All you need is a microwave oven, a Mason jar and a thermometer that goes to 200°F (93.3C), a quart of whole milk (better if it is antibiotic, hormone and GMO free), and about 1/4 cup Greek yogurt or the same size sample from a batch of previously home made yogurt. Using the microwave saves you the extra step and clean-up of a pan on the stove. This method is so easy you may never need to purchase the expensive stuff from the store ever again!
Step one: Have your 1/4 cup sample of yogurt ready to “seed” the quart of milk in your pre-sanitized Mason jar (boil half a quart of water in it prior, then cool it by slowly add the milk). The milk in the mason jar goes into the microwave for approximately 5 minutes or until the thermometer reaches 180° (82.2C). Stir occasionally to ensure even temperature top to bottom and skim light skin when it appears.
Just needs another minute…
Step two: Cool the scalded milk back to a temperature you would be comfortable bathing in; about 110°F (43.3C). Add the culture; about a quarter cup of plain yogurt from an earlier batch, or you could use a sample of store-bought plain Greek yogurt; the more organic the better. Not all commercial yogurts are created equal but FAGE is a brand highly recommended for taste and quality ingredients if you need to go that route for your culture. About half of a single serving tub is sufficient. Stir it in, mix well and screw on the lid. As long as you make the next quart of yogurt from your own stock you will never have to purchase yogurt from the store again! The taste and quality of home made is superior to anything mass produced.
The Cool-down and the Culture
Step three: Set the jar somewhere it won’t be disturbed but will stay warm the whole day; about 10 to 12 hours. Because it’s summer the temperature outside is perfect for culturing yogurt; about 90°F (32.2C) average. As long as the temperature stays between 80° and 100° it will be fine. This temperature range is the perfect temperature for the lactic acid producing bacteria to thrive and multiply causing the milk to thicken but not curdle. Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are the common strains of bacteria which produce a creamy, thick, gut-health boosting yogurt. If you start this process at 7:00 a.m., by 7:00 p.m. the bacteria will have done its job. Watch the temperature outside carefully that it stays within the range I mentioned earlier. In this case the temperature outside was 80°F by 8:00 a.m. when the cooking and cooling was done and that was perfect. It got to the mid 90°s and by 7:00 p.m. it was 85°; again, perfect.
Set it out in the Hot Summer Breeze
Step four: Now put the jar in the refrigerator overnight and by 5:00 a.m. or so the next day you will have a delicious creamy, tangy, treat to eat for breakfast. If your end product is too thin you can strain the whole jar of its whey in a strainer with cheesecloth or a large coffee filter until it is the consistency you desire.
Bonus: Don’t throw out the whey! It can be used in soups, mashed potatoes, smoothies, etc…anything you usually add milk and water to will get a boost of protein and added flavor, plus the probiotic benefit.
The Greek yogurt business is in the 1.7 billion range today. I really get a kick out of taking away at least one customer. At the store at nearly $2.00 per serving you get 7 oz of a product in a plastic tub with an aluminum lid glued to it and who knows what else added. Give this pure and simple method a try! You too will keep that money in your own pockets and be so much more satisfied with the taste, and the knowledge of exactly what you are eating from a sterilized glass jar. Take charge! I’m having mine with chunks of home-grown tomatoes. YUMMO!