you forget to leave some when it’s time to make your next batch, which will happen. I’ve used Oikos, and I’ve used cheap, artificially flavored and sweetened Walmart yogurt. The main thing is the active yogurt culture. Put it in a small bowl/cup and let come to room temp, or thereabouts. I just set it out when I start making the yogurt.
1 gallon milk – any kind, I use 2%. Heat milk in a heavy pan to 183 degrees. This can take 20 minutes or so, on medium/medium high heat. I use a digital meat thermometer, works fine. (Dawn’s note: I use a regular needle meat thermometer, so in this case close enough is good enough. I also wrote down exactly what heat setting I used and how long it took to get there so I did not have to keep checking the temp the second time around). You have to stir often, but not constantly. Use a non-stick pan, much easier when cleaning up.
Once the milk reaches 183 degrees, remove from heat and cool pan and contents in ice & water bath (in sink) cool to 111 degrees. 5-10 minutes, usually.
Add a bit of the cooled milk to the 3 tbsp yogurt you set out before, stir a little. You are tempering the yogurt, slowly warming it up. Then dump the yogurt/milk mixture into the milk, stir to mix. Gently.
Dump the mixture into crock with lid. I use a large removable stoneware crock from my crockpot. I also warm the crock with hot water before dumping the milk in (Dawn’s note: I did not, I forgot). What you are attempting is continual warmth of the mixture at around 100 degrees, from here on.
Heat oven for 1 minute. Turn oven OFF, turn oven light ON.
Wrap lidded crock in bath towel, place in oven 12-15 hrs with light ON. Here is what mine looked like right before it went in:
Remove crock, drain/strain mixture using large colander covered with 6-8 layers cheesecloth. I use clothespins to hold the cheesecloth in place. (Dawn’s note: I ran out of cheesecloth and it was only two layers. Plus, I left it in the yogurt in the fridge draining while I was at work, so about 8 hrs. I’m not a very good recipe follower, but it worked. I rested our colander in a large pot so there was space under it to catch the liquid-see picture below).
Drain 2-3 hrs, stirring mixture off the bottom/sides of cheesecloth occasionally. Discard the liquid. Whisk the yogurt to smooth consistency. Some more of Dawn’s notes-not all of my yogurt fit into the strainer I had, so I left some out in a plain bowl:
I have handled this extra yogurt differently each time. The first time I left it in the separate bowl and mixed it in at the end, making it a little less thick. However, it also gave it a stronger taste. This time, I waited for about an hour and the yogurt in the colander had settled enough to fit the remainder in to strain as well. It made it thicker, but I liked the flavor better. You can see how much it settles here:
That’s it-you have Greek yogurt! What I have been doing it separating it out into different containers and freezing some of it-turns out yogurt freezes pretty well. I leave some plain to use in recipes that call for yogurt, or in place of sour cream. Some of it I put a little agave syrup in and a pure extract-I have developed quite the collection. The ones I have tried so far are vanilla, lemon, almond and coconut. All delicious. Just start with a few drops and add as you like. I have also added fresh fruit and granola. So stinking good.
If you try this, let me know what you think, and if you have any questions feel free to ask. PS-I have no idea where the random temperatures came from, but if you want to ask that anyway I’ll be more than happy to make something up 🙂