A few months ago, I resolved to give yogurt-making another shot. I searched the internet for recipes and instructions, and broke out the yogurt maker that had been gathering dust in a cupboard. My first attempt using a new recipe was quite successful and I wondered why I had given up so easily years ago. Then I made another batch, and another, that didn't set properly. In the end, I discovered that the yogurt maker wasn't incubating consistently at the right temperature. In fact, I've heard of so many people getting inconsistent results with yogurt makers, that I wouldn't recommend buying one. I know many people get great results using a heating pad to incubate yogurt, but I don't have one. I do have a crockpot, but that method didn't appeal to me.
Really, the only trick to incubating yogurt is to find a way to keep it consistently at 110-115F for 8-10 hours. I came up with this Thermos-jug-and-cooler method which has worked well for me and uses items that most people already have laying around the house.
To use this method, you will need the following items:
-a 1 1/2 to 2 litre Thermos jug
-2 old towels
-4 large Mason jars (1 to 1 1/2 litres)
-a large cooler
Prepare your yogurt as usual (if you're new to yogurt making, I highly recommend reading the article in The Complete Tightwad Gazette on this topic!)
Once you've heated the milk and you're waiting for it to cool down (so you can add starter), fill the Thermos jug with as-hot-as-you-can-get-it tap water to prewarm it. When you're ready to incubate your yogurt, empty the water out, and pour the cultured milk mixture in. Seal it up as quickly as possible to keep the heat in. Wrap the Thermos jug in one of the towels, and place in the centre of the cooler. Then fill the 4 Mason jars with very hot tap water and place around the towel-wrapped jug:
Take the second towel and wrap it around the whole thing:
Now close up the cooler to keep everything warm and toasty inside! Leave it to incubate for 8-10 hours. You should have a nicely set batch of yogurt after that amount of time.
One thing I really like about this method (aside from getting more consistent results) is that when I'm not making yogurt, I don't have any extra pieces of equipment to store - these are all items that have multiple uses around my house.
I'd love to hear how this works for you if you decide to give it a whirl!
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I don't think you need nearly that much insulation. I merely take the yogurt/milk, put it in a container, put it in a cooler and add a hot water bottle. It works every time for me.ReplyDelete
You may be right that I've done a bit of insulation overkill, lol. I think it also depends on the conditions in your house and the weather. Right now it's cooking hot outside, so I'd probably go with just a hot water bottle like you described. If it was the middle of winter and I was going to do an overnight incubation, I'd do it the way I showed, since we turn the thermostat waaaay down at night and it gets really cold in the house! I think the size and insulating capacity of the cooler would be a factor too - some coolers are not nearly as good as others at keeping things warm, and the larger the cooler, the quicker the heat will dissipate. I think if people experiment a bit, they will find the way that works best for them.ReplyDelete
THIS IS TOO COMPLICATED OF A WAY TO MAKE YOGURT. SIMPLEST WAY...PUT ENOUGH MILK IN A POT...BRING TO A BOIL... TURN OFF...ADD YOGURT STARTER...STIR WELL. THEN REMOVE FROM HEAT...WRAP DISH TOWEL AROUND LID..SO TOWEL IS UNDERSIDE OF LID...FACING MILK. SET ASIDE FOR A COUPLE OF HOURS...AND VIOLA...YOGURT! THE STARTER IS ABOUT 2 TBSP OF PLAIN YOGURT. KEEP A BIT FROM THIS BATCH AND START AGAIN! OF COURSE, AFTER YOGURT IS MADE...ADD FRUIT OR WHATEVER YOU WANT IN IT!ReplyDelete
BY THE WAY...I USE ABOUT HALF A GALLON OF ANY TYPE OF MILK...AND A 2 QUART POT WITH MATCH LID...AND TOWEL. SLOWLY STIR YOGURT IN ONCE MILK HAS COOLED ABOUT HALF WAY.ReplyDelete
I know some people who have had success with the simpler method you describe but more people that have not or get inconsistent results this way. Most sources I've consulted recommend not bringing the milk all the way to a boil. I also prefer to measure the temperature of the milk because it only takes a minute and ensures you're not going to kill your starter (if it's over 120F it will kill it). From personal experience I find I need more insulation than you're using - those in warmer countries may have success with less. I use 2 tbsp starter per litre (quart) of milk. I find I need to incubate for much longer than you do to get a yogurt that's the consistency and flavour we like, however since I wrote this post I've found 6-8 hrs works well rather than 8-10. Yogurt making seems to be one of those things that certain methods work well for some people but not for others. The method I use works consistently for me where others I've tried haven't.ReplyDelete