If you are uncertain about making dairy cultures, or fermenting in general, I recommend starting with yogurt (and sauerkraut… but that’s a different topic).
I currently make 4 liters (gallon jug) nearly every other week! It is not as thick as store bought yogurts, but it doesn’t contain any of the additives (guar gum, pectin, gelatin, milk powder, etc.). Also, it is much cheaper than store bought, and considering how much we eat, that is a good thing.
Here are the top reasons to make yogurt:
1. It’s delicious!
2. It can be made without any special ingredients or kitchen tools.
3. It can be used to make of all sort of other cultured foods!
You don’t need a yogurt maker to make yogurt. Currently I use a Brød & Taylor Bread Proofer & Yogurt Maker so that I can make a large volume of yogurt at once. Before I had my bread proofer I just wrapped my jars of yogurt up in a warm wool sweaters and left them in a hot part of my house (above the fridge, or on the shelf above my hot water heater). It took a little longer, but it always worked.
There are also all sorts of “kitchen hacks” that you can do to keep your yogurt warm. Including using a slow cooker, or putting in the oven with the door light on. Frankly the hot water tank hack is all I’ve ever used.
- 2 Tbsp yogurt with live culture
- 2 cups of milk
- Slowly heat your milk to 180 F (80 C), whisking occasionally to keep the milk from scalding on the bottom of the pot. (Heating the milk causes the proteins to denature making for thicker yogurt. You could skip this step, but your yogurt won't be as much fun).
- Pour the milk into the final culturing containers and cool to 105 F (40C).
- Stir culture into the yogurt. (If you are using store bought yogurt you may want to up to 6 Tbsp yogurt as they tend to have weaker cultures).
- Maintain at around 110F (40 C) until it is set to a pudding like consistency (for at least 4 hours, or if you like a sour yogurt with more bacteria then you can leave your yogurt for up to 24 hours).
-If you don’t have a thermometer, then heat your yogurt until it whisks up nice and frothy, then cool it to just above room temperature. However, I recommend getting a thermometer if you want to make nice thick yogurt.
-Homemade yogurt can be flavoured, just like store bought yogurt. Add jam or fresh fruit, vanilla, or cinnamon. Delicious.
-Here’s my recipe for Greek yogurt or labneh. It just requires straining the yogurt to thicken it. The whey then can be used as a starter culture for other ferments.
-If you want make cream-top yogurt, use non-homogenized milk. Or if you can’t find non-homogenized milk then add a few tablespoons of cream in the top of the jar before fermenting. It won’t be the same, but it will taste good!
If you don’t have yogurt after 8 hours then it’s likely due to one of the following common problems:
-your yogurt starter didn’t actually have enough live bacteria in it (a possibility with a supermarket yogurt)
-you added the yogurt starter before the milk cooled and accidentally cooked the culture, killing all the bacteria
-you didn’t keep it warm enough (unlikely).