Homemade yogurt

Homemade yogurt would get eyebrow raises from people in Amanda Stone’s cooking class.courtesy | Amanda Stone

Who knew yogurt could be so divisive?

It’s been a couple of years, but I used to teach a cooking class here and there. I use the word “teach” very loosely, as I looked at it more like showing some like-minded folks what kind of homemade foods were working really well for my life.

Some of my favorites were Dutch oven bread, clean coffee creamers and today’s raison d’etre: yogurt. Despite the bread dough’s need to sit and bubble for at least half a day and the coffee creamers requiring a good whisk before pouring, humble homemade yogurt got the incredulous eyebrow raises.

When I run into any of the angels who attended these classes, they nearly always comment on the homemade yogurt. It blew their minds then and continues to do so. Apparently making your own yogurt is right up there with using divining rods or carob in place of chocolate. It’s viewed as crossing the line into the world of hippy dippy.

I’m standing my ground. Try it. It’s easy, and the result looks and tastes just like store-bought plain yogurt. Smush up some fruit to stir in with a drizzle of honey, or even use a dollop of jam if you want sweet, fruity yogurt. I promise it’s not weird.

While I like making food from scratch to avoid added sugar and ingredients I can’t pronounce, making homemade yogurt is just a numbers game. Plain yogurt plays far too large of a role in my life to buy plastic container after plastic container: I use it to cool off my food when my spicy eyes are too big for my palate; it’s there for tzatziki sauce when it’s gyro night (and I love gyro night); it’s at the ready to add nutritious creaminess to smoothies; and it’s always ready for breakfast.

If saving dollars is your love language, homemade yogurt is where it’s at. A half-gallon of milk makes more than 2 quarts of yogurt. And it lasts for ages. And you won’t be contributing to the plastic situation. You do the math; I don’t like to.

These days, I use an Instant Pot to make yogurt, but before that, I used a pot on the stove. Both are very easy, and I recommend using milk with at least 2% fat. Try these recipes to make your own.

Instant Pot yogurt

1/2 gallon milk

2 tablespoons prepared yogurt with cultures

Pour milk into inner pot of Instant Pot. Push yogurt button until the screen reads “boil.” This cooking process will take about an hour.

Once the Instant Pot beeps that the boil cycle is complete, carefully remove the lid and test the temperature. It should be around 180 degrees. Remove inner pot and set on the counter. Allow the milk to cool to 105 to 115 degrees. This will take about an hour on the countertop or about 15 minutes if you place your inner pot into an ice bath.

Gently skim off the “skin” on the yogurt and discard. Whisk in the prepared yogurt.

Place inner pot back in Instant Pot. Put lid on and press yogurt button again and adjust until screen reads 10:00. Let yogurt incubate for 8 to 12 hours; the longer it sits, the tangier it gets. Eight hours is minimum.

Once yogurt beeps that it is complete, remove the inner pot and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight before transferring to preferred containers.

Recipe adapted from www.amindfullmom.com.

Stovetop yogurt

1/2 gallon milk

1/2 cup commercial yogurt with cultures

Pour the milk into a Dutch oven and place over medium to medium-high heat. Warm the milk to right below boiling, 180 to 200 degrees. Stir the milk gently as it heats to make sure the bottom doesn’t scorch and the milk doesn’t boil over.

Let the milk cool until just warm to the touch, 112 to 116 degrees. You can help this step go faster by placing the Dutch oven in an ice water bath and gently stirring the milk.

Scoop out about a cup of warm milk into a bowl. Add the yogurt and whisk until smooth and the yogurt is dissolved in the milk. Whisk the thinned yogurt into the milk. While whisking gently, pour the thinned yogurt into the warm milk. This inoculates the milk with the yogurt culture.

Cover the pot with a towel and place in a turned-off oven — turn on the oven light or wrap the pot in towels to keep the milk warm as it sets (ideally around 110 degrees, though some variance is fine).

Wait for the yogurt to set. Avoid jostling or stirring the yogurt until it has fully set. Recommended time is anywhere from 4 to 12 hours, but it will get tangier the longer it sits.

Once the yogurt has set to your liking, remove it from the oven. If you see any watery whey on the surface of the yogurt, you can either drain this off or whisk it back into the yogurt before transferring to containers. Whisking also gives the yogurt a more consistent creamy texture. Transfer to storage containers, cover and refrigerate.

Recipe adapted from www.thekitchn.com

Amanda Stone is a food and gardening columnist for The Joplin Globe. Email questions to astone@joplinglobe.com or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.

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Amanda Stone is a food and gardening columnist for The Joplin Globe. Email questions to astone@joplinglobe.com or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.