I love Greek yogurt, I love that tangy rich flavor. I am pleasantly surprised to find out that my kids seem to love it as well. I have been watching a lot of documentaries about processed foods, and would like to incorporate more “real” food into my diet. I happened upon the website Culturesforhealth.com when I was searching for natural foods. I had been thinking about making yogurt around Christmas time, but didn’t want to buy another expensive appliance. I have to admit that I have a problem when it comes to buying kitchen appliances and gear. I would say my husband wouldn’t approve, but by this time he just shakes his head because he knows when I get my mind on something there is no stopping me.
I was happy to read that I didn’t need to buy another appliance, that I could use a dehydrator. The only problem was that all the dehydrators that were shown were the Excalibur square dehydrator. Mine is a round dehydrator, so I can’t just remove the trays to have a hollow inside like the Excalibur. I got to brainstorming and came up with an idea that I think is pretty ingenious! I had my husband snip out the prongs on three of my dehydrator trays making my dehydrator hollow inside.
One important thing to remember when using a dehydrator or other appliance that is not specifically a yogurt maker is to make sure that you can set it at the correct temperature. You need to be able to maintain a temp or 110° F.
I keep a thermometer in my dehydrator while it is running to make sure my temp stays at 110° F. I have found with my dehydrator that if I keep it at 115° F that keeps the temp inside at 110° F.
On to how I prepare my yogurt.
I make myself a double boiler, you have to be sure not to use metal (stainless steel is okay though). I am not 100% sure my pots are correct, so I decided not to take the risk. I have a really nice Pampered Chef mixing bowl, so I use that inside a bath of boiling water on my stove top.
Another thing I like about this method is that I can keep my thermometer attached better, my pot has a weird lip that won’t hold the thermometer well. I like to get my yogurt as thick as possible, so I get my milk up to about 175° F and hold it there for 20 min. Then you have to let it sit until the temp goes back down to 110° F, this is important because you do not want to kill off your cultures.
I bought my starter cultures from Culturesforhealth.com, I was fortunate enough to find them at a local store, but you can order them online from their website.
For the first batch you get enough cultures to make one quart. From then on you can make bigger batches because you will use your yogurt from the previous batch. The ratio is 3 Tbsp yogurt for each quart of milk. Speaking of milk, you want to use whole milk, organic if you can find it. You want to make sure that it is not Ultra Pasteurized, I had a hard time finding organic milk that was not Ultra Pasteurized, so I have been using the store brand of whole milk and that has been working good.
Once the milk is back down to 110° F it is time to add the yogurt or yogurt starter. Make sure to stir really well with a wooden spoon (never use metal). Then pour into jars. I use plastic canning jars that are freezer proof and BPA free. You can also use glass jars. I wanted to use something that is lighter for taking in my lunch.
I like to leave a little space on top to add fruit. Cover the jars and put in the dehydrator.
I then cover the dehydrator, it will take 5-7 hours for the yogurt to set up. I check it from time to time to make sure I am maintaining the correct temp.
You know the yogurt is done when you tip it and it pulls away from the side in one single mass, sometimes it will not pull away, but you can tell it is solid and no longer a liquid.
If you have small kids at home you want to make sure they don’t change your setting on your dehydrator as I learned the hard way last week. I went back to my yogurt and found that the dial had been changed to 150° F! My yogurt got a little curdled. I was going to toss it, but my kids still liked it, so we continued to eat it. I am trying to make a new batch with that yogurt right now, so I am crossing my fingers that the cultures were not killed off. I have my dehydrator turned around now, so those little fingers will not be tempted to murder my yogurt cultures. LOL