RECIPE: Homemade Yogurt

Here it is. The yogurt post I’ve been promising.

What took me so long? Ummm…. failure. Yep. I said it. I failed at yogurt making. How pathetically sad, right?

Yog10

Why did I want to make my own yogurt? Because most commercial yogurts are loaded with bad stuff (there are a few good ones, like my favorite, Noosa), so, like I did with cream cheese, I decided to start making my own, but… I’m beginning to think yogurt making may not be the best hobby for me right now. Why? The time required to do it! Not actual prep time, but the monitoring time.

yog9

Or… maybe I’m just trying the wrong technique. Yeah. I think that’s really the problem.

Rather than starting a yogurt from a commercial yogurt (the easiest way), I decided to instead grow my own mother culture using raw milk instead of pasteurized (the hardest way). I’m now learning (after the fact), that wasn’t a smart choice for someone new to yogurt making. But… no use cryin’ over spilt (very expensive raw) milk. What’s done is done. Yes, I’ve wasted both packets of starter culture–dang it!–but I’m certainly learning along the way, right?

yog9

There are several different types of yogurt cultures available from Cultures for Health that cultivate at different temperatures and will have different consistencies. The Bulgarian starter seemed the best fit for me since it was described as a thicker, creamier yogurt, plus, I liked that it’s a perpetual starter, that basically, if I kept my mother culture alive, I could make yogurt for years from that same culture… as long as I didn’t kill it. Ahem. Who would do that? Certainly not me. No.yog4

Yogurt success stories abound on the internet, so why am I failing? I don’t usually fail at things! Why is raw milk yogurt a tough yogurt to do? Anyone who can shed some light, please do.

I do know these two problems exist for me.

First of all, when using raw milk, a new mother culture needs to be grown every seven days (you can’t make yogurt from your existing yogurt like many yogurt techniques… it must be made from the mother culture). You use your old mother culture to start the new mother culture, but that makes a weekly chore, not even to make yogurt, but to keep your culture going.

Secondly, I don’t have a yogurt incubator, so trying to find a way to get the culture to maintain 110 degrees has been a challenge, and temperature is very important to maintain raw status. The oven on warm is too warm, room temp too cold. What worked best was the crockpot on warm, lined with potholders (without them it gets too hot). I made a little nest in the crock pot and regularly checked the temperature . yog2
110 degrees is what the culture wants. Too hot, and the culture will die (what I did on my first attempt). Even with all my nesting, the temperature often crept up to 120, so I’d layer in more potholders or take the towel off the top for a bit. Yog1
And here’s the really challenging part when you work full time: It takes anywhere from 5 to 12 hours for the culture to form, and after 5 hours, it needs to be checked frequently so it doesn’t over culture. As soon as the yogurt doesn’t run up the sides, you take it off the heat to cool for two hours, and then refrigerate for six hours to stop the culturing. The first time, even after 8 hours, it still hadn’t set, and it was near midnight, so I went to bed, got up the next morning to check it, and it had totally separated into curds and whey… not a good thing. yog3
My next try, I started first thing in the morning, and it took about ten hours before it seemed to be set (although it did have a little whey separation). It SEEMED like this culture came out okay, but how do I know?

By trying to make yogurt I reckon. Yes, after all of this, I still didn’t have yogurt. It’s basically the exact same process: heat the milk, add a little of the mother culture, and incubate for 5 to 7 hours.

So… I tried it today, and here we are, nearly twelve hours later, and it still hasn’t thickened.

Verdict? I’m giving up trying to do the raw milk thing and just go the easier route… maybe even making my yogurt from an existing yogurt. Someday, though, SOMEDAY, I’ll make it happen. I don’t take kindly to getting my butt kicked by anything, especially something as benign as yogurt, so be lookin’ over your shoulder, raw milk yogurt, ’cause you never know when, you never know where… I’m going get you.

Until next time when I share the week’s lunch successes…

Later gators

One Response to “RECIPE: Homemade Yogurt

  • Do you remember years ago I used to make yogurt with a yogurt maker? I worked pretty well!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *