The “Lady at the Grocery Store” Method of Making Yogurt

The “Lady at the Grocery Store” Method of Making Yogurt

I eat a lot of yogurt.  My husband would call that an understatement.  When our kids were still living at home the amount of money that we spent buying yogurt each month could have paid the lease on an econo car.  That was before Greek Yogurt came on the scene.  Therefore, you can imagine my joy when I learned how to make large quantities of yogurt with a minimum of time, effort, and expense.

It all began at the grocery store.  I normally do not pay attention to what other people have in their grocery carts.  I could not care less.  However, on this day the magazine headlines in the cashier’s line-up were of no interest to me.  My mind can only occupy itself for about five seconds before it starts looking for something to latch onto.  In front of me was a woman who had seven or eight gallons of whole milk in her cart.  Hard for a restless mind to not notice.  I tapped the woman on the shoulder and asked if she ran an orphanage or perhaps had a few sets of triplets at home. The woman informed me that she used the milk to make yogurt for her (apparently large) family and in the space of two minutes or less she explained how to do it.

I have tried many ways to make yogurt over the years some of which involved purchasing equipment that made individual servings of 250 mls or less.  This was useless to me. However, with the “Lady at the Grocery Store” method I could make a full gallon of yogurt (or more) at a time.  In this blog post I am sharing with you the yogurt recipe that has saved me hundreds if not thousands of dollars over the years:

Equipment (see picture):

One thick-bottomed metal pot

An inexpensive thermometer that goes as low as 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 Celsius) and as high as 180 degrees Fahrenheit (83 Celsius)

4 one-quart glass canning jars plus one ½ quart (500 ml) jar

Lids for the jars (you can purchase white plastic lids for canning jars at stores where canning supplies are sold)

An insulated picnic cooler

An empty one-gallon milk jug with cap

Ingredients:

One gallon of milk, whatever kind you like

About 1 cup instant skim milk powder

1/3rd cup of plain yogurt with active bacterial cultures (measure this)

Procedure:

Pre-heat the picnic cooler by filling the empty one-gallon milk jug with hot water and putting it in the cooler

Clean the jars with hot soapy water and let them air dry (or run them through the dishwasher)

Mix the milk and instant skim milk in the pot and then heat the mixture to 180 degrees Fahrenheit (83 Celsius)

Cool the milk mixture to 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 Celsius)

Add the yogurt and stir it a bit

Pour the mixture into the jars, screw on the lids and put the jars into the picnic cooler (keep the gallon of hot water in the cooler, it doesn’t matter if the jars touch it)

Put the cooler aside and do not move it for 8 to 12 hours

If you want to flavour your yogurt then do so when you are about to eat it. One time I tried adding maple syrup before incubating a batch.  Bad idea. The syrup fermented and the result was an inedible cross between mead (honey wine) and sour milk.

TIPS THAT I LEARNED THROUGH EXPERIENCE:

  • Higher butterfat milk makes creamier yogurt
  • You can omit the instant skim milk powder but your yogurt will have more “body” if you include it
  • You do not have to purchase yogurt for starter each time you make yogurt. You can use yogurt from your previous batch.  You can do this up to 24 times before the bacterial cultures become too depleted to make good yogurt.
  • Do not use more than 1/3rd cup yogurt for starter or your yogurt will be grainy
  • You can heat your milk to 180 degrees Fahrenheit in 10 minutes if you set the stove element on medium-high (but be sure to stir the milk mixture or it will scorch)
  • The longer you incubate your yogurt the tangier it will be so if you like mild-tasting yogurt stick to eight hours of incubation
  • Clear glass canning jars are handy because they can be cleaned easily BUT the riboflavin (one of the “B” vitamins) deteriorates when exposed to light. Therefore, if you can find dark-coloured or opaque jars that would be better

This post is dedicated to the lady at the grocery store.  Thank-you so much.

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