We eat a lot of yogurt around our house. It seemed like we eat about a quart a week, and this is expensive. I decided to try making it again. Some years ago, I made yogurt in one of those Salton yogurt makers, with little success.
When we lived in China, we got the best yogurt. It came in a grey stoneware bottle shaped similarly to the old glass milk bottles. It had a foil cap and came with a straw that was cut to a point on one end. You punctured the foil with the straw and sucked out the yogurt. Boy, was it wonderful. When I visited Dali in Yunnan Province, I had Yak milk yogurt. This was the best I had ever had.
In China, they do not add such things as pectin, or gelatin, or rennet to their yogurt. It is milk and bacillus. I thought, “I can do that!”
A couple of years ago, I watched a UTube video about making it and have modified it for myself and for better results. This is what I do:
I have a one quart, glass peanut butter jar that I have cleaned thoroughly. I have a three litre thermos that my husband used to take cold drinks to work. I purchase a one serving portion of Greek Yogurt from the grocery to get the whole process started. We like the whole milk yogurt the best so I purchase a quart of that. You can use non-fat as well if you prefer.
I put the quart, or almost the whole quart minus enough space so I can add the store bought yogurt in the container later as well. I heat the milk to lukewarm. It is important not to get it to hot or the milk will curdle and you will have a strange form of cheese. I heat the milk in the microwave in the glass peanut butter jar.
I use a freshly opened quart of milk, not one that has been previously open in the fridge. You can use a previously opened container of milk, but it must be raised to at least 180 degrees and cooled to 100 before use. If it is a fresh bottle, then you don’t need to do that step.
I put a tablespoon of sugar in the milk while it is warming. DO NOT USE HONEY at this point. Honey is a anti-bacteria agent and will kill the bacillus that you want to thicken the milk. If you want to use honey, stir it in after the yogurt process is finished. It will still kill some of the bacteria, but it has done its job by then.
To the warmed milk with sugar, add the container you purchased of fresh Greek Yogurt. Stir it thoroughly. Put on the lid.
Now for the three litre thermos. Run tap water until it is as hot as it gets. Put the yogurt jar in the thermos. Fill the insulated container with water until it just comes up to the lid. It should be as hot as you can get it.
Screw the lid on the thermos. Cover with a thick bath towel and wait for half the day. Do not move it around as the yogurt does not like to be moved while it is setting up.
Remove the thermos lid, place the yogurt jar in the refrigerator and enjoy when it is cooled. We are eating ours with the Spring Tonic mentioned in an earlier article. A little granola, a large scoop of yogurt and Spring Tonic on the top. Yum.
Next time around you don’t need to purchase the Greek Yogurt. Just save a little from the previous batch and follow the directions above. You must scoop out the remainder of the yogurt from you glass jar to add after wouldn’t set. I can repeat about eight times before I need to purchase a fresh batch of yogurt for starter. If you are really clean about it you can get more batches than that.