Homemade Yogurt-It is easier than you think

My nine month old is going to eat me out of house and home!  She has an appetite like her father.   So, when it was time to try solid foods I braced myself for the high grocery bills.  Determined to save a few bucks I decided to make my own baby food.  After all, I read the labels on those little jars in the baby aisle and thought, “I gotta be able to get more for my money!”

I am a stay at home mom living on one income, similar to my sister.  I do have more time than the working mom.  My belief is, if you are not going to work; then work at saving.  This has developed into many things that I do in my home a little out of the mainstream.  For example, cloth diapering, breast-feeding exclusively, making my own baby food, and now making my own homemade yogurt.

I was buying a whole milk organic baby yogurt….let’s just say like the word “Wedding” you put “Baby” in front of it and it costs three times what it should.  I heard I could make my own with a few simple steps and decided to try.   I would like to share my recipe that is super simple. But first, just a little info about the concept.

Basically, you are going to grow a good bacteria in your milk over a period of 6-12 hours by using yogurt. This will take place in a consistently warm environment where it will not be disturbed for the allotted time. You can do this in one of many ways. I think the easiest way is in the oven, but I have heard of using a heating pad set on low, wrapped in a towel covered with a box. You want your oven or incubation box to stay between 100-115 degrees.

For the Oven Method, turn on the oven to the lowest setting for about 5 minutes just to get it warm.  Then turn on the oven light to see the interior temp on the thermometer, and the oven light will keep the temp just right.  You may have to open the door occasionally to cool and regulate the temp from being to hot in the first 30 minutes or so.   A good temp to start at is about 115 degrees, because the oven will cool very slightly over the course of the day.

Important to note:

I make mine with whole milk because I give it to my baby girl. I also don’t make it very sweet because she does not need all the sugar in store-bought. I use ORGANIC WHOLE MILK ONLY. I have tried using regular whole milk but it turns out super runny, and I like it super thick.   This recipe makes 2 qts but use whatever sized containers you have on hand.  Preferably glass because they don’t contaminate the yogurt.  Also, you can get plastic lids if you don’t want to deal with rusting rings and caps for your jars, and with the plastic lids you can use a dry erase to write the made on date so you can keep track of the age.  You can find them at kmart.com.  The regular sized mason lid fits on the wide mouth  4 oz glass jar .
I love the math of this, too. I can buy my milk and yogurt starter for about $4.25 and make 64 oz with less sugar and flavor it with fresh fruit versus one package of organic yo-baby whole milk yogurt which is only (6) 4 oz containers= 24 oz.
Now that is good math,  plus less waste because you can reuse your containers.

Items you will need:
Saucepan to heat milk
Jars and lids to incubate and store yogurt ( enough to store 2 qts worth for this recipe)
Instant-read thermometer (one that can turn on and off and will stay on all day is best)

Ok, so let’s make some Yogurt!

Vanilla Yogurt
Yields: 2 qts
1/2 gal Whole organic milk
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp Vanilla
6-8 oz organic plain yogurt ( I use Stoneyfield because it has 5 different bacteria)

Warm oven to 120 degrees.

Heat milk in saucepan to 180 degrees. Stirring to keep milk from burning to the bottom of pan.
Remove from heat and set pot in sink.

Stir in sugar and vanilla.
Slowly fill sink with cold water and stir milk to cool quickly.
When milk reaches 115 degrees remove from cool water bath and stir in plain yogurt until dissolved.
Pour into prepared jars and close with lids. Place jars and thermometer on a cookie sheet covered with a kitchen towel in WARMED oven on middle rack.
Remember to leave the oven light on so you can read the thermometer.
Leave in oven undisturbed for 6-12 hours keeping the temp at 100-115 degrees.
Refrigerate over nite and enjoy.

For Plain yogurt variation:

Do not add sugar or vanilla.
Great to use instead of sour cream or add preserves to sweeten or flavor as desired.
I hope this has inspired you to go break out the instant read thermometer and make your own yogurt because, it is easier than you think.