Tag Archives | homemade yogurt

Giveaway: Yogotherm from Hobby Hill Farm Fresh

yogotherm box - Food in Jars

I’ve been making yogurt at home off and on for years. I started doing it because I was trying to reduce the amount of plastic that was coming into my kitchen and all those quart tubs seemed like a good place to start. I kept doing it because I found that it was easy, immensely satisfying, budget friendly, and produced delicious yogurt. I often suggest homemade yogurt to friends and blog readers who are looking for an easy and satisfying homemade dairy project.

yogotherm canister - Food in Jars

For years now, my favorite method for keeping the yogurt warm during the culturing stage was to use a cooler. However, it was also the cooler that often deterred me from making yogurt. In my apartment, the only space large enough for a cooler is up at the top of my hall closet. To pull it out or put it away again involves a step stool and the momentary relocation of the things living in front of it. Sad to say, but dread of playing tetris with my storage area was often

heating milk - Food in Jars

Thankfully, Sharon from Hobby Hill Farm Fresh came to my rescue, with the suggestion of the Yogotherm. It’s a product she uses in many of her classes, and has been the solution to my previous yogurt making resistance. The design is simple. It’s a food-safe plastic tub, nestled into an insulated canister.

You can either pour your heated and inoculated milk into a jar and set it into the Yogotherm, or you can pour it directly into the tub. The canister keeps the milk at the ideal temperature for the culture to take hold and transform the milk into yogurt.

cooling milk - Food in Jars

I’ve been making one quart at a time in my Yogotherm. I slowly warm four cups of organic whole milk to 180 degrees F. Once the milk reaches that temperature, I either set the pot into a sink full of cold water or (if I’ve used a pot that doesn’t handle radical temperature changes well), I pour the warm milk into a stainless steel bowl and let it cool for a moment or two. I’ve found that brisk whisking while the milk is cooling brings the temperature down quickly. Just make sure to watch the temperature so that it doesn’t cool too much.

inoculated milk - Food in Jars

Once the milk is around 120 degrees F, pull it out of the cold water and whisk in the culture. For my first batch, I used the yogurt culture that Sharon sent along with the Yogotherm. For subsequent batches, I’ve saved a few tablespoons of the yogurt from the previous batch to act as the starter for the next.

culturing yogurt - Food in Jars

Then I give the Yogotherm a quick rinse with boiling water to warm and clean it, nestle my jar into the canister (the container is made of food-safe plastic, I just like the ease of being able to pull the jar right out and pop it in the fridge when the yogurt is done), and pop the lid on. Because I like a tangy yogurt, I let it culture for five to eight hours, but for a less tart version, you can stop the culturing as soon as the milk thickens.

This week, Hobby Hill Farm Fresh is offering a special deal on the Yogotherm. It’s on sale for $46.95 (down from $57.95) and will ship with packets of two different yogurt cultures and a jar of their house brand preserves. Additionally, I have one Yogotherm pack (same as what you’d get if you bought it) to give away this week.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your gateway DIY project. Yogurt making? Bread baking? Canning? Or something else?
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, November 28, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, November 29, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Sent me the Yogotherm you see here, as well as a few yogurt cultures, for review and photography purposes at no cost to me. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions remain my own. 

Homemade Yogurt in Mason Jars

My personal yogurt consumption goes up and down. I’ll go for weeks eating it every day and then suddenly, I’ll stop and a month will go by before I have it again. I have no good explanation for this. It’s just the way things happen in my edible world.

I’m currently is a very pro-yogurt phase. I’ve been eating more than a quart a week and started feeling guilt about consuming so many plastic containers. It was time to restart my homemade yogurt habit.

thermometer in milk

Truly, making yogurt at home couldn’t be easier. I stop doing it out of laziness, but once I force myself back into the routine of it, I’m always glad (sounds like so many things in life, doesn’t it?).

The first step is to heat the milk to 190-200 degrees F. You can use any milk you’d like. I made this batch using six cups of whole, un-homogenized milk (because it’s not homogenized, the cream will rise to the top, leaving me with a gorgeous, rich upper layer).

cooling milk

Once it reaches that temperature (take care not to let it boil), you want to cool the milk down to 120 degrees F. I do this by filling my sink with cold water and placing the pot in. The water helps reduce the temperature quite rapidly, so don’t walk away during this step.

pouring milk

Once it has cooled to 120 degrees F, whisk two tablespoons of yogurt into the milk. Over the years, I’ve tried using various amounts of yogurt to start my batches and I’ve actually found that the smaller amounts work better than larger amounts. A tablespoon for every 3-4 cups of milk just seems to work perfectly.

There was also a time during which I stirred some dry milk into each batch of yogurt I made. I’d heard it made for a thicker yogurt. In the end, I decided it had no discernable positive impact on the finished product and, if anything, left me with lumpy yogurt.

ready to incubate

Once you’ve stirred the yogurt in, pour the inoculated milk into your jars. You’ll see that my jars aren’t entirely full. There’s no reason why you can’t fill them up to the top. I just didn’t have enough milk in the fridge to make a full batch. However, I filled the jars evenly because I wanted to ensure that they’d process at the same rate.

A note about the starter yogurt you use: Make sure to use a yogurt that you like. There are a number of different yogurt bacterias out there and they all turn out slightly different yogurts. Splurge on the starter in order to make something you’re happy with.

cooler for yogurt

There are a number of ways you can keep your yogurt warm during it’s process. Some people have little machines. Others pop the jars in the oven with the light on. I’ve even heard that you can use a slow cooker or hot pads.

After trying all those methods, I’ve come to prefer using a cooler for this step (hat tip to the Frugal Girl for introducing me to this method). This Little Playmate holds two quart jars perfectly. I got it at a thrift store several years ago for a couple dollars, which has always pleased me.

jars of milk in cooler

Place your filled jars into the cooler and add hot tap water until they’re submerged, but not floating. You want the water to be around 120-125 degrees F. I’ve found that this is exactly how hot my hottest tap water is, so I use that. Makes life easy, too.

homemade yogurt

Once the jars are in the cooler and it’s filled with water, close it and tuck it out of the way for 6-7 hours. You can go as long as 8-9 hours, but keep in mind that the longer it sits, the more pronounced its tang will be. When I was working, I’d often start a batch of yogurt just before I left the house in the morning and let it process all day. It made for a tart yogurt, but I loved the simplicity of it.

When the time is up, remove the jars from the cooler and place them in the fridge. Use your homemade yogurt like you would any other kind of yogurt. If you’re interested in transforming your yogurt into a thicker product (along the lines of greek yogurt), all you do is strain it. Well Preserved has a good post on that, as well as suggestions for using up the resulting whey.

For those of you who regularly make yogurt, do you have any tips to share?

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Open Jars: Homemade Fruit on the Bottom Yogurt

Weck jars with fruit-on-the-bottom homemade yogurt (photo courtesy of Paige Colbert)

We’ve got our first Open Jars guest post today. This one comes from Paige from Oregon (she doesn’t have a blog, but you can follow her on Twitter here). A couple of months ago, she emailed me to ask my opinion on making fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt. I had to claim ignorance on the matter, as at heart I’m essentially a lazy cook, who simply scoops yogurt and jam together and stirs until combined. But I asked that if she decided to tackle the project that she tell me how it turned out. Well, she had great success (and used adorable Weck jars to boot). Here’s what Paige had to say.

I did it, and it worked great! After thinking about it a lot, I found myself making plain yogurt without enough time to make anything else, but remembered some half-full jars of jam in the refrigerator. I heated some strawberry-rhubarb and strawberry together, then some pear spice in a separate container until bubbly.

Then I spooned a tablespoon of jam into the bottom of a boiled jar and let cool maybe an hour. When the milk was ready, I added 1/2 cup per jar. I used a regular funnel (not a canning funnel) and kind of aimed it at the side of the jar and the jam wasn’t disturbed at all! The milk thickened up perfectly and I tried one and think the 1:8 ratio of jam to yogurt is just about perfect.

Interestingly, the 8 hours at 105 degrees made the jars seal! I’m not going to take the clips off, though, because I fear they would unseal at room temperature.

Thanks so much, Paige!

Also, thanks to all of you who entered the giveaway for Shae’s book earlier this week. There were 249 entries across the blog and Facebook and the winner is #46, the Windy City Vegan.

Update: No, homemade yogurt is not stored at room temperature. Paige was simply commenting on the fact that the jars created a seal thanks to the gentle heating period that the yogurt needs to set. Yogurt must be kept in the refrigerator. I have not done a post on homemade yogurt, but I’m planning to soon (I know, I’ve said that before. This time I mean it). However, if you’re anxious to get started, my process is very much like the one that The Frugal Girl details here.

Also, when Paige refers to the milk, she actually means the scalded milk that has been cooled and mixed with the yogurt starter. She didn’t tell me how she incubates her yogurt, but I do mine in a cooler filled with water that’s been warmed to approximately 190 degrees. The cooler keeps the heat of the water well contained and allows the yogurt a chance to set nicely.

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