I think I may have mentioned that I am heading up to San Francisco this week to sit in the front row at CreativeLive‘s “Marketing for Crafters” class presented by Tara Swiger. I am really looking forward to it. Bonus, I get to see my pal Jane Dolan live and in person, sitting in the front row with me. So, since I still have a ton of stuff to do I am pulling out a “Memba This Monday” post from last summer, when I took the plunge and made yogurt. Follow my CreativeLive adventure here and also on Twitter and Instagram.

I finally did it you guys. I actually followed through and made yogurt. And it went pretty well, I must say. Although for some reason I doubled the recipe and made a gallon of yogurt and now have enough to feed a small army. Why do I do these things?? I think I must have starved to death in a former life because I habitually make way too much food.

So making the yogurt was fairly easy. I used the recipe from Jennifer Reese‘s  Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, an amazing book and one I highly recommend. I make “cheese” so I have some basic equipment such as a thermometer and cheesecloth ( real cheesecloth, AKA butter muslin, that cheese makers use and not the gauzy stuff you find at the grocery store). Yogurt itself is just two ingredients, milk and yogurt with active cultures (also referred to as “the starter”), 1/8 cup of yogurt to 1/2 gallon of milk. (DO NOT do what I did and double this recipe unless you have 20 people living in your home). I used some ripe plums, pluots and nectarines I had on hand to make the fruit “jam”, basically cut up fruit and a little water boiled into a chunky syrup. Mmmmmm!

Ok, so step one is make sure everything is clean since you are basically leaving milk out all night to spoil. Don’t want any bonus cooties in it, right? Heat the milk to 185º over medium high heat, or just before the boiling point if you don’t have a thermometer. You really should get a thermometer though. It takes out the guess work and they cost like $5, maybe less. You can stir constantly or just let it do it’s thing (guess what I did).  If you use a non-stick pot, cleanup is super easy. The milk skin peels right off and dogs and chickens go nuts over this special treat. While you heat the milk, let your yogurt starter sit at room temp. Once the milk reaches temperature, pour it into a clean non-metallic bowl. I used my crockpot (turned off) because it has a lid and it’s kind of insulated. Wait for the milk to cool to 110º and then mix in the starter. It takes forever for the hot milk to cool. Ms. Reese suggests using an ice bath if you are impatient. I just puttered around the kitchen, occasionally checking the thermometer and stirring. When it finally cools, mix in the yogurt very well and then cover it up and bundle it with a big towel to keep it as close to 110º as possible while the friendly little bacteria work their magic. I was paranoid about keeping the yogurt at the correct temperature. This is probably the one thing that kept me from trying to make this for so long. But Jennifer Reese made it seem like no big deal and I trusted her. She was right, because this morning I had a crockpot full of yogurt.

You don’t need cheesecloth to make yogurt, but you do if you want to take the extra step of straining out some of the whey for a thicker final product. Supermarket cheesecloth will work, but the weave is super loose and so you’ll need to double it up, and still stuff will leak through. Also, you can really only use it one time, as opposed to REAL cheesecloth or muslin which can be washed and used repeatedly. You can also use and old sheet or thin cotton towel (washed of course) or plain old muslin from the fabric store. Line a colander with your cloth and spoon in the yogurt, then wait half an hour or so. Put your colander over a bowl to catch the whey and use it for baking. Chickens and dogs love it too. I pour it on their food and they lick their bowls clean. The dogs do, the chickens don’t, because their tongues are weird and tiny.

I will definitely be making this on a regular basis, but only a quart at a time. And I will let it ferment for 8 hours as opposed to 12, since the longer it sits, the tangier it gets and this was pretty tangy. If you make your own yogurt, please let me know how yours turns out in the comments.

crockpot full of yogurt
fruit at the bottom
Hubby’s yogurt ready to go
this is what’s left after filling 6 small containers. Yikes!