Recipes for making your own yogurt abound on the internet. So I haven’t thought too deeply about sharing my own instructions for home made yogurt. But recently I’ve made several batches of raw yogurt, which is very different from what most folks are making. I’ve had varying results. The first batches seem to come out very good. But using that yogurt to make a second batch doesn’t seem to work as well. The texture is different. I wouldn’t say it’s slimy, but it’s definitely a weird texture. So I’m not sure that I’ll make a second generation again.
Now, I readily admit that raw milk is not for everyone. Some people are turned off by the thought of using raw milk. If the cow is sick, its udder isn’t cleaned before milking or the milk isn’t collected in a clean container then chilled immediately, there is the possibility of contamination. I buy raw milk from a small farm where the animals are fed organic, homegrown feed, antibiotics and hormones aren’t given to the animals, and they keep their animals in very humane conditions. They are conscientious about keeping the milk clean and fresh. I have no worries about bad bacteria in the milk. As long as I can make the yogurt soon after I bring the milk home, I am not concerned about the yogurt going bad.
Most yogurt instructions call for heating the milk to 160-170 F then cooling it down to 110 F. To make raw yogurt and preserve the beneficial bacteria in the milk, I only heat the milk to 110 F. At 110 F thoroughly mix in the yogurt starter (or plain, fresh yogurt) containing the bacteria necessary for culturing. It needs to be incubated at 110 F until the yogurt sets, or becomes firm enough that you can tip the jar and it doesn’t run out. This usually takes anywhere from 5 to 12 hours. I tend to leave it longer for a tarter flavored yogurt.
I use a yogurt maker to incubate my yogurt, but there are instructions all over the internet for using a Crock pot, a cooler and jar of hot water, and other set ups. I haven’t tried any of those methods to see how well they work. I would be concerned that the keep warm setting on a slow cooker might be too high, check before you put a whole batch in to try this method. The hot water and a cooler will need to be checked and more hot water added if the temp cools down before the yogurt is ready. I’m sure that you can use these money saving techniques with good results if you play around a little.
If you want to have a rich, thick yogurt, I recommend using whole milk. If you really want to cut down on fat and use skim or low fat milk, you can still have a nice thick product if you add powdered milk to your mixture. Stir the powdered milk into a small amount of the milk first to form a paste, then add more milk until it is soupy enough to mix into the rest of the milk. Dumping the powdered milk into the whole pan of milk may create clumps.
The beneficial bacteria in yogurt helps keep your digestive system in good working order. If you have taken antibiotics for any reason, eat plenty of yogurt after finishing your medication. This will help repopulate your gut with the good bacteria needed for proper digestion.
When your yogurt is done, chill it and eat. I like adding a little homemade jam, granola, or raw honey to my yogurt. Do you eat yogurt? How do you like it?