Saturday, September 19, 2009

In the Kitchen: Homemade Yogurt

My children love yogurt and it is surprisingly easy to make. Learning how to make yogurt is an excellent preparedness skill to have.

Gather the following equipment:
  • 16-quart cooler: I lined my cooler with aluminum foil for better incubation.
  • Double boiler: I use a 3-quart stainless steel bowl and a 4-quart saucepan instead of an actual double boiler.
  • Kitchen Thermometer: I use an AcuRite that ranges from 0F to 220F. You'll need one that can go as high as 180F. Bonus if it clips to the side of your double boiler or has a timer.
  • 3, 1-quart jars with lids and rings: I prefer wide mouth for ease of pouring and serving. Two of the jars will hold the incubating milk and one will hold warm water for incubating the yogurt.
  • Clean dish towels or other food safe cloth: Used during incubation.
  • Timer
  • Whisk
and the following ingredients:
  • 2 quarts of pasteurized milk: Don't use ultra pasteurized; it can lead to inferior yogurt.
  • 1/4 cup starter yogurt: I buy a quart of plain yogurt from the grocery store and then freeze into cubes. When I want to make yogurt, I thaw two cubes (2 minutes, 15 seconds on 20% power). I’ve also had success skimming off 1/4 cup to use in the next batch.
  • 1/4 cup dry milk: Optional. Makes a thicker yogurt.
Making the Yogurt
Time: 25-30 minutes to cook/cool, 8-10 hours to incubate.
General process: re-pasteurize milk, cool to incubation temperature, add starter, and then incubate.
  1. Fill the base of the double boiler with water. Leave some space in the base of the double boiler or the water will boil over, making a mess.

  2. Pour 2 quarts of milk into the top of the double boiler.

  3. (Optional) Whisk in 1/4 cup dry milk.

  4. Bring temperature of milk to 180F, stirring frequently. I turn my range to high and when the milk reaches 165F I turn the range off. At that point there is enough heat to raise the temperature of the milk to 180F and maintain that temperature during step 5.

  5. Maintain the milk at 180F for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Prepare cold water bath and defrost your yogurt starter, if necessary.

  6. Drop temperature of milk to 115F to 118F in a cold water bath. You can add ice cubes to the cold water bath to drop the temperature even faster, but be careful you don't dip below 110F. Save the water in the double boiler for step 9.

  7. Once the temperature of the milk is between 115F and 118F, whisk in yogurt starter.

  8. Pour milk into two quart jars and place jars into incubation cooler.

  9. Pour hot water from base of double boiler into the remaining quart jar. The temperature of the water will be hot enough to incubate both jars of milk for 8 to 10 hours.

  10. Place quart jar of hot water into cooler between the two jars of warm milk.

  11. Pack insulating dish towels and cloths around sides and tops of jars. I like to fill the cooler with towels and top it with an aluminum foil-lined piece of cardboard.

  12. Close the cooler and place in a location where it will be undisturbed for 8 to 10 hours.

  13. After 8 to 10 hours, remove yogurt and place in refrigerator.

  14. Flavor to taste and serve. We like to eat with berries and brown sugar or blend up in a yogurt smoothie. Yum!


If you're interested in making other types of cheese products, be sure to check out for supplies and equipment.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Storing Water

Recently I had to empty out my 55-gallon water barrels to move them. I use them for emergency water supply in case of a disaster. Now I'm refilling and here are some of the things I have done to help keep the water potable and to stay prepared.

I picked up a motor home or marine water hose at the local hardware store since I've heard that your regular garden hose has chemicals that can affect your water.

I have picked a location before filling them since they are very heavy to move. One can purchase water barrels for around $50 or you might try picking up some old containers used in the manufacture of soft-drinks for about $10.

I'll prepare each container by adding 1/2 cup unscented bleach to the water before storing. Sometimes I have freezing temperatures where I live so I'll only be filling each container about 90% full.

Then hook up the hose and fill the barrels. It is suggested by various authorities to rotate water every 2 years or so, maybe less if you store the water inside. I'll likely filter the water when it comes time to drink it but storage of water at least allows me to have some to use.

Tell me how you store water in the comments.