So I am currently a senior attending a university in Southern California (though I am from Chicago), and much to my dismay, when I’m not at home I still live in the dorms. This is torture for me, because I would much rather cook all of my own meals and have a cute little kitchen to myself…couldn’t be farther from the truth. But yesterday I was determined to make yogurt. My mom makes this at home and I do too, so I knew what I was doing, but I lacked a candy thermometer and a way to keep the cultures at 110 degrees for 12 hours. But I thought about it for something like 3 weeks until I came up with a solution: my roommate’s regular “fever” thermometer and a large-ish tupperware container I keep my dishes in + a towel + hot water from our coffeemaker. 24 hours later = yogurt! Amazingly, it worked. This was especially shocking because I accidentally over boiled the milk (GAH what a mess, and it’s definitely not supposed to reach 212 degrees) and scalded the bottom of the pot. I was busy boiling the mason jars and forgot how fast a 1/2 gallon of milk heats up, when I am used to cooking 2 gallons at home. Anyway, I am very excited because it worked and I now have 2 quarts of delicious probiotic-laden yogurt. At this rate, I think I’ll have to make more next weekend!
Here is roughly what I did. I found a “recipe” where the person making it did not mention specific temperatures (I liked this because of my lack of thermometer) and then made it how I was taught. This might seem complicated at first, but once you do it you’ll see its really quite simple.
You’ll need organic milk and organic yogurt with active cultures to start – I used Fage Greek yogurt, because I wanted strong cultures, but you can use any plain yogurt, really.
1. Heat the milk until almost boiling point. Watch out! As you know the milk will boil over. So at the point of boiling, when you see the milk start rising and eager to mess up your stove, TURN THE HEAT OFF! (Where I messed up…) Officially, the temperature should be 185 degrees.
2. Let it cool down but you want to work with it warm. So stick your finger in and if you can tolerate it for 10 seconds while still feeling the warmth, you’re good to go. AKA: 110 degrees.
3. Mix in about 1/4 cup of yogurt cultures (the Greek one I mentioned).
4. Pour into mason jars, cover, and keep at 110 degrees for 6-24 hours. The longer you let it sit the less casein and milk sugar remains; at home we keep it in a dehydrator set at 110 for 24 hours. But I believe it is considered yogurt after about 6 hours, if you really want to cut it short. For me, I kept it at 110 for 12 hours (like I mentioned above), setting the jars in a covered container of water and wrapping it with a beach towel. I checked it every 1 1/2 hours or so, adding hot water as needed. It wasn’t TOO big of a hassle, but it definitely made the hours of the day go by strangely fast…
5. After your desired amount of time as passed, place it in the refrigerator until chilled.
6. Enjoy! I like to add just cut up apples, but any other fruit/granola (if you tolerate grains) would taste great, I’m sure. Or even some vanilla, or some exotic things…the choices are endless.
(I am by no means a yogurt expert, but this is what has worked for me. There are many other little variations out there, some more complex/simple than others. Experiment and figure out what you like!)