Although I’m in the mood for spring, Montana’s weather hasn’t been cooperating: we woke up to 10 inches of fresh snow on Monday. So it seems appropriate that I’ve been making and sharing hearty bean recipes in recent weeks in my Twice as Tasty column for the Flathead Beacon and on Fifth Season Fresh. These recipes can pair some of my summer freezer stash or spring green goodness with filling beans in dishes that bring a bright pop of flavor and warm me down to my chilly toes.
For a quick filling bean snack, check out the dip in my Flathead Beacon column this week. In it, I talk about choosing quality ingredients for simple recipes like bean dip. To my mind, that means homemade yogurt.
Learn more about flavoring bean dips and get the complete recipe for Creamy White Bean and Yogurt Dip in my column.
Make it, share it.
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I’ve been making yogurt for decades, and it’s one of my more popular workshops. I’ve shared my technique here on the blog as an add-on to making a quick, simple cheese. When that’s too much multitasking, you can easily make yogurt on its own. I’ve broken it out as a solo recipe here.
A couple of kitchen tools will help when you make yogurt. A thermometer will ensure you hit the target temperatures. A 1-quart thermos will keep the milk around 110°F while the culture is forming. A wide-mouth thermos is easiest to empty, but one with a narrow opening will still work. If you want thick yogurt, use whole milk and consider draining the finished yogurt through a wire-mesh colander or a larger-holed one lined with butter muslin.
Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just 2 main ingredients: milk and a little yogurt with live cultures. Ideally, neither has been ultrapasteurized.
1. Heat the milk and then let it cool.
2. Add the starter yogurt.
3. Let sit for several hours, and enjoy.
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4 cups whole or 2% milk
2–3 tablespoons plain yogurt with live cultures or yogurt starter
In a thick-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat, until the temperature is between 180°F and 190°F. Remove the milk from the heat and let it to cool to 105°F–115°F.
Pour the milk into a 1-quart wide-mouth thermos. Add the yogurt with live cultures, seal the thermos lid, and shake to distribute the starter yogurt. Let the mixture sit for 4 hours to overnight so that the curd can form.
Pour the yogurt from the thermos into a clean jar or container; for a thicker yogurt, first pour it into a wire-mesh colander set over a bowl and let it drain for at least 20 minutes, until the yogurt stops dripping readily. Store the finished yogurt in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Makes 1 quart.
Tips & Tricks
- Although you can buy yogurt-specific cultures online, you can get equally good results for your initial batch by purchasing plain yogurt with live cultures at a local store. Check the label to ensure it says “live cultures” (specific ones should be listed), and avoid ultrapasteurized milk and starter yogurt for the best results.
- Once you have made your first batch, you can set aside a few spoonfuls of yogurt from your latest batch to start a new one. This revolving starter will weaken over time, so plan to buy new yogurt starter when your homemade yogurt becomes runny.
- If you don’t have a thermos to hold the culturing yogurt, you can try putting it in a quart canning jar with a lid and then placing the jar in a gas oven with a pilot light, a slightly warm electric oven, a water bath, or a blanket. None of these techniques holds heat as well as a thermos. Dedicated yogurt makers and multicookers with a yogurt setting are also available if you make a lot of yogurt and have space for these appliances.
- If you add the starter yogurt at the right temperature and maintain that temperature, your yogurt should set every time. But if it cools at some point, you have a second chance at thickening: simply reheat the batch to 110°F, stir in 1 tablespoon of fresh starter, and let it sit another 4+ hours.
- If you follow the traditional method of draining your yogurt to thicken it, you can use the drained portion, or yogurt whey, in recipes from muffins to mashers.
Twice as Tasty
Now that you have Homemade Yogurt, stir it in when making Creamy White Bean and Yogurt Dip and see how delicious it is. Give the dip the complete Twice as Tasty treatment with these recipes and techniques:
- Homecooked cannellini beans
- Roasted Garlic
- Scratch-Made Sriracha in The Complete Guide to Pickling
- Homemade curry powder
- Scratch-made dippers, like Sourdough Pita Bread or Chips, Adaptable Sourdough Crackers, or Low-Gluten Sourdough Naan
You can use your fresh yogurt in other dips too. These are some of my favorites; you’ll find other yogurt-infused dips, as well as other recipes that can use homemade yogurt, in the recipe index.
Want more Twice as Tasty recipes? Get my books! Click here to order a personally signed, packaged, and shipped copy of The Complete Guide to Pickling directly from me. I also share tasty ways to use pickles in The Pickled Picnic, a digital collection in an easy-to-read PDF format; it’s only available here.