Saturday, September 19, 2015



When I discovered that I could make yogurt for a LOT less money than what I pay at our local grocery stores, I’ve never looked back.  And it is so easy to make, too!  Here is the recipe I use, but there are other variations that produce different results.  I encourage you to try other recipes and find the one that you like best.  Suffice to say that making yogurt is hard to mess up.  

A note about milk: There is much research and literature out there about the pros and cons of pasteurization and homogenization (worthy of a separate blog article) as well as pasture-raised or grain-fed cows.  I strongly encourage you to do your own research (see the resources at the end to get you started).  From what I’ve learned, the long and short of it is that the less we mess with the milk and the cows, the better the milk is for you.  If you are lucky enough to have your own cow or goat (I did run into a couple goats down in Port Armstrong, so it is theoretically possible), then raw milk is the way to go.  It contains all of the beneficial nutrients and enzymes that we destroy through pasteurization.   We cannot get raw milk in Sitka.  The next best thing is non-homogenized, vat pasteurized milk (NOT High Temperature/HTST or Ultra High Temperature UP/UHT pasteurized).  Milk processors have moved towards higher temperature pasteurization because it can be transported farther and has a longer shelf life; which the grocery stores prefer (especially in harder to reach places like southeast Alaska).  However, this results in more damage to the good stuff in the milk.  The next time you’re at the store, read the label on the milk you typically buy and see what kind of pasteurization they use. 

I use Pure Eire non-homogenized, vat pasteurized, whole milk (purchased through Blue Valley Meats, $9.99/gallon plus about $3 to 3.50 shipping).  The milk comes frozen from Blue Valley.  I usually order 2-3 gallons at a time and just put it in the freezer until I’m running low on yogurt.  Thaw a gallon in the fridge for a few days and you’re ready to go.  

No matter what type of milk you use, you will be creating a more nutritious food by making it into yogurt! 

Recipe – adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz
(makes 4 ½ quarts of yogurt = $2.88 to $3 per quart, compared to $6+ per quart of my preferred Nancy’s Organic Whole Milk Plain)

Time: about 1 ½ hours preparation, 8 to 24 hours fermentation

1 gallon of milk
5 tablespoons of plain live cultured yogurt
4 quart jars and 1 pint jar with lids

You can easily reduce or expand the recipe using a ratio of about 1 quart milk to 1 tablespoon of yogurt.

1.     Heat milk to 180 degrees F.  Heat the milk slowly in a pot on the stove over low heat.  This can take up to 45 minutes (or longer if you’re me).  I usually put it on low heat with a lid on and do something else for about a half hour or so, giving it the occasional stir.  I’ll then increase the heat slightly and pay more attention to it, stirring more frequently and checking the temperature.  


2.     While the milk is heating, fill your jars with hot water and set aside.  This warms the jars to a nice temperature for adding your warmed milk.
3.     Once the milk reaches 180, remove from heat and let cool to about 110 degrees F.  I put the pot in the sink and fill the sink with cold water (slowly so that it doesn’t splash water from your potentially bacteria laden sink into your now sterilized milk).   Usually takes only about 15 minutes to cool.
4.     While the milk is cooling, dump the water out of the jars and put a tablespoon of yogurt in each jar. 

5.     Stir the milk until cooled to just about 110.  Work quickly to ladle the milk into the jars, give the milk a stir to mix in the yogurt.  Set your lids on top (do not screw on tight, gases from lactic acid formation will need to escape), and put jars in a warm place.  I put mine in the oven with just the pilot light to keep them warm.  You can also set them in a cooler wrapped in a towel, close the lid to keep the warmth inside.
6.     Forget about them for at least 8 hours (or longer if you like a more tangy, sour flavor).  We’ve made our best yogurt when we’ve literally forgotten about them, left overnight in the oven and remembered the next morning – about 16 hours of fermenting.  Delicious!

7.     After your desired fermenting time, screw the lids on and put in the fridge.  Let sit for a day before tasting. 

Yogurt can last for weeks in the fridge; getting slightly more sour the longer it sits as more of the milk’s lactose converts to lactic acid.  Enjoy plain or add your favorite sweetener.   Don’t forget to save a little plain yogurt for your next batch!  Once you have your own, you can keep making yogurt indefinitely.

Milk and Yogurt Resources:
-       Weston A. Price Foundation:
-       Cornucopia Institute’s dairy report and scorecard:
-       Book: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, read the “Milk and Milk Products” and “Cultured Dairy Products” sections.
-       Book: Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz, read the section on Yogurt
-       Google your milk manufacturer to find out how they process their milk and where the milk comes from. 

 Submitted by Jen Mac Donald


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