Required Equipment: Double Boiler
About the same time I was contemplating Paleo, my wife suggested we try making homemade yogurt. I had started eating various brands of Greek Yogurt over the past several months. I had long been a fan of plain yogurt mixed with fresh fruit and the Greek yogurt was a great improvement on the regular plain. Better texture, better macronutrient profile versus the regular.
I investigated online how to make yogurt – and found the process relatively simple, at least in written form. Heat milk, cool, add culture, incubate, then chill. There are also appliances available to do at least some part of the job for you – but I find this unnecessary.
Starting ingredients: Whole Milk and All Natural Yogurt. The ingredients on your yogurt should be milk and cultures. If you see Pectin, Cornstarch, Sugars, or flavors, put it back. I’ve found I can use the starter yogurt for batches two weeks in a row and they still work fine. I made the choice to use Whole Milk after a couple of batches using Low Fat milk of various varieties, the texture was less than ideal. I’ve also come to realize that using low fat or skim milk throws the macronutrient balance in favor of carbohydrates instead of fat and protein. At my current point in my workout cycle, I can probably use the calories as well.
So on to the process:
With my double boiler, I can fit about 7.5 cups of milk in the pot and safely put the lid on. Fill the bottom of the double boiler with water, turn the heat to medium high and put the lid on.
Stir regularly to avoid scorching and odd stuff with the milk solids. Check the temperature of the milk – when it reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit, turn off the heat and transfer the milk to a heavy Pyrex or Corning Ware bowl (one with a glass lid – but leave the lid off for now.)
Here’s the important part – you need to stir at least every 3-4 minutes to avoid the “Milk Skin” from forming on top of the cooling milk. The milk skin will end up as particulate in your yogurt if it forms.
The milk has a long way to cool – it needs to cool to 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit.
While you wait, mix 3 tablespoons of your starter yogurt with 3 tablespoons of your unheated milk. Stir well and let sit at room temperature. This is your starter culture.
When the milk reaches 110 degrees or cooler, stir in the cultures. Put the lid on, and put it in a warm place to incubate. I put mine in the oven – with the oven off but the oven light on! It keeps it warm enough to incubate well.
Now leave it there for 24 hours. It takes this long to get a nice firm product. You can pull it after 12 hours, but you will have a yogurt that has more liquid whey and less cultured solid yogurt.
At this point, you can eat it! It’s regular yogurt. To get to Greek, you need to strain off the whey. Many of the sites I read on the web recommended straining through cheese cloth. Entirely possible – but very messy and you lose a lot of solids. I found one site that recommended a very fine mesh strainer – and after a couple of batches I found the right one! I used Cooks’ Warehouse in Atlanta as my source.
The finished product is great. Texture is very rich and creamy – somewhere in between butter and whipped cream. Deeply chilled, it’s almost ice cream like.