Yogurt is a staple in our home, so I have been looking forward to making my own. My husband and I prefer vanilla yogurt while my son loves plain yogurt served with homemade granola and raisins. This project got the whole family excited and involved. My husband got us a yogurt maker, so it could be easy and low maintenance for us both to use. I used it for my first time but have been alternating between the maker and using heat from our wood stove to make it in larger batches. I also use the oven, but the light is not enough to keep it warm during this time of year so I place a heat mat in the oven to help keep it warm. I also slightly modified the recipe to include a small proportion of half and half for a creamier consistency.
1st Recipe Used:
1 quart whole milk
¼ cup yogurt (Straus Whole Milk Yogurt)
28 oz whole milk
4 oz half and half cream
¼ cup yogurt (Straus Whole Milk Yogurt)
Milk was warmed to 180 degrees and allowed to cool to 100-110 degrees before adding yogurt.
Flavors we have made so far:
*Vanilla (I use leftover vanilla beans from making my own extract and whisk the split bean in the yogurt and leave it in until the container is finished)
*Honey (add honey to taste to the yogurt, preferably when yogurt is still warm before storing in the fridge)
*Vanilla Rose (Add a splash of rose hydrosol to vanilla yogurt)
*Rosehip Vanilla (add a spoonful of homemade non-preserved rosehip seed jam to plain or vanilla yogurt ~ made by soaking rosehips with apple juice, cinnamon and ginger)
*Elderberry (add elderberry syrup to taste)
*Loving Heart & Vanilla (Made with pulp from straining one of my elixirs which has heart nourishing herbs and spices as well as pomegranate, cranberry, apple and oranges. I do a double strain and took the pulp from the second strain and added it to the yogurt. It was incredible!!)
*Apple Cinnamon (adding apple sauce to taste with a little cinnamon)
Sides we have added or served yogurt with:
*Homemade grateful granola with raisins
All the flavors came out delicious, but my favorite flavors were Vanilla Bean, Vanilla Rose, Rosehip Jam and Loving Heart (made with the left-over pulp of one of my Herbal Fruit Elixirs).
Dates Prepared: October 12, 2017; October 27, 2017; November 20th;
(dates of the batches where I took pictures for the log, but I have made a few more batches of yogurt throughout the program as well)
Length of Ferment:
Anywhere between 15-24 hours
Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker:
I used the Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker for my first batch which is great for making small serving sized containers that are ready to go and allows you to conveniently add varying flavors. The instructions for the yogurt maker recommended the yogurt to sit for 7-10 hours which seemed very short to me and I had forgotten that Summer recommended 24 hours, even in her Euro Cuisine. I let it go for the 10 hours recommended assuming that since the yogurt was in smaller containers it would ferment faster and that is why the manufacture recommendation such a short time. When I checked them, they were starting to solidify off the sides of the containers but still seemed a little runny and was only mildly sour. I let it continue fermenting past the recommended time from the manufacturer and let it ferment for another 5 hours. It did thicken up more and have a stronger sour flavor, resembling that of commercially sold yogurt. After I remembered the 24 hour recommendation, I made sure all my batches fermented closer to that time.
I did have 1 failed attempt the first time I tried to make yogurt in my oven. My house stays very cool, especially during this time of year so the oven light was not enough to maintain the ideal temperature and it dropped in the middle of the night. The milk had turned sour but was very thin and did not have the smell, consistency or taste of yogurt so I had to discard it.
The following time I used my oven, I turned on the heat for a few minutes, then opened the door to release excess heat, leaving just enough to maintain a 95-100 degree temperature range. I had to remove the yogurt about 8 hours later and preheat the oven again, placing the yogurt back in it to finish the fermenting process for another 12+ hours. This made a delicious and mildly creamy yogurt, but it was not quite as good as when we make it by the wood stove.
I figured out another method which is easier to maintain the heat. I now place a heat mat on the bottom rack with the yogurt sitting above it with the oven light on. The heat mat and light together produce enough heat to maintain a 90-95 degree temperature to ferment a lovely tasting and low maintenance yogurt. I just periodically check it every few hours to make sure the heat mat does not create too much heat and adjust the setting using a plug-in timer when needed.
It was easy once I dialed in the perfect spot to place the bowl and I found that using a Lazy Susan is great as it helps to periodically spin the bowl without disturbing the mixture for a more even heat exposure. I rotate it 180 degrees every other time we put a new log on. The yogurt has a pleasant and very subtle woody note and every time I ate it I felt like I was taking in a breath from within the forest. It is our favorite way to make yogurt so far as the consistency and flavor was the best but we do not always have the wood stove going, especially for extend periods of time so I sometimes start with the wood stove and finish it in the oven or vise versa.
What Would I Do/Try Differently Next Time:
I may experiment with adding more cream since my husband and son prefer the creamier consistency but otherwise I am pretty sure I have dialed in the process. During cooler months, I will primarily use my yogurt maker, the wood stove or heat mat in the oven but I look forward to trying other methods like on top the fridge during the warmer time of year. We will continue to experiment with delicious flavors and recipes and I look forward to trying some of my savory yogurt dips and sauces which I have not had a chance to make with my homemade yogurt yet.
Easy DIY Yogurt
Watch this 5 minute video to learn how to easily make your own yogurt at home with minimal ingredients and supplies.
Subscribe to my YouTube Channel Herbal Living and Fermenting!
Using a Yogurt Maker:
Using the Wood Stove & Oven:
Adding Flavors & Serving Yogurt:
Images Above – Vanilla yogurt served with apple slices; Vanilla Bean Yogurt
Images below – Honey; Loving Heart Elixir Pulp; Nourishing Elderberry Syrup (being made); Rosehip Seed Jam