how to make yogurt & kefir
I'm a maker of granola, as we all know, but at home, I'm also a maker of yogurt. Yogurt + granola, a wonderful pairing— it only makes sense to always have it on hand. Plus, it's super simple to make. All you need is milk and a little bit of yogurt to kickstart the fermentation process.
For me, personally, I like my yogurt plain and unsweetened, with milk preferably local, grass-fed, and/or organic. When I make my own yogurt, I feel totally in control with knowing the source and quality of milk that goes into it.
As for the benefits of consuming yogurt and kefir, the two offer good bacteria and probiotics that help us digest and absorb our food. Good health starts in the gut.
Why make your own yogurt and kefir?
- It's cheaper than buying store-bought. Once you have a batch of homemade yogurt going, all you need to buy to make the next batch is milk.
- You have way more control over the ingredients that you're using. Many store-bought varieties will add thickeners and gums. The quality of your milk matters—buy local if you can!
Don't be intimidated by fermentation, it's a beautiful thing.
- 1 gallon (4 L) whole-fat milk, pasteurized or raw, preferably unhomogenized
- 3⁄4 cup kefir or yogurt
- Slowly warm the milk to 185°F over medium heat, continuously stirring.
- If making yogurt, maintain temperature and cook for 30 min to an hour. The longer you cook it, the thicker your yogurt will be. This step helps the proteins denature to be better coagulated during fermentation. For kefir, I let it go just until it hit temperature, then let it cool down.
- Cool the milk to 110°F (43°C): Take the pot of milk off the heat, and stir it until the temperature falls to that point. Don’t have a thermometer? A good trick is to dip your finger in the milk—if you have to pull it out after 10 seconds, the temperature is just right.
- Add yogurt to the milk.
- Pour everything into jars, screwing on the lids.
- Incubate at 100–110°F (39–43°C) for 6 to 12 hours, keeping the jars in a warm spot, such as an insulated cooler filled with warm water, or a warm oven with the light on. I personally used my sous vide (Joule) which maintains the temperature while also notifying me when the cook time is done.
- The longer your yogurt ferments, the tangier it is. I personally like to ferment mine closer to 12 hours.
- Once finished, transfer to the fridge to slow down fermentation.
- For yogurt, you can strain using a cheesecloth to make labne, Icelandic skyr, or greek-style yogurt.