One of the most exciting cooking skills I learned in the last few years is how to make yogurt! I lived with a wonderful family friend named Banoo the last two summers in Boston who taught me to make yogurt. This was a game changer, as I love yogurt - I once had 40 individual yogurts in my dorm fridge, and ate them all in less than 2 week, complete truth. It is easy to make your own yogurt, and most of the process is just letting it sit and culture.
Making yogurt at home saves a lot of money, and you can make any flavor. One gallon of milk makes four full sized yogurt containers, so it is definitely cheaper. And homemade yogurt has no added sugar, as opposed to most store bought yogurts that aren’t plain. It is very simple; you just need milk and some yogurt.
Banoo recommends whole milk for this, so I have always used whole milk, but maybe other types of milk would work as well. You end up removing a significant amount of skin that forms from the fat, so maybe using a reduced fat milk would just create less skin to be removed. I will try it sometime and let you know!
I know it might sound odd for yogurt to be an ingredient in yogurt, but this is the interesting part - you need a source of the bacteria to culture the milk, so for the first time you make yogurt you will need store bought yogurt, but afterwards you can save some of the yogurt you made and add it to the next batch! It's like the circle of life, but you can eat it!!
Plain yogurt is so versatile - I love adding plain yogurt to things as a sauce, or adding fruit and nuts to make breakfast yogurt bowls. If you want it to be thicker, you can strain it to make a Greek yogurt consistency, which I have done! You just need a clean, finely woven cloth bag. I got this one on Amazon that is made for straining nut milk, and it works great, but I have also used other cloth bags with success. From my experience, two full yogurt containers of plain, unstrained yogurt will yield about 1 full container of strained, Greek-style yogurt.
1 gallon of whole milk
A few spoonfuls of plain yogurt (I’ll call this the starter yogurt for clarity)
1. Boil the milk in a pot on a stove burner. When the surface foams, turn down the heat slightly until the foam subsides, then turn it back up until it foams again. Repeat a few times, removing the skin that forms on top - I use a fork to do this.
2. Remove from heat and let the milk cool slightly. During this time, let the starter yogurt warm to room temperature
2. Once the milk has cooled so it is warm - but not hot - to the touch, pour it into full size yogurt containers and cover them, removing the skin that will have formed on top if desired.
3. Add a few spoonfuls of the starter yogurt to each container, and mix slowly.
4. Cover the yogurt and wrap well in layers of blankets and leave overnight. It should stay covered for at least 8 hours, but Banoo prefers 12 hours. She also says that if you uncover it around 8 hours it is sweeter; if you wait 12 hours it will be more tart. I have left mine for even longer than 12 hours when I had a busy schedule, and it was totally fine!
5. When the yogurt is done, stir and refrigerate. If there is extra liquid that separates out, you can pour it off. You now have plain yogurt!
6. If you want to strain the yogurt to make it thicker, spoon it into a straining bag, set the bag in a strainer over a bowl and refrigerate for a few hours. You will see the liquid drain out into the bowl beneath.
7. Check on the yogurt every so often until it has thickened to your liking. FYI - if it strains too long, it will be so thick that it will almost be a cheese like consistency - this has happened to me and it will still taste fine, but is more of a spread than a yogurt.
8. Spoon the yogurt out of the bag and into a container, and keep in the refrigerator. It is kind of messy to spoon the yogurt out of the bag, but I have found that flipping the bag inside out once you have spooned out all you can and then using a spatula is very efficient.
9. You have successfully made yogurt!!
10. Add any toppings you want! I have tried many combinations. Some of my favorites are: mint and cherries; peanut butter and banana; and berries, nuts, and chocolate. I also like to add baked goods like muffins to my yogurt bowls - you can find some examples of this on my Instagram!