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how to make homemade yogurt…

how to make homemade yogurt with blueberries, raspberries and strawberries

my breakfast – homemade yogurt with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and some Grape-Nuts

updated: March 2020

How do I make homemade yogurt?

People who know me, also know I’ve made my own yogurt for years (decades) now. Some have asked in passing about a yogurt “recipe”, but for some reason I never got around to it. So, as Laura recently told me “give the people what they want!”.😂

Making your own yogurt is easier than you think, and the taste can’t be beat! My family of four goes through 1-2 batches (a batch being eight, six-ounce jars) a week through the winter months and 2-3 batches per week through the spring and summer. In the spring and summer there is so much fresh fruit available to mix in, plus we make a ton of smoothies, and I use the yogurt in place of mayo and/or sour cream in some recipes, especially dips and sauces. Everything you need to make homemade yogurt, you probably already have on hand (with the exception of the yogurt maker, if you go that route). Simple recipe, simple ingredients. In some of the pictures you’ll see the Donvier Yogurt Maker and jars. The Donvier is now away at college with Thing 2, so I now use my oven and canning jars, and prefer it. There are a lot of different methods out there, this is mine…

Items you will need to get started…

  • clean, sterilized jars(*) I use 1/2 pint, and pint canning jars
  • milk (6 cups for this recipe)
  • yogurt starter (2 T.)
  • a large bowl that is easy to pour from (I use an 8 cup Pyrex glass measuring cup)
  • a small bowl
  • whisk
  • candy or other cooking thermometer
  • a consistently warm place such as an oven with a light you can leave on (optional: yogurt maker)

 how to make homemade yogurt - jars for homemade yogurt

note: If you choose to buy a yogurt maker, it will most likely be your only real expense in undertaking your own homemade yogurt. If you buy a yogurt maker, get extra jars, you will need them. Otherwise you will have to empty all of your jars every time you want to make a new batch, and it’s a pain. Yogurt makers can generally be found at specialty kitchen stores, and of course, online. I originally chose the Donvier yogurt maker because:

  • 1.  it was recommended to me (I’m big on listening to people I trust)
  • 2.  it held 8 jars instead of 6 or 7
  • 3.  it has very simple operating instructions

Milk:  use what ever milk you usually drink as long as it is pasteurized. You must use pasteurized milk because yogurt is all about growing the specific yogurt bacteria, and you don’t want to grow anything unintended. I drink fat-free milk, so that is what I use.

how to make homemade yogurt - Chobani yogurt

Yogurt starter:  you need about 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt. This is probably the most important part of this process. If you want to make yogurt you like, you need to start with yogurt you like. Novel concept, huh? 🙂 If you don’t like it when you start, you will not magically like it when you’ve finished. You MUST select a plain yogurt with NO artificial anything.  NO added sugar or fruit, nothing.  PLAIN yogurt. That means the ingredient list should consist of cultured pasteurized milk, and live and active cultures. That’s it. Personally, my favorite is Chobani Plain Greek(**). I LOVE the flavor of this yogurt, and I really can’t overstate the importance of finding a yogurt you like. You can also find a selection of powdered starters in some specialty stores (or order online). While this is a perfectly viable option, it is not the course of action I would recommend unless you really have no other choice, since you have no idea how this yogurt will taste until you’re done.

Bowls:  a large bowl that will hold at least 6 cups of milk plus a couple of tablespoons of starter and leave you plenty of room for whisking it all together. Unless you are extremely talented at pouring liquid from bowls, I would advise something with a spout. You will also need a small bowl to mix the starter and milk. You can use one of the yogurt jars for this, but I prefer to just use a separate bowl.

Whisk:  any medium to large size whisk will do, as long as it fits in both of the bowls you will be using.

Thermometer: any cooking thermometer that will register as high as 185ºF and as low as 110ºF.

Step 1:  you will need to scald your milk (bring it to 185ºF-190ºF). You can do this on the stove-top with a double-boiler, but most of the time I just use my microwave. If you choose to use your microwave, it will take a little trial and error on your part to figure out the exact timing. My microwave is rated at 1100 W and I heat my milk for 5 minutes, take it out and stir it, and then another 6 minutes, and stir it again, to reach the necessary 185ºF.

how to make homemade yogurt - hot milk for homemade yogurt

Step 2:  once your milk has reached 185ºF, remove it from heat, place it on a hot pad or trivet, and put it in a safe location to cool down to 110º-115ºF, stirring occasionally to keep a skin from forming. Make sure you check frequently so you don’t miss the “temperature window”. For me this takes about 40 minutes in a 68º-70ºF house.

homemade yogurt starter in small bowl

While the milk is cooling spoon about 2 tablespoons of your chosen yogurt starter into the small bowl and let it come up to room temperature. This is also a good time to set out your jars, and make sure everything is ready.

cooling milk for homemade yogurt

Step 3:  when your milk reaches the 110º-115ºF temperature window, pour a small amount of the cooled milk – just a couple of teaspoons-  into the yogurt starter and gently whisk until you have a smooth even consistency.

homemade yogurt

Repeat this step until the yogurt/milk blend is a very runny liquid.

homemade yogurt

Step 4:  slowly add your starter/milk blend to the remaining milk, whisking constantly until it’s fully incorporated. Whisk enough to blend well, but not so much as to create foam.

homemade yogurt

Step 5:  pour your milk into the jars and place the lids on top.

homemade yogurt in Donvier yogurt maker

Step 6:  place jars into a baking dish with 1-2 inches of hot tap water, and place into oven with the light on <or> put the jars into your yogurt maker, and select the length of time you wish for the yogurt maker to run and press Start!  It’s that easy! 🙂

homemade yogurt

Step 7:  when your yogurt has finished, place it in the refrigerator to chill for 8 hours or overnight.

Step 8:  enjoy!  Stir in your favorite fruit… make a smoothie… use it on your tacos instead of sour cream…

Random tips:

  • making your own yogurt has all sorts of awesome benefits, which I’m sure you already have looked into. But one amazing benefit that no one tells you about…? how amazing fresh, warm yogurt smells!  Mmmm… It’s almost as good as the smell of fresh bread.
  • for reasons I have yet to understand (freshness of the milk, cycle of the moon…) occasionally my yogurt has more whey separate  than usual. Whey is a thick, clear-ish liquid along the sides or on top of the yogurt. If it bothers you, you can strain it off (but you will lose the protein contained in it), or just stir it back in when you are ready to eat. Remember, you just made fresh yogurt without all those chemical interventions, it might look a tad bit different than you are used to. 😉

  • when you are ready to make your next batch, just use 2-3 tablespoons of your last batch as the new starter.
  • when I get an unexpected result, I buy a new container of yogurt for starter, and start over.
  • if you want to use your yogurt to replace mayonnaise or sour cream, you will want to strain it first to give it a thicker consistency. I place a coffee filter set into a mesh strainer, spoon in the yogurt, and set it all in the refrigerator until it’s reached the right thickness. I don’t use yogurt to replace ingredients that need to be cooked as it tends to break down.
  •  yogurt will get tarter and firmer the longer it develops so if you like a softer, sweeter yogurt, you might want to ripen your yogurt for about 7 hours and see if that’s about right for you. If you like your yogurt a little firmer and tarter start at around 10 hours. I really don’t like sweet yogurt, so I let mine go for 12 hours.
  • I frequently let my yogurt develop overnight, and it’s ready to pop in the fridge the next morning.
  • fresh, plain yogurt can be stored in the refrigerator for about two weeks.

So that’s it.  Pretty easy huh?  I’ve never created a recipe for something I just “do” before, so if there are any steps that need a little clarification, please ask! I’m happy to answer any questions you have, and hope you tell me all about your first batch of yogurt! Oh, and send pictures of course! I’d love to add any of your experiences to this post. 🙂 Thank you to those of you who requested this, it was a lot of fun to put this all together for you!

keep the green side up,
~Beth

*  I sterilize my jars by running them through the sanitize cycle on my dishwasher.

**  Greek yogurt is yogurt that has been strained of its whey for a thicker consistency and higher protein. Unfortunately, as greek yogurt becomes more popular some companies are cutting costs by using thickening agents and protein powders to mimic the taste, texture and high protein. The latest information I can find says Chobani and Fage still make their greek yogurt by straining it.

***  If you have the Donvier Yogurt Maker it comes with a handy-dandy little thermometer that has two little lines to let you know when you’re in the right range.

originally published March 2013

published? me?!…

 

ShutterLoveOnline

 

Holy cow!  What a ride this last year has been for me!  And a new highlight that happened at the end of 2012, but I didn’t find out about until last night…?  I’ve been published!!  That’s right!  I can hardly believe it!  That was a lot of exclamation points… sorry… I’ll try to get myself under control here.

So, I’m going to add a link to my first published post  12 Fabulous Holiday Gifts for Photographers  on The Nielsen Group’s new site ShutterLove, even though it is a little late now to truly use it the way it was intended.  However… if you didn’t find everything you wanted under the tree, here are a few little items to tempt you.  They are, of course, photography related 🙂

Did you check it out?  What did you think?  If you’d be so kind as to leave a comment on their site about how much you love their new writer, that would be nice.  🙂  And since you guys are my loyal readers, I have a couple of extras just for you 😉

nikon and canon mugs

1.  Lens mugs – for the person in your life that just can’t get enough photography goodness, let them start their day off right!  Available for the Canon or Nikon lover, these are sure to get noticed!  $24*.  Up to $35* for the extra-large size.

memory cards

2.  Memory cards – an essential for any photographer.  A good memory card can help you capture great memories for years!  Make sure you get the right class and size for your camera.  Prices vary depending on size.  8GB for $8*  click here

nikon D3200 camera3.  Camera –  want to stand out in a sea of sameness?  Then this is the camera for you!  Sporting a beautiful shiny red exterior with fabulous Nikon goodness on the inside… what more could you ask for?!  Nikon D3200 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR NIKKOR Zoom lens.  $596.95  click here

As this new year gets underway, I have a ton of ideas I’m super excited to share with all of you!  Some of you have asked specific questions, or made suggestions about things you would like to know more about.  If there is something you just would love to hear about, let me know!  Pleeeeease. 🙂

~Beth

self-criticism and denial…

self-criticism

I had an epiphany a while ago (dramatic huh?). Why are we (women particularly) so hard on ourselves? As a whole I believe we are overly self-critical. From the minute details, all they way to the biggest production, we seem to see all that we are lacking, what we didn’t accomplish… the failures. Yet when we have an achievement, we seem to dismiss it. “Oh, it was nothing.” “It’s not that big a deal.” Why? What is wrong with us?! 

Why is it so hard to give ourselves the pat on the back that we deserve? Sometimes our self-criticism goes too far and leads to denial or dismissal of our achievements. A couple of months ago I ran a 5K race. I had worked hard, prepared and trained for it. It was my first race after an injury so I hadn’t planned on doing anything amazing, just to finish at a comfortable pace and without any aggravation to recently healed injuries. I’ll spare you all the race details, but as I stumbled around in my post-race exhaustion and checked my watch, disbelief set in. I PR’d (personal record) by over a minute and a half ! That’s huge! It was a good race, I knew that, and I knew I ran hard, but my first thought…?  The course must have been short – I asked a volunteer about the accuracy of the distance. When I went home, I even mapped it on Google to verify the distance. I took what should have been a moment of happiness, and pride, and tainted it with my own self-doubt.

If you are like me, you have become proficient in minimizing your contributions. I would love to say that I’ll never belittle my own accomplishments again, but I know that is too soon for so lofty a goal. So, for now, when I see my husband tonight and he asks how the day went, instead of telling him what went wrong and didn’t get done, I’ll tell him about all that I did do.

What about you? What did you do today that deserves a pat on the back? And you… the mom with the screaming two-year old who didn’t scream back… not only do your deserve a pat on the back, you deserve ice cream too.

~Beth

doing something just for me…

race bibs

Sometimes we skimp on those who matter most.  We don’t do it intentionally.  It’s just that… well they’re always there, so they will always be there. Right?  For me though, a countdown has begun. My oldest daughter heads off to college in the fall, and she will no longer be here. There is no time left to complete all the things I planned to do with her before she “grew up”. So now I’m in a mad dash to capture the little things that we take for granted.

Thanks to a gentle nudge from a class I’ve been participating in, the last few weeks I’ve been more intentional about photographing the moments in my own family. At first it felt a bit selfish, and I was concerned my family would soon tire of the camera being pointed at them, and the curtain would drop on my endeavor. Surprisingly though, they have not only complied with my requests, but have been quite supportive. I should have given them more credit.

So this photo shoot is just for me.

All families have hobbies and activities they do together, and our family is no different. We do have one activity however, that proves a little problematic to record in pictures.

We run.

All of us.

Together.

Well… sort of. We start out together anyway 🙂 but certain uhm… fast younger individuals, finish ahead of other, slower slightly older, individuals. So I set out to try and capture the spirit of this activity.

running shoes

running shoes

running shoes

What do you want to capture before it’s too late?

p.s.  if you’re in the area Saturday, come cheer for us at The Twilight 5K 🙂

~Beth

stop sorting the socks…

mesh bags for socks

Moms, if you have kids, this post is for you. 🙂

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine on Facebook posted about how it was really the washing machine that eats socks, not the dryer. Long story short, I added a little comment about how I avoid not only losing socks, but having to sort them. The response was immediate, and, for lack of a better word, awed. So, I’m going to share with you one of my time-saving laundry tips.

mesh bags for socks

Bags…  Big.  Mesh.  Bags.

Each of my children have their own bag. When it’s time for laundry, they put all of their socks (this works for underwear, too!) into their bag. The bag goes into the washing machine, then over to the dryer. When the dryer finishes, I dump the contents onto their beds and let them match up their own socks! For any of you out there that have children near the same age, size, etc. you know how much time it can take to try and figure out what belongs with which child. Over the years, I’ve tried various ways of identifying individual belongings: making little marks on the soles or tags, only buying certain styles or colors, etc. This method has been by far the easiest, and quickest! 🙂

mesh bags for socks

The details. My washing machine is a front-loader. I don’t know if this would work with a top load machine (the bag might wrap around the agitator?). These bags are approximately 18″ x 24″, made by Tide, and are some that I picked up on my regular trip to Target. There are many bags out there, choose one you like. Let me know if this works for you, and pass it along to your friends who could use it!

~Beth

season of giving…

season of giving - make a donation

Hey all. I’m back after enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday.  I hope you all had a wonderful time doing something meaningful to you.

This week I want to share with you a tradition that I started when my children were just babies, and hopefully it will inspire you to try something similar in your own family.  The Christmas Trip.  I know that sounds all grandiose, but the destination is our local D.I. or Goodwill donation center.  It just so happens that my children have birthdays that fall in the autumn season.  This means that shortly before Christmas, there is an influx of stuff, so we set aside one day to go through all their stuff.  We go through toys, clothes, games, everything.  This serves a two-fold purpose.   It makes room for the things that will arrive Christmas morning.  It also gets items into our community at a time when they are very much needed.

My kids always choose to keep a few things that they have definitely outgrown, but have a sentimental attachment to.  They also always surprise me with how unselfish they are.  I believe children have a beautiful, giving, spirit.  And if we just give them the opportunity to do something that benefits others, it is a blessing to everyone involved.

We parents participate as well.  There always seem to be a couple of things in the closet that are never worn, or have (ah, hem) shrunk. 🙂

 

why do the moms cry?…

why do the moms cry - XC cross country awards oregon

We all stood in a loose semi-circle around the speaker.

 

It was a typical cool Northwest afternoon, but thankfully not raining. Most of the spectators had been at the park for at least two hours, and the participants closer to four. It was the usual congratulatory speech for the most part, addressing the outstanding participants, thanking the parents and spectators and so on. We were all anxious for the awards to be handed out and then the speaker said something that really got my attention.

“Why do the moms cry?”

 

We were at the district cross country races, and both daughters were competing. The speaker was the track coach from one of the competing high schools. Track and cross country are completely different beasts, and this coach had just witnessed one of the unique experiences of cross country, and was genuinely baffled.

Now understand, this is not the tear-smeared, wailing, loud blowing-of-the-nose crying. This is the lump-in-the-chest, tears welling up, so-proud-you-could-burst, crying. He was right. And, I was totally guilty. And do you know what else? We moms don’t just cry for our own kids, we do it for other kids too! Kids we see just a few times each year, only know by first name, and probably wouldn’t recognize in their street clothes instead of their uniform.

why do the moms cry - xc cross country sherwood xc

Cross country in unique among team sports. I’m sure  you’ve heard the saying, “there is no I in team”. Well, in cross country, there sort of is. Every participant is competing as part of a team, doing their part in trying to get the lowest combined score. But they are also competing as individuals, trying to get a new PR (personal record) each time they race. Low scores qualify the team to move on to the State competition, while the fastest times can earn the individual runner a berth, regardless of team standing. Every person out there is pushing as hard as they can, doing the absolute best they can do. Every one of them run 3.1 miles, whether they do it in 15 minutes or 40 minutes. I for one am thankful I get to witness that kind of willpower – that tenacity of spirit.

why do the moms cry - XC cross country Nike pre-nationals

So, why do the moms cry?

 

While I certainly can’t speak for everyone, if you don’t understand, some things just can’t be explained.

~Beth

thankful…

thankful for the beautiful filbert hazelnut orchard

As we head into the month that celebrates thankfulness, I’m struck by just how amazing that is. A time to celebrate, being thankful.  It seems like it’s almost a lost concept in today’s go-go-go world. I think it’s beautiful, don’t you?

thankful for potatoes from the garden

Right now we are finishing putting our garden “to bed” (yes, I see the pun 🙂 )  for the winter. The plants are finished bearing, and have been pulled and composted. The winter and cover crops are planted. The over-wintering crops, mulched. It’s a process we go through every year, but this year is a little different. Why? Because we finished early on-time before the winter rains started.  This happened for a couple of different reasons. First, we had a few early cold weather scares that kept us from our usual desperate holdout. Second, we just plain ol’ burnt out.

thankful for home canned pears

I don’t know how many pints and quarts of garden goodness we canned this year, I lost count.There is not an empty mason jar in the house.

Food Saver bags… gone.

Every inch of freezer space… used.

And while there is more that could be done, I’m done. I am thankful for all our garden gives us, and I am thankful for a break from working in the garden.

thankful for fresh garden tomatoes

That’s one of the lovely things about giving thanks this time of year. We have this little break between the frantic excitement of summer, and “The Holidays”.

Right now, the house is warmed by a gentle fire in the stove. And those potatoes that were in the garden just a few weeks ago, are shining in their foil wrappers, baking for tonight’s dinner.

And I am so thankful for all of it. What are you thankful for?

~Beth

sticking with it…

sticking with it - cross country race bib

 

Sticking with it

Last week I reached a goal. It was something that, for many folks, wouldn’t be a big deal. For me, it was huge.

I set this goal back in January. It wasn’t a New Year’s Resolution per se, it’s just that January is a good time to evaluate where you are after the hectic hustle of the holidays (say that three times fast!). It is also the beginning of my “spring cleaning”, but that’s a whole other story! As with anything you work toward, there were times things went according to plan, and times that, well, not so much. That’s when it comes down to just sticking with it. So what’s the take away?

  • you can do things you don’t think you are capable of
  • it will be harder than you think
  • people will think you’re nuts
  • people will think you’re inspiring
  • it is so much easier if you get the folks closest to you on board

I am crazy blessed to have the best husband, and kids in the world! When you feel like it just isn’t worth it, having your own personal cheering section makes all the difference!

~Beth

well, there’s a first time for everything…

first time - nike shoes - running

Well, there’s a first time for everything… right?

What was I thinking? It was vacation after all. Camping. Roasting dinner and S’Mores over the fire. Bug-spray. Lots of bug-spray. You are entitled to a little rest and relaxation on vacation. Right? So why would I get up early, put on my running shoes, and then, go RUNNING?! Personally, I think it was peer pressure. Definitely peer pressure. Mr.Awesome and my youngest daughter decided it would be fun to go on a trail run together. So, the guilt kicked in, I laced up, and started out of the camping site loop, trailing behind my oldest daughter. That’s right. Me. At the tail end. And no, that’s not a surprise 😉

So if I can go running on vacation for the first time, then I can create a blog post for the first time too!  So come and join me on this new adventure.  Hopefully the growing pains of the blog-o-sphere won’t last longer than the shin-splints… 😉

~Beth