backcountry how-to right here in the city

its been hard to do any true back country how-to posts whilst living in such dangerous proximity to the city. but perhaps that is due to my indolent-self more than anything. you can see my first and last one from september here on making a simple ricotta. despite the prevailing circumstances, we had a couple quarts of milk that were going to go bad at the farm store so i took it upon myself to rescue them and yogurt them.

making yogurt is insultingly simple. it does take all day. but the grand portion of that time is the yogurt culture doing her work. the process only requires minimal human intervention. so hop to.

what you will need:

-1 quart of whole milk (don't mess around with skim, it simply isn't as delicious)
 if you have access to fresh raw milk, for heaven's sake use fresh raw milk. 
-2 T yogurt culture.  in other words: 2 T of yogurt. use an unflavored organic whole milk yogurt that says it contains live acidophilus cultures.
-double broiler 
-1 meticulously cleaned quart-sized jar & lid
-thermometer that measures to at least 185F
-small insulated vessel that can at least fit 1 quart (e.g. a small cooler or an ice bucket)
-cheese cloth *not necessary if you have a very fine strainer.


1. heat milk to 185F on a double broiler. put a lid over the milk to speed this process & check the temperature every 5 minutes or so (about 30 minutes).
2. remove from heat and let cool to 115F. allow to cool with lid off. unless you have many flies in your house --don't judge, some of us live with cows-- in which case, use a cheese cloth to cover.
to hasten the process i replace the bottom section of the double broiler with ice water and sit the saucer of milk in that for rapid cooling
3. scoop in 2T of yogurt culture to clean quart jar
4. using the funnel pour cooled (115F) milk into aforementioned quart jar. you may have a little bit of leftover milk. give this to your kitty cat.
5. seal quart with lid and place in an empty cooler or ice bucket.
6. fill this insulated container with the hottest tap water you can muster. fill up but do not completely submerse your jar (and be sure your lid is water-tight).

yogurt incubates best at a temperature of 110-115F. hence the insulated vessel filled with the hottest water. you want to try to keep the milk at about this temperature. 

7. secure the top to the insulated container. and leave in a relatively warm place for SIX HOURS (!!). this is a minimum of time. the longer you leave the milk to incubate with the yogurt the more tart she will become.

i recommend doing steps 1-7 right before bed and then when you wake up your cultures will have incubated.

it is important to note here that the less you agitate the incubating milk the better. try not to move the milk or disturb it in anyway during incubation. do not stir the yogurt culture in with the milk. just let everything sit still and do her own chemical thing. if you agitate it, she will become LuMpY.

8. after incubation you can take your quart out of the isolation/insulation and open her up. she should look like yogurt with a little bit of yellow-green whey floating on the top.
9. put the strainer into a large bowl and pour your yogurt through the strainer. if this strainer isn't very fine, put a cheesecloth over it as you don't want to loose to much of the yogurt.

     for regular every day yogurt one quick simple strain is fine.
for thicker 'greek style' yogurt leave it for a longer 2+ hour strain to bring you deliciousness.

10. when you have finished straining the yogurt ladle it out into a clean quart or into two clean pints and label it clearly with the day's date. 
11. give the leftover whey to your dog or cat or pig or chicken. it is wonderfully nutritious and they will love you for it. 
11. this yogurt will be good for several days. i have eaten homemade yogurt well over a week after its creation without any complaints. 

*AND thank you (!!!) patti for letting me make a brief mess of your kitchen to make yogurt.


  1. This is completely off topic, but can you recommend any brand/model of hiking boot?

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with using raw milk if you can get it. Or try it with and witout and taste the difference.


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