who knew it was so simple?
we have a thing for (addiction to) greek yogurt, that very thick slightly sour dreamy stuff that's packed with protein. mix in some preserves and a drizzle of honey and you have instant breakfast that even the most finicky eater will devour. but that stuff is pricy, and the number of plastic yogurt containers now in the girls' play kitchen is getting out of hand.
then one day i hear that my brother-in-law's mom "makes the best yogurt." and since our nephews would not endorse something if it wasn't tried and true, i decided to investigate. i casually asked her how she makes it, and she gladly shared her expertise with me. the problem was, i didn't write it down. and since it involves leaving milk on the counter overnight, i was a bit weary at winging it. and to know me is to know i am all about winging it, but not in this case (which is saying a lot) - bacteria is involved. but since this particular recipe/method for yogurt is closing in on 100 years old, i figured we could give it a go.
fast forward a year to this past Easter sunday when she hooked my arm and proceeded to dictate her recipe to me, making certain that i was writing down each and every step just as her mother had taught her. we laughed about some of the steps, as they run contrary to our modern day conventions, but i promised to try it and get back to her on our results.
- 1/2 gallon 2% milk (preferably organic)
- 1 6-8oz. container plain yogurt (we used 2% greek yogurt)
temper a heavy-bottomed saucepan with hot water.
pour in the 1/2 gallon of milk and heat it on medium-high heat until it just barely begins to simmer (not boil) and there is a skin on top.
take the pot off the heat and let the milk cool until "you can hold your index finger in the milk for 10 seconds" without screaming. i added the "without screaming" part to emphasize that it needs to still be hot but not scalding - she agreed with me.
pour the hot-not-scalding milk into a bowl that has a lid, but don't put the lid on it yet.
stir the small container of yogurt into the milk - don't whisk, just "stir and stir and stir until it's mixed in well."
put the lid on the bowl and wrap the bowl with towels to keep it warm. i think i used about 4-5 kitchen towels.
"leave it on the counter overnight." i know. scared me, too. so much so that the first time i made it, i ate it first and waited a while to make sure i wouldn't get sick. (i didn't. but i suggest you do the same - you know, to protect the innocent. and also to make sure you get a taste. just saying.)
the next morning, take off the towels and remove the lid to see if it has thickened and "gelled" - if it worked, you will be able to tell by simply jiggling the bowl. it should look, well, yogurty.
now it can go into the fridge - but first, you need to place some folded paper towels on top of the yogurt to absorb the water. you will have to change out these paper towels for new ones often, and mickie even suggested using washcloths instead, but i didn't want to possibly get detergent into the yogurt, so i opted for paper towels.
lid back on and into the fridge.
check out what happens.
after you scoop out everybody's servings, smooth out the yogurt again and place another paper towel on top to absorb more of the water and create that creamy thick top.
important!! you need to save 1 cup of the yogurt to use as your "starter" for the next batch. i've made it three times now and it just gets better and better. also, in an effort to calm my lingering fear of leaving it on the counter, i make it in the morning and it gels by evening, so i am able to pop it in the fridge before going to bed.
and just in case you aren't convinced by my pictures and gushing of how AMAZING this stuff is, let me give you financials - here's the breakdown:
- greek yogurt runs roughly $5 for 2 cups
- mickie's yogurt cost $3.50 for organic milk and yielded 8 cups
enough said? go make some! try it with skim, 1% or whole milk, too. and definitely let me know if you do - i'll report back to mickie! xoxo