I don’t know in the US, but here in Canada I have never been able to find a yogurt with the ingredients: Whole milk, bacterial culture. Even supposedly whole milk yogurt is made with a combination of cream and skim milk…..dafuq? And almost all yogurts–organic or conventional–are notorious for having powdered skim milk added as a thickener. There is a bit of controversy surrounding skim milk powder about whether or not it is healthy, but personally I just avoid it because it is a highly processed food and not what I would call “real food”.
Fortunately, whole milk yogurt is a cinch to make, inexpensive and far more delicious than store-bought varieties. Some people like eating ice cream straight from the tub but you can frequently find me going to town on the whole milk yogurt straight from the mason jar. I don’t even like adding honey or fruit–just the plain yogurt please! Its creamy and rich and really satisfying.
Yogurt is a great food for gut health. Filled with good probiotics to aid digestion, and fat and protein to keep you satiated, its the perfect snack!
In this recipe I recommend using low-temp pasteurized whole organic milk. You could use raw milk, although I wouldn’t recommended it since you will be boiling the milk anyway. You can also substitute pasteurized, store bought whole homogenized milk or 2% milk. I have not tried with skim or 1%, so substitute at your own risk and know that it will not be anywhere near as thick and creamy. Ultra-pasteurized milk will not work in this recipe.
Plain Whole Milk Yogurt
- 5 cups fresh whole milk
- 1/4 cup store bought plain yogurt–I use Astro Balkan Style Plain (NOT greek)
- Pour your milk into a 2 quart saucepan (or wherever it fits really) and heat over medium heat until it comes to a light boil. This is not a time to cover the pot and go check your email–your milk will boil over and spill all over the stove, thus causing a stream of less than ideal words to come from your mouth. Not that I would know or anything. You really want the milk to come to a boil here, simply warming it won’t create the ideal sterile environment for the probiotics to thrive and produce that thick, creamy yogurt that we’re going for here.
- After the milk has boiled, remove from the heat and wait for it to cool slightly. If you have a thermometer, wait to the milk reaches 110 degrees F. I don’t have one nor have I ever used one to make yogurt, nor has my grandmother who has been making yogurt for several years. The trick I have learned is to let the milk cool slightly and then place a drop on the inside of your wrist; when it feels comfortably warm (not scalding), you are ready for the next step.
- Once your milk has reached the ideal temperature, remove about a cup of the milk and dissolve your yogurt starter in the cup of milk you just removed. If you mind the “skin” of the milk, simply remove and discard. I always leave it in and it gives the yogurt a bit of “texture” but if you aren’t a texture junkie like me you’ll want to leave it out.
- Stir the dissolved yogurt back into the pot, ensuring that no clumps remain.
- Begin ladling your yogurt into mason jars, leaving about an inch of space from the lid. You can also use a ceramic crock to ferment your yogurt (or even a Corningware dish).
- Now you’ll need to find a warm place for your yogurt to ferment. My favorite method is using my oven set at 100F and letting the yogurt culture overnight. It is the ideal temperature for the yogurt to culture and if you can get your oven or dehydrator that low, I highly recommend you use that method. You can also store it in a cabinet in a warm spot in your kitchen that is about 100F or you can use Frugal Farm Wife’s method of filling a cooler with hot tap water and letting it incubate for 4-6 hours. The longer you let your yogurt culture, the thicker and more tart it will be but don’t leave it more than 24 hours or it will go bad. My personal preference is between 8-14 hours. As soon as you put your milk to culture, don’t disturb it for a good 7 hours at the minimum. Seriously, it won’t properly culture otherwise. NOW you can check your email.
- When the yogurt is cultured to your preference (if it is your first time, check it after 7 hours and if you think you’d like it more tart, just cover it and let it go a few more hours), refrigerate it and then do whatever the heck you do with yogurt. Eat it with a spoon like I do (although that is more of an acquired taste) or add some honey or berries. Add it to a smoothie or use it on your baked potato instead of sour cream, the possibilities are endless.
Two more days to the weekend!