Growing up, we almost never bought yogurt from the store. Every weekend, my mom made a big batch of yogurt to last us the rest of the week. We used it on everything; with fruit, on top of warm rice (my favorite!), in smoothies…I mean everything!
Not only is making homemade yogurt more cost-effective (especially if you’re using organic ingredients!), it tastes better, has less additives, and can be customized to your tastes.
The recipe I use now is a little different from my mom’s recipe. In her efforts to fatten us up as little kids (every Arab mother’s life goal, LOL), she added a good helping of half-n-half and whipping cream to her mix. Now, don’t get me wrong, those two extras make for the yummiest, creamiest yogurt you will ever taste! But we’re not getting any younger, and our bodies just will not bounce back from all of that extra fat content – well, they’ll bounce, just not in the good way.
Mom’s yogurt has become a once-in-a-while (read whenever I visit her) indulgence, but for our weekly yogurt batch, I keep it simple and low-fat. Here’s our super-easy, fail-proof yogurt culturing method.
You’ll start out with some milk and yogurt. You only need to buy yogurt for the first batch; after that, you will reserve some of your homemade yogurt to use for the next batch. You can use any fat content for the milk and yogurt; of course, the higher the fat content, the thicker and creamier the end result will be. So I don’t skimp on this; I usually use at least 2% (if not whole) milk, and full-fat yogurt (with active cultures!) as my starter. My mom always takes out her yogurt and leaves it on the counter to warm up to room temperature, so I’ve just always done that. If you forget, I don’t think it’s a big deal. The recipe below is for a half-gallon of milk, because that’s all the yogurt Mr. Nurture and I can go through in a week, but you can simply double the ingredients if you’re doing a whole gallon.
First, you want to create a warm resting place for your yogurt, so I turn on my oven to ‘warm’ while I do the rest of the steps. If you don’t have a warm setting, just turn it on the lowest temperature for about 15 minutes to warm it up. You want the temperature to be around 115 degrees. Once it’s warmed up, turn off the oven.
Next, you’ll want to prepare your jars for storing the yogurt. Ideally, they will be sterilized glass jars. You want to stay away from plastic, especially since you’ll be pouring the hot milk/yogurt mixture into them. I just use old honey jars, jelly jars, salsa jars, etc. Place them on a tray for easier transferring to the oven later.
Then, you’ll add your milk (and cream, if using!) to a big stock pot, and bring it to just under a boil (around 185 degrees). Right when you start to see little bubbles on the top (forgot to take a picture, sorry!), remove the pot from the heat, and let it cool to around 115 degrees. If you have a thermometer, use that. If not, just do it the old-fashioned way and test with your hands: It’s ready when you can comfortably place your hand on the side of the pot (or dip your clean finger into the milk) for at least 10 seconds.
Once it’s cooled down, get ready to work quickly. Put your yogurt starter into a bowl or a 2-cup measuring cup. Then, scoop out a few ladle-fulls of the warm milk and add them to the yogurt. Whisk it to combine, then add the mixture back into the pot with the rest of the warm milk.
Stir it gently 2-3 times (no more than that!) to make sure it’s all mixed well, then pour (or ladle) the milk/yogurt mixture into your prepared jars. You can also just leave it all in the pot, but I don’t recommend that since you’ll have to transfer it to jars later anyways.
Now, carefully move the tray of jars into the oven, making sure not to agitate or jostle them too much. Turn the oven light on, and set the oven timer for 4 hours.
After 4 hours have passed, the yogurt should be nice and solid. You can taste it at this point to see if you like it. If it’s not tart enough for you, put it back in the oven, and check on it again in another hour or 2. Once it’s reached your desired taste, remove the jars from the oven, and let them rest on the counter until they’ve cooled to room temperature. Then cover the jars and store in the fridge, where they’ll keep for about a week, although I’ve kept mine for up to 10 days without issue.
The pictures below are from my yogurt batch after it’s been refrigerated. See how thick it is, just like regular yogurt? It even leaves a layer of whey at the top, just like the store-bought kind. You can either dump this out (don’t do that – it’s sooo good for you!) or you can just stir it right back in, like I do. Or if you want a thicker, creamier yogurt, you can strain out the whey. For an even more delectably creamy spread, check out my post on Labna (Arab Cream Cheese), which is just yogurt, strained overnight in the fridge.
Enjoy with your favorite mix-ins!
VERY IMPORTANT: Don’t forget! Make sure to keep some of your batch to use as the starter for your next batch! I just keep it in a small container in the back of the fridge so nobody eats it on accident!
This is just one method for making homemade yogurt. There’s so many more variations online! Here are a few that caught my eye:
Alright, I’ve included an easy to use, and printable recipe below so you don’t have to read through all of that again. Have you made your own yogurt before? If not, would you consider it? What other dairy products do you like to make, or would you like to see featured here on Nature’s Nurture?
|Easy Homemade Yogurt||
- 1/2 gallon milk
- 1/2 cup yogurt (with active cultures)
- Clean glass jars
- Thermometer (optional)
- Warm up the oven either on ‘warm’ or the lowest setting for about 15 mins. then turn off.
- Place clean glass jars on a tray.
- Add milk to a stock pot and cook on high heat until just under a boil. When you see little bubbles on the surface, remove from the heat.
- Let milk cool to about 115 degrees (on thermometer) or until you can comfortably place your hand on the side of the pot (or dip your clean finger into the milk) for at least 10 seconds.
- Once it’s cooled down, put yogurt into a bowl. Scoop out a few ladle-fulls of warm milk and add to yogurt. Whisk to combine, then add the mixture back into pot with the rest of the milk.
- Stir gently 2-3 times (no more than that!) to make sure it’s all mixed well, then pour (or ladle) the milk/yogurt mixture into prepared jars.
- Carefully move the tray of jars into the oven, making sure not to agitate or jostle them too much. Turn oven light on (very important!), and set the timer for 4 hours.
- Remove jars from oven, and rest them on the counter until they’ve cooled to room temperature. Then, cover the jars and store in the fridge, where they’ll keep for about a week, and up to 10 days.
Are you on Pinterest? Oh my goodness, I’m addicted to Pinterest. I just love it – it’s my refuge into my own little world on the web. And it’s become the main source of inspiration for this blog! One of my Pinterest boards is called “Things to Try (…and blog)” and that’s where I’m collecting ideas for future blogs. So I always get excited when I get to check something off of my list, like today’s post about making homemade ice cream!
The weather is warming up, Spring has sprung, and everyone is a little cheerier, now that the winter slump is behind us. So of course I jumped at the first opportunity to try to make some homemade ice cream…and it was so easy and kind of fun! I found this post on Pinterest, and apparently the original idea came from a family magazine. Making homemade ice cream is almost as exciting as making butter in a glass jar – maybe even more
Of course, this is still ice cream we’re talking about here; so just because it’s homemade, doesn’t mean we can eat it every night of the week. But it’s great to know that we’re only a few easy steps away from whipping up a quick batch when we’re in the mood for a treat
What You Need:
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup half & half (or light cream)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup coarse salt or table salt
- gallon-sized Ziploc bag
- pint-sized Ziploc bag (sandwhich size)
What To Do:
- Mix the sugar, half & half and vanilla extract together. Pour into a pint-sized Ziploc baggie and seal it tightly. I just placed the bag into a measuring cup to make it easier to handle.
- Fill up the gallon-sized Ziploc bag halfway with ice and pour the salt over the ice.
- Place the cream filled bag into the ice filled bag and seal.
- Make sure it is sealed tightly and start shaking. Shake for about 5-8 minutes. Open the gallon-sized bag and check to see if the ice cream is hard, if not keep shaking. Once the ice cream is finished, quickly run the closed pint-sized baggie under cold water to clean the salt off the baggie.
- Serve immediately and enjoy the fruits of your labour!
Hope you enjoy this as much as we did!
I love yogurt and I really love cheese – so it’s no wonder that one of my favorite go-to breakfast ingredients is Labnah (or Arab Cream Cheese). It’s kind of like a cream cheese but with the distinct sour note of yogurt. It’s great as a topping on breads and bagels, used instead of mayo on your sandwiches, or as a tasty dip with toasted pita bread.
It’s SO easy to make and way tastier than the store-bought kind, which can also be a little pricey! Like seriously, it’s way too easy to make!
What You Need:
- 1 quart of your favorite organic yogurt
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Straining cloth (ie: a few layers of cheesecloth, or I just use a men’s undershirt)
- Bowl or Pot to hold the colander
- Small container with lid
- Olive Oil
What To Do:
- Mix the salt into the yogurt and stir it very well
- Layer the rest of the items like this: Bowl/Pot – Colander – Straining Cloth (Make sure there’s enough room between the bowl and colander for the liquid to collect
- Pour the mixed yogurt into the straining cloth, making sure it all stays in the cloth
- Cover the yogurt. Either tie the straining cloth or just fold it over, making sure all the yogurt is covered
- Put it in the fridge overnight. I like to keep it for at least 24 hours, but the longer you keep it in there, the thicker it will be.
- Take it out of the fridge and uncover to reveal your fresh, creamy batch of Labnah!
- Scoop out your labna and put it in the container and drizzle some olive oil over the top to help preserve it.
- When you lift the colander, you’ll find a clear liquid in the bottom – this is the whey that separated from the yogurt (Ahh, so that’swhat the Ms. Muffet rhyme was all about!). Do not throw this away! It’s packed with nutrients and can be used in place of milk/water in recipes for biscuits, breads, soups and rice!
Til next time,
This was so unbelievably easy that I feel so stupid for buying butter from the store all these years! Not only that, but making butter has inspired me to try making all kinds of other dairy products, so stay tuned for those posts!
This all started because during my last grocery shopping trip, I decided to start buying organic butter – our milk and yogurt are the only dairy that’s organic so far – but when I saw the price of organic butter, I had a mini-heart attack and thought, hey we don’t really need butter anyways! That is until I picked up a fresh loaf of dark rye bread and really, really wanted to top it with some… you guessed it, butter!
So here’s what you need:
- A tall glass jar with a lid
- Heavy whipping cream – at room temperature
(You don’t really need the measuring cup, so disregard that )
What to do:
- Fill the glass jar about halfway with whipping cream and cover it with the lid, nice and tight.
- Now comes the fun part – you just shake! …and shake, and shake, and shake! This is a workout so roll up your sleeves, turn on some music, and get to it!
EDIT: Be careful not to shake too vigorously, otherwise you’ll end up making butter and then turning it back into cream! You want to jolt/whip it back and forth on a 1-2 count, instead of shaking it like a bottle of juice/milk.
- After about 1 minute, it will turn into whipped cream and seem impossible to shake because it’s so thick. (Sorry, forgot to take a picture, but you’ll know when it happens because it will feel like nothing is happening anymore.)
- Before you know it, it will become shakable again, so keep shaking! Here’s what it looks like after about 2 minutes. Seeing this was motivation enough to keep going.
- After 5 minutes, it looks like this – see that big glob? That’s the butter!
- After 7-10 minutes, you can take a break, open the jar and slowly pour out the liquid that’s in the jar. Keep it in a bowl to use in recipes – you just made buttermilk!
- Keep shaking and emptying the liquid until no more comes out. It’s about 10-15 minutes total shaking time, depending on how fast/hard you shake.
- Open the jar and fill it with water to cover the butter. Swirl it around a bit to rinse off the remaining buttermilk from the butter and pour out the water into the sink.
- Put the butter into a bowl and whip it around a bit with a fork to get out all the remaining liquid, then dump the liquid. Try to get out as much as you can, so your butter keeps in the fridge longer.
EDIT: After making it a few times, I’ve just stopped whipping it with the fork and it comes out fine. I just make sure to keep swirling and rinsing it off (step 8) until the water runs clear. And make sure to drain as much of the liquid as you can!
- That’s it! Just put it into an air-tight container and pop it in the fridge to chill. If you want to flavor your butter with salt, herbs, etc. now is the time to do so.
See? That wasn’t so hard, was it? I’m so excited to start making all kinds of different dairy products, butter is just the beginning! I think sour cream is next on my list, which is perfect because I need buttermilk to make that
P.S. Yes, your children/spouse/family will look at you like you’re crazy, dancing around the kitchen, shaking a glass jar, but ask them to join in – it’s a great little science experiment!
Til next time,