A few months ago I came across a really good deal on milk - well - better than a good deal because it was free. I had a $1.00 off coupon on milk that went on sale for $1.00. So I "bought" lots of them and stored them in the freezer.
We're a family that likes yogurt. If it's in the house it disappears quickly and it can be kinda-pricey especially when you get those little individual containers. I made yogurt once or twice a long time ago but my interest was rekindled when a friend traded me a yogurt maker for some Tattler lids. She was upgrading to a larger yogurt maker model - that should have been a clue - because after several very successful batches of yogurt we ran into a problem. At the rate we could eat this yummy yogurt I would have to make yogurt everyday which in my world is just too-much-work!
Enter the food dehydrator and some of my collection of canning jars. I've used pints in the pictures here but you can use whatever size you like - half pints or the tiny 1/4 pint jam jars work great and then you have the same portability as those expensive personal sizes in the store. You can of course use any recycled jar but it helps if you still have the lid - you'll need them for storage afterwards.
The amounts of milk and yogurt are really not critical which is what makes this so simple. I started with 3 litres of milk and about a 1/2 cup of either store bought yogurt or leftover home made yogurt. I buy the plain organic yogurt when I need to start over. Usually this happens at least once a month when we accidentally eat all of it. Save some for the next batch by labelling the jar or putting a different coloured lid on it or divide up the original container of yogurt into an ice cube tray and freeze and use one or two in each batch depending on how much you are making.
This is the hardest part of the whole production - heat the milk. You want to heat it without boiling it. I watch for the tiny bubbles to start rising from the bottom of the pan and some steam - other people use a thermometer - you need to bring it to 180 degrees. Over time you will just know when it looks right.
I have also made yogurt out of powdered milk - a great option for being able to use a shelf stable item and even faster because you can boil the water in a kettle! I used 2 cups of Thrive powdered milk and 6 cups of boiling water. I added it to my blender/food processor and mixed it on low - it's hot - so be careful! I used a thermometer to measure when the milk had cooled to 150 degrees (edited to 115-120 degrees - although 150 has always worked for me - just to be on the safe side - see comments), added the yogurt starter and continued as below. It makes about 4 pints - because that's all that will fit in my blender.
When the milk has reached the right temperature take it off the stove and allow it to cool. While you're waiting wash your jars in hot soapy water and let them dry. The milk needs to cool to room temperature or 150 degrees. Use a funnel to fill your jars.
The jars go in the dehydrator at about 100 degrees for about 6 hours. Check to see how thick it's getting. You can leave it longer but it gets a stronger sour taste - which I like. You can also heat the oven to 200 degrees, wrap the bottles in a towel and turn the heat off leaving just the light bulb on to keep the oven warm. Some people use a thermos - a great no electricity solution. I've tried them all but since my dehydrator is convenient and I can put something in it to dehydrate at the same time - it's win-win.
You might think 5 or 6 pints is a lot of yogurt depending on how many people you have living at home and how much you all like yogurt. You can of course make less at one time but we always find uses for it!
I add some Herbamare and some Mrs. Dash to my cream cheese but you can add whatever you like. It tastes great on toast or used like goat cheese in a salad or anywhere you would use cream cheese. We also use the plain yogurt as the base for some really outstanding smoothies.
Yogurt is a great source of calcium, it helps to keep healthy bacteria flourishing in your stomach and tastes great. Anyone else make yogurt???