Like Magic

I really have to blame Barbara Kingsolver and her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for my recent insanity involving growing more of my own food, eating locally, and making things I’d never imagined I’d make from scratch.  I dream of getting chickens (although I’ve wanted them for quite a while, I’ve just recently put the pressure on Luke to build me a coop), I’m making lists of what I want to can this summer and I can’t wait for the local strawberries to ripen so I can pick a truckload and make jam.  But yogurt, I never even imagined I’d make yogurt.  It seemed to fall into the category of things whose creation processes I’d rather not be enlightened upon.  Like hot dogs or cottage cheese.  Yogurt is essentially spoiled milk with bacteria growing in it and really – eew!

But I eat yogurt everyday and once Barbara told me about the synthetic gelatin and corn syrup and other non-essential, non-food ingredients that were added to my store-bought yogurt – as well as how cheap and easy it was to make my own – I had to give it a try.  Let me tell you, I am never going back to store-bought.  For an entire investment of $3.68, I made ten single-servings of the most amazingly delicious yogurt on the planet.  Sure it took a while, but about 95% of the yogurt-making process is waiting, and now that I’ve gone through the process once, I think I could time it so that the yogurt can cure? grow? become? what is the proper word?  it can… magically transform from a bowl of hot milk into delicious yogurt while I’m sleeping.

I followed an assortment of directions, with most of my influences coming from this site because I like to see pictures of the process, and the directions were so straightforward.  Plus it showed that you didn’t have to use electricity for 8+ hours to create the yogurt.  I’m not a huge fan of plain yogurt so I altered the recipe a bit to make vanilla, and I didn’t feel like hauling the cooler out of the attic so I let the yogurt magically transform in the microwave, wrapped in a towel to keep warm.  If you’re feeling adventurous, here is the recipe.

Homemade Vanilla Yogurt
Adapted from livelonger’s recipe How to make your own yogurt.

You will need about an hour to heat the milk, let it cool, and prepare it for its 8 hour wait, so just plan on that before you begin.

Equipment needed:
large stock pot
kitchen thermometer (I used my candy thermometer)
whisk and wooden spoon
large glass bowl
plastic wrap

Ingredients needed:
1/2 gallon organic milk (whole or 2%)
1 container plain yogurt to use as the starter (make sure that it has live cultures – I used Chobani)
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. In the stockpot, whisk together the milk and sugar and heat over gentile, medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture reaches 170°. Remove from heat, switch to the wooden spoon (to avoid making excessive bubbles) and stir in the vanilla.
  2. Stir the mixture occasionally and let it cool to 110°, then stir in the container of yogurt.  Make sure the yogurt is fully incorporated and pour the mixture into the large glass bowl.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap, wrap the bowl with a towel, and put the bundle inside of the microwave oven.  Now wait.  And wait.  And wait.  Give it about 8 hours, then remove the bundle from the microwave, stir vigorously with a wooden spoon, and portion into smaller containers.
  4. Refrigerate several hours until set, then enjoy your new magically delicious treat and ignore the fact that it involved leaving warm milk out on the counter for 8 hours.

Up next: CHEESE!  Barbara tells me that making mozzarella and ricotta are easy as pie and take only about 30 minutes.  I can’t wait.  Now I just have to order the magic ingredients.  I’m sure I’ll be reporting on that one soon, too.



  1. I better not tell Karlo about this. He grew up on homemade yogurt. His mother made a batch every couple of days. He would flip to know you’re making your own.


  2. Yep, you can’t help but be changed by reading that book. I read it quite a while back, when it first came out, and I had never even heard of the locavore movement. Now I’ve helped to organize an online grocery for local food and products in our area, and totally changed the way I shop and eat. I’m thinking it’s time for a refresher course though, so I’m going to read it again, try more recipes, see what else I can absorb this time around.


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