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Yogurt Unplugged

July 23, 2010

I love gadgets and appliances as much as the next kitchen tool junkie, but you don’t actually need any of them to make easy, delicious homemade yogurt.  If you’ve got a yogurt maker or a slow cooker, sure, bust them out and get busy.  But you don’t need them.  Really.

This yogurt-making method comes from my coworker, Heather, an Iowa mama who makes yogurt for her family twice a week.  It’s easy, virtually foolproof, and requires no investment in special appliances.  In fact, the most specialized equipment you’ll need is a thermometer (not absolutely necessary, but useful until you’re familiar with the process of heating the milk) and a large glass jar (Heather uses a pickle jar; I use a cracker jar I bought at Target for $5).  I like to use super-fresh milk from a local dairy.  Mmm.

Heather’s No-Fuss Homemade Yogurt

1 quart whole milk

2 Tbsp of your favorite, plain, store-bought yogurt as starter

YOGURT: In a heavy-bottomed pot, slowly heat the milk until it just reaches a simmer, between 180 and 190 degrees F.  Remove the milk from the heat and let it cool down to around 115 F (this usually takes 10 to 15 minutes).  In a small bowl, mix the yogurt starter with about 1/2 cup of the warm milk and whisk until smooth.  Pour the starter mixture and the rest of the warm milk into a large, clean glass jar with a lid.  Wrap a towel around the jar to hold in the heat, and let the yogurt sit for 4 to 6 hours without moving or shaking the jar.* Refrigerate to set completely.

If you like thicker yogurt (which I do), you could then pour the yogurt into a colander that has been lined with cheesecloth.  Set the colander over a bowl in the refrigerator  to drain the whey.  When the yogurt’s at the desired consistency, scoop it into a tight-lidded container and store it in the refrigerator.  You can use your own yogurt as a starter for about 10 batches.

*Alternatively, if it is a very cold day, you could heat your oven on the lowest temperature, then shut the oven off, let it cool down until it’s warm — not hot — and let the yogurt jar sit in the warm oven to gets its culture on.  I find the towel method works just fine for me.

WHEY: You can save the whey and use it for baking.

LABNEH: If you strain the yogurt long enough (12-18 hours), you will be rewarded with labneh, or “yogurt cheese,” which can be shaped into golf-ball sized balls (use wet hands) and rolled in chopped herbs and/or ground spices.  Store the labneh covered in olive oil in a tight-lidded container in the refrigerator.  It’s delicious on crackers, in sandwiches, or tossed with hot pasta.

  1. July 26, 2010 7:07 pm

    Wow–sounds dead easy! Impressive. I might have to try this. Yogurt is so expensive where I live.

  2. July 28, 2010 5:16 pm

    Thanks for the comment, Sarah. Let me know how it goes if you do try it out. (And don’t be surprised if you get hooked on your own yogurt!)

  3. Janey permalink
    April 25, 2011 11:01 pm

    Thanks for this. Have you got something for initiative too?
    I am almost certain that printing this recipe will be as close as I get to making yoghurt, even though my intentions are good at the moment.

  4. August 6, 2011 5:22 pm

    This is the simplest yogurt recipe I have seen. Am anxious to try it.


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