Homemade Yogurt & Granola

040910 061-1 Within about the last year and a half, I have become quite the fermented milk fan! From kefir to yogurt to lacto-fermented mayonnaise, there is always some kind of milk product sitting out on my counter, working it’s probiotic, yeast-culturing magic; turning plain old milk into something so much more healthy and delicious.

Some of my children find this disgusting, and refuse to touch anything in the fridge that is kept in a Mason Jar. Others have jumped right in and love to drink our daily kefir smoothies, or eat “stirring yogurt” (Little J’s name for homemade yogurt-because you get to “stir-in” whatever flavor or additives you want-like the granola recipe at the bottom of the page). Kefir is my sour-milk of choice, but a nice thick yogurt is always great to have around as well. I will show you some of my kefir-growing soon, but if you are new to kefir check out this great website.

Another great thing about homemade yogurt, besides the superior taste and nutritional value, is how cheap it is to make. For just about the cost of milk (especially after your first batch when you now have your own yogurt starter to use for the next batch), you can also have yogurt. We have been getting our milk from a local dairy, so I also love being able to turn good, fresh milk into creamy, delicious, no-preservative-or-other-additives yogurt.

Making Yogurt

In a saucepot, stir together milk and dry milk powder. Powdered milk is an optional ingredient, but it does help make for a thicker yogurt. If you are using a thermometer, attach it to the side of the pan and bring milk to 185°F-200°F, stirring often. If you are not using a thermometer, bring milk just barely to a boil and then remove from heat immediately. If the milk has developed a foam on top, skim this off.

Fill a clean sink with about 2-3 inches of ice water (just make sure that the water level is low enough that when you add the pan of milk, it comes about halfway up pan). Set pan of hot milk into the ice water bath. Let milk cool to about 110°F (without a thermometer: baby-bottle warm), stirring often. This should take about 10 mins. If you leave your milk too long, and it gets too cool, just reheat slightly on the stove until it reaches 110°F.

040910 0431-1 Gently stir yogurt starter (just plain, unsweetened yogurt, preferably not non-fat) into milk. The first time you make your own yogurt, you will need to buy this. Try to get a high quality, plain yogurt with no pectin added (or other additives). For future batches of yogurt, save a small amount of your own yogurt to use as a starter the next time.

Yogurt needs to incubate between 98°F and 113°F. If the temperature is too low, the yogurt will not reproduce and you will have a runny final product. Temperatures over 118°F will kill the yogurt culture. An easy place to maintain this temperature range is in a cooler. I usually make 3 quarts of yogurt at a time (plus a little extra to use as starter the next time). This cooler fits my 3 quart-sized yogurt jars, one half-pint jar, plus 2 hot water jars for maintaining a nice warm good-bacteria growing temperature.

While the milk is cooling, I fill two quart-sized jars with boiling water and place them in a towel-lined cooler. Once I have mixed the milk with the yogurt starter, I put my yogurt-filled jars in the cooler with the hot water-filled jars.

040910 065-1 Not shown in the above photo is the small half-pint jar that I also fill and add to the cooler. It serves as the starter for the next batch of yogurt I make. You can also just save the last part of one of your quart jars, but this way, I don’t forget and eat the whole jar, and it stays sealed until I am ready to make more yogurt.

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Wrap the towel around the jars.

040910 066-1 Close the cooler and let the yogurt incubate for 8-12 hours. I like yogurt on the tart side, so I usually let it stay for a full 12 hours.

040910 068-1 Transfer jars to the refrigerator. Do not open or shake the jars until they have completely chilled in the refrigerator.

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Delicious, thick creamy yogurt!

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For an even better treat, top your homemade yogurt with some homemade granola!

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RECIPES:

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Homemade Yogurt

Equipment:
Canning jars and lids** (see note at bottom)
Small cooler
Bath towel
Candy/frying thermometer (optional)

Per quart jar of yogurt:
4 cups milk (whole milk is best)**
3 Tbs dry milk powder (optional, but it makes for a thicker yogurt)
2 Tbs plain yogurt

For 3 quarts of yogurt + one 1/2 pint jar (for starter)**:
3 quarts whole milk
1/2 cup (slightly heaping) dry milk powder
1/3 cup, heaping, (or 6 Tbs) plain yogurt

In a saucepot, stir together milk and dry milk powder. If you are using a thermometer, attach it to the side of the pan and bring milk to 185°F-200°F, stirring often. If you are not using a thermometer, bring milk just barely to a boil and then remove from heat immediately. If the milk has developed a foam on top, skim this off.

Fill a clean sink with about 2-3 inches of ice water (just make sure that the water level is low enough that when you add the pan of milk, it comes about halfway up pan). Set pan of hot milk into the ice water bath. Let milk cool to about 110°F (without a thermometer: baby-bottle warm), stirring often. This should take about 10 mins. If you leave your milk too long, and it gets too cool, just reheat slightly on the stove until it reaches 110°F.

While milk is cooling, boil some water (about 2 quarts if you are making 3 quarts of yogurt) and pour it into clean jars. Top with lids. Place in a towel-lined cooler. If you are making a lot of yogurt and using a large cooler, you can also just put a pan of just boiled water in the bottom of the towel-lined cooler.

Remove milk from cold water bath, and gently stir in yogurt. Pour into sterile glass jars.** Top with lids and screw top rings. Place jars of milk in the cooler with the hot water jars. Wrap towel around tops of jars and close cooler.

Let incubate for 8-12 hours. Do not open cooler during this time. You need to maintain a temperature between 98°F and 113°F. If the temperature is too low, the yogurt will not reproduce and you will have a runny final product. Temperatures over 118°F will kill the yogurt culture.

Remove yogurt jars from the cooler and place in the refrigerator to chill. Do not open jars or shake or stir yogurt until well chilled.

**NOTE: When I make yogurt, I like to make an additional jar (a small half-pint jar) to save as starter for the next batch. Using the full amount of milk given above will give you enough extra for this small jar. If you are not going to make an additional small jar, then reduce the milk by a few tablespoons per quart.

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Homemade Granola

10 cups rolled oats
2 cups coarsely chopped raw almonds
2 cups coarsely chopped raw pecans
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2 tsp cinnamon (use more for a stronger flavor)
1 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 cups honey (or half honey/half pure maple syrup)
1 Tbs vanilla extract
2-3 cups dried fruit: raisins, cranberries, blueberries, cherries(optional)
1 cup shredded/flaked coconut (unsweetened, if possible)(optional)

Preheat oven to 325°F.

In a large bowl, mix together oats, nuts, wheat germ, sunflower, flax and sesame seeds, and cinnamon.

Heat coconut oil until melted. Stir in honey and/or maple syrup and vanilla. Stir into oat mixture.

Pour onto a large baking dish. Bake at 325°F for 90 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Cook until granola is golden brown.

Cool.

Optional: stir in dried fruit. I like to store the granola without the fruit mixed in, and then add different kinds of dried fruit when I am serving the granola (saves on different kids picking out different kinds of fruit!).

Yield: This makes A LOT (more than 20 cups)! It can easily be halved, but it also stores really well in the freezer (in Ziploc bags). Freeze before adding dried fruit.

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4 Comments

Filed under Breakfast/Brunch, Condiments/Sauces, Tips and Tutorials

4 responses to “Homemade Yogurt & Granola

  1. I have always wanted to try making yogurt. You make it sound so easy. Thanks for the recipe.

  2. This is just brilliant! I have been making my yogurt off and on for a couple years now, but I have had to run to the store one too many times to get a new starter. I will do it your way now and know that I will never have to do that again. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for the yogurt tips. We started making yogurt is some fancy yogurt heater, but the cooler method works so much better. We love mixing kefir and yogurt together in the morning. It’s delicious.

  4. pip

    Have you tried VietNamese style yogurt that uses sweetened condensed milk? Divine! There is a great recipe on Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen website.

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