Homemade Yogurt/Sour Cream - Julie's Journal Blog at Allrecipes.com - 243931

Julie's Journal

Homemade Yogurt/Sour Cream 
Jul. 19, 2011 10:22 am 
Updated: Jul. 21, 2011 12:55 pm
Back before my move, there was a long discussion on one of my homeschooling forums about making homemade yogurt.  This really intrigued me since I can eat very few store-bought brands and/or flavors.  Most of them have Splenda or another sugar substitute which all give me migraines.  Plus, I cannot stand the taste.  I'm left with about six flavors of Yoplait, which, unless on a great sale, isn't the least expensive.  Frugal me just can't stand paying 50 cents for a little cup of yogurt.

So I decided to try it out.  It seemed every forum member had a different way of making theirs.  Like I do when reading AR recipe reviews, I decided to mix up all the suggestions and come up with a method that worked for me.  I first tried making it in my slow cooker.  Well, thanks to my lingering chemo brain at the time, I nearly burned down my kitchen.  How is that possible with a slow cooker you ask?  Well, when incubated it with a towel, I forgot to unplug the unit.  It was still on "high" and about 20 minutes later, while in the basement, I smelled something burning.  It was the beach towel I wrapped the crock in.  OOPS!  It was a white towel - a souvenir from my senior year after-prom party.  It has nice splotches of tan and brown now!

The near fire melted the plastic handles and control knobs off of my slow cooker.  So I saved the crock and threw away the rest.  I was able to replace it with the same model from Goodwill for $3.  I was not too sad, as it had been missing it's plastic lid for quite some time.  In fact, it's probably a really good thing that I was using a metal "fits all" lid for my first yogurt incubation!  I ended up incubating the batch with the crock and metal lid in my oven.

I'd used 2% milk and seemed to get a lot of whey from it, so I decided to try another batch with whole milk and use the stove top and oven.  It was a whole lot easier and quicker and is the method I now use.  Since my friends and family have been asking how I make it, here's my method.

1 gallon whole milk - preferably high quality (I use organic from a local dairy.)
5 or 6 ounce container of plain or vanilla yogurt (starter).  I use Stoneyfield since it has six different cultures.  Once you have a batch, you can hold back the same amount to use for the next batch, rather than purchasing a new container.

Heavy-bottomed, lidded, 4-quart or larger saucepan - (I use an 11" x 3" stainless pot - more surface area - see photo)
Food or candy thermometer - I prefer the candy thermometer so I can keep it in the pan when heating/cooling.
Oven with a light
1) Pour milk into pan and cook on medium to medium-high until it reaches 185 degrees.
2) Remove from heat and allow to cool to 115 degrees.  If you're in a hurry, you can put the pan in an ice bath - I use my sink.
3) Stir in yogurt and place lid on pan.
4) Place in oven and turn on the light, which will surprisingly give off enough heat for nice incubation.
5) Allow mixture to incubate 10-12 hours for yogurt and longer for sour cream.  I typically mix mine up after dinner and let it incubate until morning.
6) For thinner yogurt, stir mixture well and store.  For Greek-type yogurt and sour cream, drain out the whey.
7) Line a colander/strainer with four layers of heavy paper towels (I use Bounty non-Basic) and place over a bowl/pan to collect the whey.
8) Pour in yogurt to near the strainer's capacity and allow to sit for at least two hours.
9) Scoop out yogurt into containers and save the whey for other cooking applications (beans, smoothies, soups, etc.).  I prefer the Ziploc Twist-'n-Loc, 1-quart containers for the yogurt & whey and Ball plastic freezer jars for my sour cream (I let the last 12-16 ounces incubate longer).  See the photo for what I use.
10) Add desired flavorings, fruits, etc. and enjoy!

I love to add Smucker's Special Recipe Dark Chocolate topping to my yogurt - about 1 tablespoon per 6-8 ounces of yogurt.  It's just sweet enough without being too sweet (I don't like highly sweetened anything) and just enough chocolate to feel like I've had my chocolate kick for the day.  I also love it in plain cream of wheat; I've yet to try it in oatmeal.

I also add different fresh or canned fruit.  When I need a bit of sweetener, I add some vanilla sugar (make that myself, too).  I usually throw in some extract to match the fruit.  Like orange extract and mandarin oranges, cherry with fruit cocktail, or just lime/lemon juice with fresh fruit - especially strawberries.  If you want it thicker, you can add plain gelatin in when you add the starter culture.

You can make yogurt "your own" by changing up the type of milk, the quantities, the incubation period, the amount of whey draining, and the flavors.  I like knowing there are no added ingredients, especially ones that aren't needed, like preservatives.  My batches keep at least two weeks in the fridge.  Usually they're gone way before that.

Is this more cost effective?  Due to the yield of making thick yogurt, it's not a whole lot cheaper than purchasing yogurt.  But that's not my main reason - the additives are.  Plus, I can get so many customized flavor options this way, not just the six or so I can have if I purchased it.

Try it out - you might really like it!  No special equipment or ingredients required!

Oh, and I add this yogurt to nearly everything - pancakes, brownies (in place of oil), cream sauces, soups, etc.  Of course there's always smoothies, too!  If I was still having chemotherapy, I would add additional powdered milk or protein powder to increase the nutritive value.  I may actually add one or both to make my yogurt breakfasts last longer so I won't have a blood sugar spike and crash mid-morning.

Feel free to comment about your yogurt-making adventures.

Whey, Yogurt, Sour Cream
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My yogurt-making pan
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Sour Cream and Chocolate Yogurt
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Homemade Yogurt & Whey - top view
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Jul. 19, 2011 11:08 am
Thanks for this great info!! I've often thought I would like to try making my own yogurt. I didn't realize sour cream was basically the same thing, only incubated longer! Approximately how long do you incubate the sour cream?
Jul. 19, 2011 11:42 am
I totally want to try this. Like you, I put yogurt in everything- I especially like it in pancakes and scrambled eggs (don't knock it till you try it!)... I just love the slight tartness it adds to everything and it gives a good texture to baked goods. Currently I buy my yogurt from a local farm and it's additive free, but I may be moving and I will definitely keep this in mind. It's hard to get prepared foods like yogurts and such that are not full of preservatives in Alaska unless you make your own.
Jul. 19, 2011 5:23 pm
I am just a bit confused about the sour cream. I believe that SC is made from a different culture than yogurt. Also, if you warm the milk to 200 before cooling it, the proteins in the milk will unravel more and make it "thicker" when it is finished.
Jul. 20, 2011 6:07 am
I'm saving this entire post! Far more information than my brain capacity can store. Thank you!
Jul. 20, 2011 8:15 am
Chef - I didn't meant to say it was "real" sour cream. ;-) It's just that I use it *in place of* sour cream. I've been doing this for years - using plain yogurt for the lower fat content. Since I can culture this as long as I want to, then drain it, I can make it as thick as I want. This makes it much thicker than plain, store-bought yogurt, which is what I like. If I want to thin it out, then I just add back in some whey. To me, it tastes like very, very good, very rich sour cream.
Jul. 20, 2011 8:18 am
To all - I neglected to list the yield I get from one gallon of milk. It doesn't seem to change with the type of milk, as I've tried 2%, skim, whole, and also Smart Balance. I always get two quarts of Greek-style yogurt, about 1.5 quarts of whey, and then 8-10 ounces of "sour cream". Of course you don't have to start with making one gallon. You can start with one quart of milk, depending on your pan size, and how much you want on hand. Since I add it to so much, it goes quickly. I added whey to my chili last night and it was not noticible at all. It just increased the protein content of it. Also, the reason I use really "good" milk or organic, is because the whey doesn't turn out so "stringy". That really turned me off with my first batch - eewwhh! The higher-quality, fresher milk has whey with no "goo" in it. It's probably due to the lack of fillers.
Jul. 20, 2011 8:20 am
Keri - to get "sour cream" (see my reply to Chef C), I let it incubate about six hours longer than the rest. This sort of happens by default, because even though I have a very large colander, I have to drain the yogurt (to make it thick) in about three batches. It takes a good two hours each time to drain well. So by the time it's all drained, the last little bit is like sour cream! :-) Between batches of draining, I just stick it back in the oven. You'll be surprised how much heat an oven bulb puts off!
Jul. 20, 2011 2:07 pm
Wow! Thanx!! I'm definitely saving this... I've been looking for this sorta thing.. Want to start doing more things from scratch rather than buying just so I know that there are no unwanted additives etc in it... now to find how to make cheese.. Any recipes? ;)
Jul. 20, 2011 5:13 pm
I've made paneer cheese - I believe with a recipe here. It has a fairly low yield, but is really good fresh! Just looked it up - I believe it was this one: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/paneer/detail.aspx
Jul. 21, 2011 12:55 pm
Aaah.. Thanx Julie... That looks good.. :)
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About Me
As a child, I wanted to be a Home Economics teacher. Instead, I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. I've worked as a contract food service manager, and a restaurant/grocery/tobacco sanitarian ("health inspector"). I'm a breast cancer survivor. At age 40 I was diagnosed with a very aggressive type of Interductal Carcinoma, Stage 2/3. I had a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, and now 10 years of hormonal suppression therapy. I'm a homeschooling mom to my son (my daughter is in public school) and "professional" volunteer.
My favorite things to cook
I love anything spicy or as a minimum with lots of garlic and pepper. I've been on a green chile kick lately (2009) and planted several types of peppers in my garden this year.
My favorite family cooking traditions
We have chocolate chip pancakes on Christmas morning. On birthdays, the kids get to select what food they want for dinner. My son loves to use AllRecipes to find recipes with ingredients he's in the mood to eat.
My cooking triumphs
Anytime my husband & son exclaim "This is great!" or "This is better than ---- restaurant's version!"
My cooking tragedies
I once tried to make a fried onion blossum in my small fryer. I forgot to allow for the displacement of oil the onion would do, and about how the moisture would make the oil bubble up. I made a giant mess! Just as it was happening, the Welcome Wagon lady showed up at our door (we'd just purchased our first home). She didn't seem to have a clue that she should come back at a different time, as I was busy cleaning up fryer oil from the outside and inside of cabinets, between the stove and the cabinets, under the stove, etc. She just kept talking away!
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