Friday, February 17, 2012

Vanilla Yogurt

Homemade  yogurt is something you should do, REALLY.  It's easy, inexpensive, delicious, and healthy.  Pretty much has everything in its favor!

You can use your favorite kind of yogurt as a starter- I really like Tillamook vanilla bean  yogurt, it has three active cultures, and makes a creamy set.  You can absolutely use flavored yogurt as a starter.  Just be aware that most store bought yogurts have additional ingredients- flavors, sugars, thickeners.  So those will end up in your final product, albeit in a very small amount.

1/2 gallon whole milk
8 ounces store bought yogurt, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar

In a large pot, over low heat, heat milk to 185 degrees Farenheit, stirring occasionally.  It will form a skin, and will have bubbles around the edges.

Remove milk from heat and let cool to about 110 degrees Farenheit.  It needs to be below 120 degrees, to not kill the yogurt bacteria- 105 to 115 is best.  Stir in sugar, vanilla, and yogurt.  1/4 cup sugar makes a fairly tart yogurt, 1/2 cup sugar is totally kid friendly (and still far less sugar than store bought yogurt.)  You don't want to whip bubbles in, but definitely stir enough to mix the yogurt in.

Pour into two, very clean, wide mouth mason jars and screw lids on tight.  (You will have about a half cup left over- drink it!)  Put jars into a small cooler, and fill with hot tap water.  Shut the lid, and let sit undisturbed until set, 4-8 hours depending on how warm it stays.  You can change the water part way through to keep it warmer, or cover with towels.