With my dairy allergy, there are many things that I have been missing for awhile now. One such thing is yogurt. It was practically torture to have my sisters open up containers filled with creamy, sweet, smooth dairy that makes your mouth water when you haven’t had it in a long time. So after being in Israel last fall, and seeing our hosts make homemade yogurt, I decided it was my turn to try to make the very thing I had been missing so much.
I found a recipe on Epicurious and my first attempt actually created yogurt, even though I learned, later on, that I did mess up a bit. It was a lot thinner than the consistency I was used to with store bought yogurt, but its flavor was so mild and creamy that I decided right then and there that I liked homemade better than store bought yogurt, which seems to be the case with most things.
The only reason my first batch turned out was because I made a triple batch and let it sit for 12 hours. I did not get the incubator warm enough or have it insulated well enough for it to have worked without sitting for so long and having so much of it. I realized this important fact the second time I made yogurt (that time it didn’t work out.) At first, I thought it was because I used the original batch as the starter, but as I reread through the recipe, I realized that it should have worked to use the first batch as the starter. I also saw that some people use jars of hot water to help keep the incubator warm. After learning all of this, I tried again with a larger batch, new starter from the store, a better insulating cooler, and hot jars to warm it up. This time it worked out perfectly, just as the recipe said it would. Sometimes I just need to read the directions all the way through. I guess that is what they are there for!
Oh, the joys of homemade dairy goodness that doesn’t hurt my tummy! Here is my step by step process. I will usually make a double or triple batch. I try to use more Nigerian dwarf milk than Saanen milk because of the extra fat content in the milk. This adds to the creaminess of the yogurt.
Add all of this fresh, raw, goat- dairy goodness into a stainless steel pot. Heat it up to 180°F uncovered and then remove from heat. Allow to cool to 125°F. While the milk is cooling, set up the cooler with jars of hot water to work as an incubator. I also like to throw a couple towels into the dryer to pack everything in. Once the milk cools to 125°F, I grab out 1-2 cups of the hot milk (I pull it out a little early because the glass measuring cup is cold and will drop the temp of the milk.) Mix in the starter to the 1-2 cups of milk in the measuring cup. The starter consists of 3/4 C of the previous batch of yogurt or one small container of plain Greek yogurt. Allow the rest of the pot to cool to 115°F before adding the warm starter milk. Just lightly mix enough to incorporate the starter to the bigger pot. Don’t over mix.
Pour yogurt into mason jars or whatever containers that you want to store the yogurt in and place them into the warm incubator. Then I quickly grab the towels out of the dryer, stuff them on top of everything and close the lid. I like to let my yogurt set for 6-8 hours (undisturbed- don’t touch the incubator!) because I don’t care about the thickness as much and like the milder flavor.
This is seriously the best yogurt I have ever eaten and I love it!!!!!