Saturday, July 17, 2021

Homemade Yogurt

 My friend at Chez Bung told me how easy it is to make yogurt.  As I have yogurt every day, we buy the big containers. I decided to give it a try and was thrilled how it turned out!

I followed the Chez Bung process with some slight changes.  The first couple batches I did not use powdered milk. I still sometimes forget it. It turn out great.

At first, I drained the whey (excess watery stuff) from the finished yogurt to make it thicker and more Greek Yogurty (it's a fine word). Using powdered milk lessens the need to drain the whey but I often do anyway just to make it thicker.

There are only three steps to making yogurt. Five if you choose to drain it. It really is only two ingredients. Three if you add powdered milk. Adding powdered milk increases the yield and a very small cost.

Note:  At the bottom of this I describe the batches that were not perfect as well as other information about homemade yogurt.

What do you need to make yogurt at home? I make 1/2 gallon at a time. This is what I use. Find what works best for you.

1. Two Bowls the same size
2. Heating Pad (I use medium heat setting)
3. 3 Quart Pot
4. Range or Inductive Burner (shown)
5. Refrigerator

These are the ingredients I use. You can use whole or reduced fat milk.

1. 1/2 Gallon 2% Pasteurized Milk
2. 1 Cup Powdered Milk
3. 1/2 Cup Yogurt With Active Culture/Probiotics (good sounding word for bacteria). Fresh from the store or from your previous batch of homemade yogurt.

Three Simple Steps To  Make Yogurt:
1. Heat 1/2 Gallon Milk To 180F, hold 10-20 minutes, cool to 115F
2. Add Yogurt
3. Keep Around 115F overnight

Now that is it done, cover and put it in the refrigerator. It'll take a few hours to fully chill. Once it is chilled, you can start eating it. you can have it warm too but that sounds weird. Buy hey, you do you!

At this point, I often strain the excess whey (it is a soury liquid full of probiotics). I sometimes use the whey as a starter for the next batch but find it can get a bit sour. I will dump in in my garden or just down the drain. Some folks make other fermented foods like Sauerkraut or Pickles with it.

To drain, I use a fine mesh stainless steel kitchen strainer.  I've tried cheese cloth but that has been unnecessary.  Simply spoon the yogurt into the mesh strainer and let gravity draw the excess whey from the yogurt.  Then place in a container and cover then back into the fridge.

Heat Milk 180F shown

Cover and Cool to 115F

Cool Baby Cool

Heating Pad in a Pyrex Bowl on a trivet to protect the antique sideboard

Milk at 115F with Yogurt starter in a bowl on top of the heating pad (set to medium)

Cover to with a lid

Chilled, Ready to strain

Straining in fine mesh stainless strainer

Strained and in a bowl. back to the fridge.

Serving with Keto Granola and Chia Seeds

What Issues have I had making yogurt and more info on homemade yogurt.

Not heating to 180F tends to make thinner yogurt due to the lack of protein coagulation that occurs at 180F.  Sometimes it is runny. So, to help ensure thicker, less runny yogurt, heat to 180F and hold 10 minutes or 20 for thicker milk.

Speaking of 180F, it is not technically needed to heat pasteurized milk to 180F.  It is also not technically necessary to keep it refrigerated.  However keeping milk below 40F slows the rate of growth of any bacteria that may have snuck into the milk.  Heating to 180F for 10 minutes kills (denatures) them. 

Fermenting too long.  Yeah, keeping at it 115F and letting bacterial consume sugars (lactose) and create lactic acid (sour) is fermenting. Avoid fermenting longer than 8-12 hours. It may only take 2 or 4 or 6.  You can test the thickness and taste for sour level and just stop it there and put it in the refrigerator to cool and set. Fermenting too long allows the bacterial to break down more structure and create thinner, more sour yogurt.

A lot of whey. Before using dry powdered milk, I would have a lot of whey.  I drained it off and have a nice thick greek style yogurt. I also lost 20% - 25% of the potential yield.  So, I add dry milk now and yield nearly 100% of the 1/2 gallon I started with (I strain out about 1/2 cup of whey).

What % fat milk should you use?  I have used full fat, 3%, and 2% milk.  I only use 2% pasteurized milk.  It makes great yogurt and is low fat.  Full fat was pretty creamy but way more calories.  There was no discernable difference between 2% and 3% milk. 

It is too sour! A couple times I used just the whey from the precious batch and it came out much more sour. I was able to blend two batches to mellow it out.  I suggest buying a small fresh yogurt and adding that.  Reusing yogurt from previous batches can make it too sour too.  So, use some new, fresh yogurt every batch to ensure a good healthy, balanced culture.

I do reuse yogurt from my precious batch as a culture for the next batch.  It depends how tart the batch is.  If it is good, I will reused the yogurt for the next batch.  I don't reuse more than 3 times as it can easily get too sour.

Homemade yogurt lasts about 3 weeks in the refrigerator and kept below 40F. I don't have to worry about that. We consume at least 1/2 gallon a week.

Yield? A typical Fage is 5-6 ounce cup.  1/2 gallon of milk is 64 ounces.  Assuming I don't strain and make all 64 ounces of yogurt, that's 10 - 13 servings depending on your serving size.  

Does making homemade yogurt same money? Yes.  Assuming you are not counting the heating cost not the refrigeration cost nor you personal labor cost, it will run you about 5$-6$ per 1/2 gallon.  

Increasing the batch size will save even more money. But you need to consume it within 3 weeks or if it goes "bad".  I have made a gallon at a time but it was just too unwieldy. Mostly because the Pyrex bowls I use hold a gallon and that is so easy to spill.  If I get a bigger bowl, I will probably go to 1 gallon batches again.

How do you know what a batch of yogurt is bad?  First, if there is anything growing on it, toss it. Be safe. It isn't worth it.  If it smells bad, then is is bad.  Toss it.  

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