Homemade Yogurt, or, Another Plastic Container Bites the Dust

Do the depths of your kitchen cabinet contain a collection like this?

After reusing and recycling, all that's left is "Reduce"!

I think I finally reached the breaking point with plastic sour cream and yogurt containers, even though I've found the City of Bellevue will recycle the lids as well, as long as they're 3" across. It was time to give homemade yogurt a try and homemade sour cream another go. I'll get to the sour cream in another post because I still had a plastic container of it in the fridge.

The book I mentioned last week suggested buying cultures creme fraiche and yogurt at Cheesemaking.com. Each individual packet of cultures made a quart of finished product. When it came time to make the yogurt (i.e., we were almost out of storebought and, dang it, I did not want even ONE more plastic container), I was torn between using the book's instructions or the instructions on the packet of cultures. I went with the book. Next time I'll try the official instructions and let you know how it goes.

First, I picked a good whole milk that had not been ultra-pasteurized, which apparently doesn't work as well when cultured. I found this (glass) bottle at Whole Foods. The book called for 4-1/2 cups, while the packet called for 4 cups. Next time I'll just use 4 cups so it fits all in one jar and gets thicker.

Then I had my little packet of cultures.

Following the book's directions, I "iced" my pot, to prevent the milk from scalding.

See that ice cube melting? (Ignore the weird suspension of the candy thermometer. I later abandoned that method.) You let the ice cube melt and then swirl the cold water across the bottom of the pot. After you add the milk, you stir only with a non-metal spoon. Voila! No scalding!

I heated the milk to 180F. Actually, to 195F because I wasn't paying attention. Then it was supposed to sit off the heat and cool to 110, but I tried to let it sit ten extra minutes at higher heat because the yogurt culture packet said that would make it thicker.

Then I forgot about it again, and the milk temperature dropped below 110F. Oops. Quickly, I whirled in the culture packet and poured it into my jars. I wrapped the jars in beach towels and put them in an insulated cooler, like one you take to the beach. About 6-7 hours later, I took the jars out. The main one had thickened nicely, but the little one didn't. No idea why.

And the result? Delicious! As good as storebought--creamy and smooth and tangy, and about the same price, when all was said and done.

The book had all kinds of suggestions for making flavored yogurt--all of which sounded like too much hassle. Instead, we just swirled some nectarine jam in from BFM's own Camp Robber Jams, sprinkled in homemade granola, and we were set!

Super easy and no plastic guilt. I highly recommend.