This is a long overdue tutorial that I promised when I wrote Yogurt Soaps and Notes, but then it hit me that my method involves using a special equipment that most people don’t have. I was hesitating whether to write this post or not, but I hate breaking promises, and I honestly think it is one of the best and most reliable methods, especially if you make a lot of yogurt regularly.
Google How to Make Yogurt and you will find numerous ways to improvise if you don’t have a yogurt maker. I have been there and done that with most methods, but results were not always very consistent, until my mom discovered the Magic Cooker. She used it for soups and stews, but I had other ideas for it.
The key to making yogurt is maintaining an ideal temperature of 110˚-120˚F (43˚- 49˚C) for the bacteria to grow, multiply, and do their thing. This, the Magic Cooker does perfectly.
A Magic Cooker works like a slow cooker except that there is no electricity involved. It consists of an inner pot which you use to cook food in, and an outer pot which holds the inner pot to continue the cooking using the stored energy.
I think my mom got hers from a friend of a friend, but I checked Amazon just for reference and found that they have the bigger unit. The unit I use at home is an older model, and I think the capacity is 3 liters, although I use it for only 2 liters of milk at a time. I am in no way paid to endorse the product, but here’s the link for those who are curious. It is kinda pricey, but since you can use it for so many things without the use of added electricity, I think it is worth the investment in the long run.
Pictured below are the things you will need to prepare. For this recipe, I used 2 liters of raw milk. For every liter of milk, you will need about a tablespoon of yogurt for proper inoculation. You can use store-bought plain yogurt as your “mother” yogurt, and for succeeding batches, you just need to reserve a little bit of what you made.
By the way, the fuller you fill the Magic Cooker, the better it holds the temperature. At the very least, make it half full.
If you are using raw milk, you have to pasteurize or heat it up to a minimum temperature of 185˚F (85˚C), otherwise it won’t work. It’s ok if your milk ends up hotter, like it did with me.
Next, place the pot of milk in a basin/bowl/sink with cold water to cool it down to 120˚F. Stir it from time to time to prevent skin from forming.
If you are using pasteurized or UHT milk, which I sometimes do, you just need to heat up the milk to 110˚-120˚F, and skip the whole cooling process, unless you accidentally overheated the milk.
If you don’t have a thermometer, you can use your finger (clean!) to gauge the temperature of the milk. When you put your finger in, it should feel very warm and you should be able to leave your finger in the milk up to the count of ten without feeling like you are getting scalded.
When your milk is at the ideal temperature range of 110˚-120˚F (I personally prefer to have my milk at the higher end of the range), add the mother yogurt and stir thoroughly.
Cover the inner pot with its glass lid and place it inside the outer pot. Close the lid of the outer pot and leave it undisturbed for 4-5 hours.
After the incubation period, check to see if the milk has thickened up by shaking it a bit. If it jiggles like jello, it is ready. If it still looks runny, give it another couple of hours before transferring the inner pot to the refrigerator.
I once forgot about the yogurt until after 12 hours. I was expecting it to be spoiled already, but surprisingly, it was still fine and not even that sour!
I find that raw milk produces a thicker and richer yogurt, although technically, it’s no longer raw. With pasteurized milk, some people add powdered milk to make a thicker yogurt, or you could also use milk fortified with calcium.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask, even if you’re using a different method. 🙂