Neverending Yogurt

Since my re-entry into the world of blogs (that’s right, I kept one on and off in high school and no, you can’t have a link) my way of thinking about my subject (food, duh) has really evolved. Pre-packaged, artificial stuff just doesn’t have a place in my diet or my life anymore. Not when I know I can make it myself and not be horribly disappointed (unless I really screw up a recipe, but that’s not often).

Enter yogurt. Those fat-free, 100-calorie, any-flavored little single servings used to get me through the last couple hours of my shifts at the record store. I didn’t even eat fruit-on-the-bottom – just the overly creamy sugarless monstrosities. You know the ones. Shortly after leaving that job, I became acquainted with the joys of Greek yogurt, drizzled with honey and a few chopped nuts. I’ve been eating it for breakfast usually a few times a week with homemade marmalade or jam and raw oats. Until a few days ago, though, I had no idea it was something I really should be making at home.

pickle jar lid with yogurt written on it
I knew there was a reason I diligently washed that pickle jar.

I came across this list and figured I might as well give the yogurt a try, considering I had a couple yogurt recipes knocking around in my head. I was amazed that it was apparently so easy and not entirely sure that it would work. But it was worth a shot, and if I could pull it off and keep a chain of it going then I’d never have to buy yogurt again (though I’m not planning on keeping it going during my move for school, that doesn’t seem like a good idea, so I will have to buy it at least once more).

How did it turn out?

really bitchin creamy thick yogurt
Yup, it's yogurt.

Let’s just say I don’t ever want to go back to storebought. It’s creamy and rich (it probably doesn’t hurt that I used full-fat milk, as it’s just what we keep in the house, but next time I’ll probably try reduced-fat), smooth with just a hint of tang instead of the offputting sourness that even some more expensive plain yogurts have.

yogurt, honey, pistachios, awesome
Oh, honey, what DON'T you make better? (Answer: coffee, probably. That sounds pretty nasty.)

This is delicious just with a light drizzle of honey and some chopped unsalted pistachios, though walnuts or almonds would be just as good. It’s also tasty enough to stand alone with some fresh chopped fruit. I know I won’t have the compulsion to drown it in preserves when I have some for breakfast.

yogurt, honey, pistachios, more awesome
This was such a tasty little snack.

I could have left the yogurt the way it was, but I had to take the extra step and strain it for a few hours in a (clean!) pillowcase to get that awesome Greek yogurt texture. I now have a big bottle of greenish whey in the fridge that I don’t know what to with really, beyond using it in place of regular water for bread.

And don’t say “drink it” because I’m not doing that. No.

yogurt, honey, pistachios, yay!
Pistachio is an awesome color.

If you’re still silly enough to be paying for yogurt, stop! Try this instead! You’ll never go back, I promise.

Homemade Yogurt (from Harold McGee’s recipe)

jar o' yogurt
This jar looks a lot bigger than it is - I got 4-5 cups out of the batch (and by batch I mean pillowcase).
  1. 8 cups (1/2 gallon) milk (fat content is up to you)
  2. 4 Tbsp plain yogurt

In a large pot (I used my big soup post for everything up to the draining), heat the milk to about 180-190F. It will steam and form some bubbles but will not be boiling. Remove from heat and allow to cool, uncovered, until it’s about 115-120F. Spoon a little bit of the milk into the yogurt and stir to thin the yogurt, then add it to the milk. You can transfer this to a bowl and leave it in a cooling oven, or keep it in the same pot, covered and wrapped in a towel, like I did. Let it rest overnight. It will smell weird and borderline yogurt-y before it’s done. When it’s yogurt, you can tell. If you want it thicker, you can strain it in a clean pillowcase. Either hang the pillowcase over a large bowl jelly bag-style, or let it sit in a strainer that’s somehow suspended. I used the jelly bag method. Reserve the whey and refrigerate for later use in bread or whatever. Allow to strain for up to 6 hours, until your yogurt is as thick as you want it. Place in one large or several small sterile containers, seal and refrigerate. You can make this endlessly if you reserve the final few spoonfuls for the next batch.

I have something yummy made of this yogurt that I can’t wait to share, and plan to use the rest of the batch towards my entry (first one, anyway) to this month’s Iron Cupcake. Yogurt is awesome!


  1. We made yogurt in my microbiology lab a couple of weeks ago, and it smelled really bad. It was the right texture, it just smelled decidedly off. Please tell me this is just because of our weird yogurt-making process (we used powdered milk, and I’m not really sure about how long it sat out, but I’m guessing at least a day)!

  2. I’ve heard that most low-fat milks have additives that will create some harsh flavors in homemade yogurt. Maybe you can find some additive-free stuff.

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