Success! After making yogurt for the first time recently, I learned what system doesn’t work for me. This time I followed the instructions from the book Yogurt Culture by Cheryl Sternman Rule. And I’m still excited about the results, several days later.
- Rub an ice cube along the bottom of warming Dutch oven. Pour in 1/2 gallon whole milk (just regular Kroger brand milk) and heat to 180° over medium-high heat without stirring. Once at 180° turn heat down and maintain temperature for 5 min. This process took me about 20 minutes.
- Heat oven to 200° for 2 min., bringing it to 110°, then turn off and turn on proofing function. Note: this was too long and the oven got too hot and I needed to let it cool some. Next time turn oven off sooner.
- Cool milk to 115° by stirring gently. This took about 40 min.
- Whisk 2 tbsp yogurt (I used Maple Hill Creamery plain yogurt) with 1 cup of the 115° milk. Add back to pot, stir gently, and cover.
- Place in oven, with proofing function on. After 4 hours, I turned this off because the Dutch oven had retained enough heat to keep the oven warm. Incubated for a total of 6 hr 40 min.
- Remove 1/4 c for next batch and freeze in a small jam jar.
- Transfer yogurt into two 1-quart mason jars, cover, and refrigerate. I didn’t stir my yogurt before putting it into the containers — I just spooned it in gently, and there was a little bit of whey on top. Let rest in refrigerator until next morning.
Greek style: I was going to leave both quart jars of yogurt at their regular consistency, but the next morning I got inspired to take one jar and strain it to make Greek style yogurt.
I placed my fine mesh strainer over a mixing bowl (the small bowl in this nesting set), and layered two paper towels inside. Then I poured one of the jars of regular yogurt into the paper towel-lined strainer, folded the paper towels over the top, and refrigerated the entire thing for 3 hours.
After 3 hours it was perfectly thickened. It yielded about 1/2 quart Greek yogurt and a scant 1 1/2 cups whey.
It was so thrilling to pull the pot out of the oven and see it had set up properly. I really liked the method of keeping it in the Dutch oven instead of pouring the cooled milk into jars right away because the cast iron helped keep the yogurt cozy during incubation.
Seeing the wonderfully-textured, creamy, white yogurt filling up my quart-sized mason jars made me giddy. This batch tasted just like the store-bought yogurt I’m used to. I think the Greek style is even more delicious and mellow somehow. I can’t wait to make more!
In addition to the pleasure of making this myself, I’m enjoying the cost savings. Milk was on sale for $1/half gallon, which was nice. The little 6-oz container of plain yogurt for my starter was about $1.30, but I spent more there to get the high quality ingredients. My hope is that by starting with a finer starter, it will yield a finer yogurt in my kitchen.
So for about $2.30, I made just under 2 quarts of yogurt (equal to about 60 oz, or 7 1/2 c), at a cost of $.04/oz. Of course once I made it Greek style, that cost was effectively doubled, BUT I was left with the whey as a byproduct to cook with as well. So there wasn’t any waste, and it gave me a chance to make something else that called for buttermilk.
The only thing I’d do differently next time would be to only turn the oven on for a few seconds to give it a slight warming boost, because the Dutch oven will be warm when it goes in. I’ll still turn on the proofing function to help keep it at the same temperature.
HOMEMADE YOGURT POSTS
- Homemade yogurt, take 5 - Everything worked great this time -- this is the process I'll try to keep replicating.
- Homemade yogurt, take 4 - It basically worked, but incubation was too short and flavor was too mild
- Homemade yogurt, take 3 - The incubation period was too long or warm, resulting in a yogurt that's not smooth but otherwise tasty
- Homemade yogurt, take 2 - Different method, fantastic results
- Homemade yogurt, take 1 - Didn't thicken up properly, but still usable as a substitute for buttermilk