Monday 12 March 2012

Making Yogurt in a Thermos

A while ago, I mentioned on Facebook that I was going to try making yogurt in my slow cooker and several people expressed interest in seeing the recipe.

My slow cooker experiment worked okay but the recipe called for a gallon of milk.  I enjoy yogurt but my husband does not.  He’ll eat it in cooked dishes but, as a dish unto itself, he avoids it like the plague.  There’s only so much yogurt one person can eat, so a batch that uses a gallon of milk at a time is just too much to use up before it spoils.

I’ve been on the lookout for a yogurt recipe that will work for a smaller amount of milk and that doesn’t require that I buy any special yogurt-making equipment, so I was very pleased when I found a recipe on Pinterest for making yogurt in a thermos.  The recipe, by Not Quite Nigella, didn’t require any specialist equipment other than a candy making thermometer, which I already had, and a thermos big enough to hold the quantity of milk I intended to use.

When I read through the instructions, they seemed quite straightforward.  It takes quite some time to make yogurt but, apart from the initial preparation, most of the time involved is just waiting time.  The only troublesome part of the whole process is getting the yogurt out of the thermos.  You have to give the thermos some good shakes, and maybe break up the yogurt a little with a table knife in order to persuade it to make its way out of the thermos and into a bowl.  It does come out, though, and the flavour is very good.

The original recipe called for organic full fat milk and some added milk powder, to give the yogurt more body.  I chose to make my yogurt with regular 2% milk (I would love to use organic milk but can’t afford it) and to omit the milk powder.  It turned out just fine, especially after I drained the excess whey out of it.

I find often that the savings that recipes on Pinterest claim to provide don’t match the actual costs of the projects when I make them.  Perhaps this is because of differences in regional pricing and availability, or because of the bloggers were working in larger quantities than I do.  Whatever the reason, because of these differences, I now take claims about money saving with a grain of salt.

Dairy products are certainly more expensive here in Canada than they are in the US but, even so, the claims about cost in this recipe seem to hold up.  My homemade Greek style yogurt ended up costing me about a third what it would if I bought it in the grocery store.

To make yogurt in a thermos, you'll need:

  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 Tablespoons plain yogurt (I buy the smallest tub at the grocery store.  It yields me enough to start 2-1/2 batches.  Be sure to buy one that contains live cultures.  It’ll say so on the label.)
  • Some boiling water to warm the thermos 

Begin by scalding the milk.  Heat it over low heat until it reaches a temperature of 180˚F.  This will kill any bacteria that you don’t want to end up in your finished yogurt.

Remove the milk from the heat and allow it to cool to 115˚F. 

While the milk is cooling, pour some boiling water into your thermos and screw on the cap.  

This will pre-heat the inside of the thermos.

When the milk has cooled to 115˚F, whisk in the yogurt.  Empty the water from the thermos, and transfer the milk mixture into the thermos as quickly as possible.

Cap the thermos tightly and wrap it in a towel or blanket.

Leave the milk mixture in the wrapped thermos for twelve to sixteen hours.  At the end of that time, you’ll have yogurt.  Empty it from the thermos into a bowl.

You can use the yogurt just as it is but I prefer to drain the whey from mine so that I end up with a thick yogurt that is more like Greek yogurt in texture.  To do this, line a fine meshed sieve with a couple of layers of cheesecloth and set it over a bowl or large measuring cup.  Pour the yogurt into the lined sieve and put it in the fridge.  

Let the yogurt drain for a couple of hours.  It will reduce in volume by half and should be thick enough that when you turn it out of the cheesecloth you can see the weave of the cloth imprinted on the yogurt.

Save the whey (the liquid drained from the yogurt).  

It’s rich in nutrients and can be used in baking.  I substitute it for part of the water called for in the recipe when baking bread.

If I'm serving this yogurt with fruit, cereal, or oatmeal I’ll usually stir in a little honey to sweeten it, and maybe some vanilla for flavour.  Served plain it makes an excellent substitute for sour cream. 

You can drain it even longer if you wish, to obtain a very firm texture that is not unlike cream cheese.  If making yogurt “cheese,” experiment with adding garlic and different herbs.  It makes an excellent dip and is delicious when used as a spread on crackers.
This recipe is linked to Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, hosted by Premeditated Leftovers, The 21st Century Housewife, Penniless Parenting, and Zesty South Indian Kitchen.

Hearth & Soul Hop


Swathi said...

Nice idea of making yogurt in thermos,I make in yogurt maker, without it life is impossible. Thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop.

Aunt B said...

Thanks for stopping by, and for hosting the hop. I find lots of interesting ideas here.

Alea Milham said...

This is a great idea for when I only need a small amount of yogurt. Thanks for sharing this tutorial!

Aunt B said...

You're welcome Alea. Thank you for hosting the hop. :)

Julie said...

Glad to see this post, I will give this a try!

Aunt B said...

I'm glad it's helpful to you Julie. I make this two or three times a week now. It's a simple and reliable method.

Anonymous said...

I love your thermos method and am going to do it, to get the feel and enjoy and know what is in my yoghurt. I was going to buy a yoghurt maker ,but i have a couple of food flasks and will put them to use. Thank you for giving me focus.

Anonymous said...

I love your thermos method and am going to do it, to get the feel and enjoy and know what is in my yoghurt. I was going to buy a yoghurt maker ,but i have a couple of food flasks and will put them to use. Thank you for giving me focus.