First, the machine: I use a EuroCuisine yogurt maker, but I'm pretty sure this method would work with any machine. (If you want a good description of how to make yogurt without a machine, try Debbie's post here.) The EuroCuisine is the only yogurt maker I've ever used, so I can't compare brands, but so far I'm really happy with it. It has 7 six-ounce jars, so if your machine has a different number of jars or size, adjust accordingly. If you're shopping around, the things I looked for were automatic shut-off and glass jars (as opposed to plastic).
I thought about doing one of those fancy posts like the food blogs with a picture of every single step. But I'm not all that handy with a camera, so you just get three: the machine, the ingredients, and the finished product. Here are the ingredients I use:
You need some kind of "starter," which has the yogurt cultures in it. You can use freeze dried yogurt starter, or half a cup of yogurt from the store (make sure it has "live" yogurt cultures, it will say so on the label), or you can use about two-thirds of a jar from your last batch. The freeze dried yogurt starter sounds weird, but it works really well, so I usually keep some on hand for when I don't have either of the other two (I'm out of it at the moment, which is why it isn't in the picture). So far we have not been very good at remembering to save a jar to use as the starter in the next batch, so I've only tried that once and it worked just fine. Today I used yogurt from the store as my starter.
Start by measuring out five cups of milk if you are using freeze-dried starter, four and a half if you will be adding yogurt as your starter. I measure it into my 20-year-old pyrex mixing bowl that has a spout, which has completely inaccurate markings on the side. So the first time I did it, I noted where five cups measured, and now I can just pour it in. Cover and let it sit on your counter for awhile.
The key is to have the milk at room temperature (about 68-70 degrees F) before it goes into the machine. Since it is cold here and we (apparently) have a drafty house, this doesn't happen naturally around here-- one time I left the milk sitting on the counter for over four hours and it still was only 64 degrees. So usually I let it sit for about an hour, then dip out about two cups into a small saucepan. Heat it gently, stirring occasionally, to about 110 degrees. While that is heating, stir:
1 tablespoon vanilla
4-5 tablespoons pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
into the milk that is still in the mixing bowl. When the milk on the stove is at 110, remove it and whisk in whatever starter you are using (if you've heated it to above 110, it won't hurt anything, but don't add the yogurt starter until it comes back down to 110 because it might kill the yogurt cultures). Stir it back in to the milk in the mixing bowl.
Then pour it into the jars (a plastic funnel makes this easier), set them in the machine, set it for ten hours, and turn it on.
Ten hours later, voilà! (but don't eat it until it's chilled or blecch)
|Traditional yogurt pose with impaled spoon|
- You don't put the lids on the jars until after they are done processing. See the first picture, with lidless jars cooking away in the machine. (cannot type lidless without thinking, "a lidless eye, wreathed in flame.")(sorry.)
- Turning on the machine sounds simple, but it mystified me the first time with my machine. Turns out the on/off switch is the indicator light, you have to press the light to turn it on. Who knew?
- While I was googling around for research for this post, I discovered someone who skips warming the milk entirely and just mixes everything in with milk straight from the refrigerator. I haven't tried that yet but this person says it works fine.
- The amount of sweetener I use (5 tablespoons of maple syrup) yields yogurt that is sweeter than plain yogurt, but it doesn't taste as sweet as the flavored stuff you get at the store. But after googling around just now and stretching my limited math skills to the breaking point, I discovered that even though it doesn't taste as sweet, I'm using about the same amount of sugar. A tablespoon of maple syrup has about 20g of sugar, so I'm adding 100g of sugar total. Divided into seven jars comes to a bit more than 14g of sugar per 6-oz jar. Since 6-oz of plain, no-sugar-added yogurt has about 12g of sugar (from lactose, the naturally-occurring sugar in milk), and 6 ounces of Yoplait French Vanilla yogurt has 26g of sugar, that means the 14g of sugar I'm adding is about the same amount as in the Yoplait (although it is maple syrup, a whole food, and not refined sugar). So if you're trying to reduce sugar intake, use less. In fact, I'm kind of shocked. I may start using less myself.
- You know how when you're making bread, you can put the dough in a warm place and it will rise in a couple of hours, or you can do a cold rise--put it in the fridge and it will rise in 8-12 hours? The same thing does NOT work for yogurt. I had some leftover prepped milk last week (with the yogurt starter, etc), so I poured it in a container, stuck it in the fridge. It was still milk when I checked it a few days later. Dangit.
- If you're going to do this often, buy an extra set of jars. That way you can process a second batch while the first is still being consumed.