As a farmer’s daughter, I grew up on a farm with a milk cow. Milk cows produce milk… or more accurately stated, the cow NEEDS to be milked. Every. Day. In my family, it was a right of passage; a sign of growing up when it became your turn to milk the cow. No one was afraid of the cow. She just wanted to eat and waited patiently for you to finish the milking task. And she was a good milker, giving up at least 3 gallons per day.
With a family of 8, that was plenty for everyone. The barn cats got milk. The dog got milk. And we had milk on our table at every meal. There was plenty of milky goodness to go around. However, not once did milk end up as yogurt on our table. I believe that was mostly due to my mom never having yogurt in her life and she didn’t know how to make it.
Once I got to college, I discovered yogurt. But I truly did not fall in love with yogurt until I began making it.
For all of you yogurt fans out there, here is how I make yogurt:
- 1/2 gallon of milk (I prefer goat)
- 1 packet of Y3 yogurt culture
- heavy-bottomed pan
- long handled spoon
- large bowl
- cheese cloth or butter muslin
Place the heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the milk and stir periodically to prevent the milk from scorching on the bottom of the pan. Check the temperature every few minutes. When the milk reaches 180F, remove the pan from heat. Allow the milk to cool to 115F. Sprinkle culture over the surface of the milk and allow it to ‘bloom’ (rehydrate). After two minutes, stir the culture into the milk. Pour the milk into an oven safe container (I use the pan that I heated the milk in) and cover with a lid. Place the container in an oven set to the lowest temperature (my oven goes to 170F) and leave the door ajar. Periodically check the as you are trying to keep it around 115F. Allow the mixture to set overnight (6 -12) hours.
Please note that the milk mixture will change from a ‘milk’ consistency to that of a ‘yogurt’. (If you typically purchase yogurt from the store, the store bought yogurt generally has a thicker texture.) There will also be a layer of liquid. This liquid is the whey, a natural by product of the yogurt making process.
To create the lovely, thickened consistency that is associated with Greek yogurt, place the colander over a large bowl (nearly as large as the pan you heated the milk in). Then line the colander with cheese cloth or butter muslin. Carefully spoon the yogurt (with whey) into the colander. Allow to drain for approximately 2 hours or until desired consistency. Once the yogurt reaches this point, spoon the yogurt into a container (or containers) that is destined for the refrigerator. I generally spoon the yogurt into single-serving glass jars, such a 1/2 pints Mason jars or the 7oz. tulip jar from Weck. If I intend to use the Greek yogurt for baking or cooking, I use just a single, large container with a lid. It is so much easier to get a measuring cup inside a large container.
Please do not throw out the whey! This is a wonderfully, nutrient-rich liquid. We save ours to use in soups, stew, smoothies, ice cream, baked goods, and if the chickens have been really good… they will get a bowl of it.
Now all that is left is to enjoy your newly made yogurt. I do prefer mine chilled so I let it set in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
In the photo to the right is one of my favorite ways to enjoy Greek yogurt; drizzled with honey, a spoonful of pickled blueberries, and topped off with some sliced almonds.
Great Greek yogurt is something you can start this evening and enjoy tomorrow.