Homemade Yogurt in Mason Jars

by Anna Bartels, TCM Apprentice

Yogurt, especially Greek style yogurt, is a great source of protein and healthy probiotics for a healthy gut.  I make this yogurt about once a week and in my opinion, it tastes far better than any yogurt I buy in the store.  I got the instructions from the blog Food In Jars.  The website has hundreds of recipes for things to make in jars: jams, baked goods, fermented foods, and coffee drinks.

Ingredients

One gallon of milk: I use organic, homogenized, pasteurized whole milk, but you can use whichever type of milk you prefer.

One six-ounce container of plain, unsweetened yogurt (your starter):  You can use whatever style of yogurt you prefer (I use Greek) but what is important is that the starter does not have flavors or added sugars and that it contains live active cultures (ie: l. acidophilus, bifidus).

Note: After you make your first batch of yogurt, you no longer need to buy a starter yogurt.  Just save around a cup of the yogurt from your homemade batch and use it as the starter!

Directions

Heat the gallon of milk in a soup pot on the stove top until it is between 190-200 degrees F.  I stir every few minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan.

When the milk reaches the desired temperature, place the pot directly into a sink filled with ice water.  Let the pot sit in the ice water until it cools down to around 120 degrees F.

Stir in a small, individual serving-sized cup of yogurt (your starter) into the milk.  It’s important not to stir it in until the milk 120 degrees because higher temps will kill the live cultures.  I usually whisk it into the milk quite vigorously so it distributes evenly without any lumps.

Pour the milk/yogurt mixture straight into four very clean one-quart mason jars.  Screw clean lids tightly onto each jar.

Fill a small cooler (I use a medium sized flip-top cooler) with about four inches of the hottest tap water you can manage (should be between 120-135 degrees F.

Place the four mason jars into the cooler.  Close cooler tightly and wrap it in a warm blanket (I used a double-layered fleece blanket).

Place cooler next to a heating source (vent or radiator).  Let the yogurt sit in cooler until thick, usually between 6-8 hours.  You can leave it in longer, which creates a more tangy flavor.

Place into your fridge to cool.  The yogurt usually will thicken up a little bit in the fridge, as well.  Enjoy!

Variations

If you want to make Greek yogurt, you can strain the original yogurt through a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a clean linen dishtowel.  If you make four quarts of yogurt you will end up with about two quarts of Greek yogurt after straining.  Sometimes I strain two of the jars into Greek yogurt and then mix the Greek yogurt with the remaining regular yogurt for a thicker yogurt.  Mix up whatever combo of thickness you like!  The liquid that strains off of the yogurt is called whey, and can be used to make various other items, such as fermented foods and breads.

I also make individual servings of yogurt in leftover jams jars for my partner to take to work.  I buy frozen fruit and heat it on the stove with either sugar or honey to sweeten it up, put a couple tablespoons of this mixture into the jam jar, and top with the homemade yogurt.  It probably costs about 30-40 cents to make each individual serving, as opposed to the $1.50-$2.00 we were spending on individual servings of Greek yogurt at the grocery store.

Happy yogurt making!!

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