Making Plain Yogurt at Home
Baby Evelyn likes plain yogurt. I had never really had the plain stuff, and it was kind of a shock to realize how tart and sour it is. It made me realize how much sugar goes into "normal" yogurt to give it a sweet flavor. In a book Super Baby Food we saw a recipe to make plain (i.e. tart) yogurt. I've made it a couple times and Evelyn likes it.
I think the more fat in the milk the better the yogurt will be. You don't have to use organic, but since it is mostly for Evelyn we've used it the couple times we've made it.
I use the steps in the book, but also my general brewing experience. Since the milk is not boiled, I keep the thermometer and spoon in a glass of sanitizer between uses.
The milk needs to be "scalded" to kill the "bad" bacteria. This happens between 180-185. I stir nearly constantly to avoid scorching. Otherwise you can use a double boiler or something.
I sanitize my quart jars. They say to make sure they are super clean, but I also do this extra step.
You can either use some yogurt from a previous batch (which I have not tried yet) or a yogurt starter with the necessary bacteria. This box came with 6 packets. Each packet makes a quart.
Once the milk gets scalded it is time to chill it down.
This is a carry over from homebrewing as well. I put the pot in some ice water and stir with my sanitized spoon. It only takes a few minutes to get down to the desired range of 90 to 120, with 112 degree F being ideal.
I cooled it down to this temp since I know it will lose some heat once I put it into the jars.
After pouring into the jars I added one packet to each quart.
Now they need to sit from 4-12 hours to become thick and pudding like. My first batch only took 4 hours. These took longer.
I put some warm water (around 120 deg) in a small cooler, and then put the lid on. I read to have the water come up at least half way up the jars.
I put a sleeping bag over the cooler to help it retain as much heat as possible.
After they become like pudding, you put them into the fridge and let them cool.
The taste becomes more tart the longer you let them condition after they first become firm. I aim for less tart and have actually come to like the slightly sour taste. I have also experimented with adding a small amount of sugar to yogurt in a bowl, and that cuts down the tartness quite a bit.