These days, a quick trip to the grocery store will reveal an ever-increasing number of yogurt flavors. So, why learn to make your own yogurt when you can easily rush to the nearest grocery store and grab several cups? Well, for starters, doing it yourself gives you the chance to learn many facts about yogurt. For example, did you know that pasteurized milk makes the best yogurt? If you didn’t, now you do, and here is a complete guide on how to make yogurt from pasteurized milk.
What You Need:
- Milk – You can make yogurt from whole milk, 2% skimmed milk, organic and local milk. However, pasteurized milk makes the best yogurt, and that is what we shall use in this discussion.
- Starter culture – The options available for your starter culture include powdered starter culture, store-bought yogurt, or homemade yogurt from a previous batch.
- Yogurt Incubator – The incubator is important for maintaining your milk and culture mix at about 110 F to 115 F for close to five hours. Therefore, options available to you include a yogurt maker, thermos, or heat keeper jugs. You can also use several mason jars filled with hot water and placed in a cooler. Feel free to get creative as long as you maintain the needed temperatures for the required amount of time, and you ensure equal distribution of heat throughout the incubator to prevent the occurrence of some hot and cool spots.
- Other requirements – include heavy, large pots, candy thermometer (preferably one with a clip for attachment), large spoon or whisk, storage containers, cheesecloth, colander, ladle, both large and small bowls.
How to make yogurt from pasteurized milk
1. Clean all your tools
Did you know that you actually need a bacterium known as Lactobacillus bulgaricus to make good yogurt? Keeping in mind all the microorganisms, including other bacteria, present all around us, it is always advisable to wash and even sterilize all your yogurt making equipment and surfaces to avoid introducing other unwanted bacteria. Some clean their tools with boiling water, but thorough handwashing is also enough.
2. Heat the milk
While it is possible to make yogurt without heating the milk first, it is always advisable to first heat your pasteurized milk to the boiling point. This will help get rid of any bacteria present. Moreover, heating the milk for some extra minutes helps in concentrating it so that your yogurt can be thicker.
3. Cool the milk back
After heating your milk to the boiling point, cool it back down to 110 F-115 F. Make use of your thermometer to track the temperatures. You can also use an ice bath to speed up the process. Also, keep stirring to ensure even cooling.
4. Add your starter culture
When using a powdered starter, it is okay to whisk it in according to the amount specified on the packaging. However, when using yogurt as a starter culture, it is advisable to first isolate a small amount of the milk and keep adding it to the starter culture and stir until all of it has been mixed. This is because adding cold yogurt directly to the milk will slow down the incubation by suddenly dropping the temperatures too much.
Use your ladle to transfer the milk and culture mix to your incubator of choice. The main importance of incubation is to maintain your milk and culture mix at the stated temperature for 5 to 10 hours undisturbed. However, keep in mind that shorter incubation periods under cooler temperatures will produce sweeter, thinner yogurt while longer and hotter incubation periods will produce tarter and thicker yogurt.
6. Check if it is done
After the first 5 hours, it is okay to start checking hourly if your yogurt is done. When ready, your yogurt should start looking firm. Moreover, it will get more acidic with each passing hour.
7. Store your yogurt
Once your yogurt is done, it is okay to put it in the fridge. It will be sweeter within the first few days, but after that, it will start tasting sour over time. It will remain good for about two weeks.
Final Words on How to Make Yogurt from Pasteurized Milk
While pasteurized milk makes the best yogurt, use ultra-pasteurized milk does not culture as easily as regular pasteurized milk and some people have reported failed incubation when using ultra-pasteurized milk to make yogurt. Having given this advice, I will admit that I have not had this problem and I have been using ultra-pasteurized milk to make yogurt for years.