My family eats a large quantity of yogurt – my estimate, about a 32 ounce tub and a half each week. What inspired me to learn how to make it myself was, not so much the cost, but my dismay with tossing all those tubs into recycling. I’d love to decrease the overall waste that goes out of our house – to the landfill or to the recycling plant regardless. I don’t have upcycling projects for the tubs, so I’d just as soon not buy them.
One day, I saw this cute-as-can-be vintage yogurt maker at a yard sale. So, although making yogurt without a machine doesn’t seem all the hard, I had been procrastinating. But with this $3 beauty in my possession, I made a batch right away. It was surprisingly easy.
You can buy simple yogurt makers like this one new for about $25. All they do is keep the yogurt at a uniform temperature. The little dial on top really does nothing at all. You can buy fancier versions for $200 (to make 1 quart) that have features like auto-timers and auto turn-off.
The instructions I followed to make yogurt with the electric machine came mainly from the following Web sites:
Sterilize the glasses. Put the glasses in the dishwasher on a hot rinse and dry cycle.
Scald the milk. To fill all six of my cups, I poured a quart of milk in a large pot and put the heat on medium. (I had estimated that each cup in the machine is about 8 ounces and 50 ounces is a little over a quart.) I used a candy thermometer to watch the temperature rise to 180 degrees. It’s okay that the sides are bubbly and the milk seems on the verge of boiling. You’re scalding it in order to destroy bacteria that would compete with the bacteria in the yogurt culture. When it reached 180, I let it stay at that temperature (more or less) for about 10 minutes. But don’t let it boil if you can help it, or else the yogurt will end up grainy.
Cool the milk down again. I put the pan in the sink with cold water and ice cubes so the milk would then cool back to 120 degrees.
Stir in the yogurt culture. I took about a cup of scalded milk from the pot in the sink and mixed in about 2 tablespoons of the store-bought yogurt. I had bought store-bought yogurt with live cultures (probiotics). You could also buy a powdered starter.
Stir cultured milk into scalded milk. I added the cultured mixture back to the original pot and let Ana stir the mixture well with a whisk.
Fill the cups in the machine. I poured the cultured milk mixture into the cups.
Incubate the milk. I put the cover on the machine, plugged it in, and based on the instructions I had found online, advised my family not to move or touch it. If you move it, it won’t thicken.
The yogurt should stay in the machine to incubate for at least 8 hours. The electric machine maintains the temperature at between 110 and 120 degrees. Longer is fine but the yogurt may get more tart with time. I left it from 5 p.m. to about 7 a.m. When I took a cup from the machine, it was firm. I was so happy since the machine never felt hot to the touch, so I thought maybe it was a dud.
Let the yogurt cool. I put the cups into the frig to cool.
Add flavors. When the yogurt has cooled, you can add flavors and such – granola, honey, whatever suits your fancy. Ana added raspberries and some slivered almonds to her cup. And….(drumroll)….my discerning little taste-tester gave very favorable reviews! I tasted some of the plain yogurt and loved it too.
It was tart, but not any more tart than store-bought plain yogurt usually is. It wasn’t as creamy as greek yogurt, but there are ways to make it more creamy. If you add evaporated milk, I’m told you will increase the butter fat and protein and result in a more rich yogurt. Either way, we love it!
Now, if it weren’t for the power outage last week, I’d have a bit of the handmade batch to use as starter for the next batch. I had to toss it. I’ll start again with store-bought yogurt and make many more delicious single servings.