Step 6: Store and serve

I slide the entire strainer assembly into the fridge. It keeps draining as I use the yogurt, so there are never any nasty puddles of whey. I hate those. And since I've gone this far without washing much of anything, why start now? 

But there is one thing: I want to save some of each batch to inoculate the next. So the last few ounces out of the jug go into a jar. I leave this starter untouched for the week in the fridge.
<p>I've made many a batch of your Yogurt by the Gallon, and love it! I haven't read all the comments, so I don't know if anyone else has discovered, as I did, a great way to strain the yogurt after making it. I have a rice steamer that I bought for a few bucks at a thrift shop, the kind that has two plastic containers that fit onto a base. The larger, outer container has perforations at the bottom of it (for letting in and holding steam around the smaller bowl in which the rice cooks). The one that I have holds the gallon of yogurt with a little room left over. </p><p>I place the large perforated container into a glass bowl that happens to hold the container a couple of inches off the bottom. I wet a coffee filter and place it flat into the perforated container -- the filter exactly covers the perforated area. I pour the yogurt in, then set the whole set-up into the fridge to drain. Sometimes I leave it in this set-up until all the yogurt is eaten; if the yogurt gets too thick, I just stir some of the whey back in. Or else I'll turn the thickened yogurt into another bowl, trying to make it kind of flop in upside down, as the coffee filter will peel right off the bottom of the thickened yogurt.</p><p> It might take a little bit of comparison shopping to find a bowl that fits nicely with the plastic rice cooker container, but this process does work great! The bowl that I use is an old Anchor Hocking glass bowl that I bought ages ago, and I don't know if that same kind is still available. There is 4 quart Anchor Hocking mixing bowl on Amazon that looks very similar. </p><p>Another couple of hints -- if you have an electric kettle, boil water in it to add to the pan that you heat the yogurt in. It heats more quickly and saves energy over heating the water on the stove top. I also pour the still-warm water into the cooler that I use to incubate the yogurt (I like to have the water at 105 degrees, but it's probably not a big deal, as long as the water's not too hot) in order to keep the temp steady for longer. </p>
<p>I often find myself boosting the warmup with an electric kettle too; especially when cooking on my honey's glass top range.</p><p>Always good to hear about successful variations. Pictures of your rig would surely be useful to our fellow milk fermentors. </p>
Ive been using your method for atleast two years now. i thought i would finally post instead of just trolling back whenever i needed to check the reference temperatures. Thanks a gallon! Great yogurt! Easiest method out there! Excited to try the whey next time as my inoculant!
<p>Very nice of you to leave the kind words. Makes the world go round.</p>
<p>I haven't perfected a compact 1 gallon straining method yet. I just wanted to comment about uses for the strained whey. A quarter cup of strained whey will ferment another batch of gallon yogurt. I save it to marinade meats. Soak oatmeal in it. Use it instead of water for baking bread. Dog likes it too! I use my crockpot bowl to heat a gallon in my microwave, on high, for 23 minutes. Gets it to 185 every time, I don't even check it any more. I don't know if it hurts my refrigerator, it still works- I put the hot milk in the frige for 1 hour. Once the milk is in the frige, preheat oven to 250f then turn it off, I have a pizza stone in the oven it may or may not absorb much heat. Take a quarter cup of whey from the frige and set out on counter. After 1 hour to cool off, add the 1/4 cup whey, cover and stick it in the oven.</p>
<p>Thanks for a great comment. </p><p>The nesting food containers continue to work well for me, but some people object to plastic contact. You could try drilling a 4 quart stainless steel bowl. </p><p>Yes it is very convenient to get reliable timings for your method. But that is always peculiar to our gear and kitchen and ambient temps.</p><p>I like your idea of using whey as the inoculant. I used this on a double batch this week and it worked perfectly. Also much more convenient to pour than yogurt. This is a solid improvement in the method. Collaboration is wonderful. </p>
<p>Very intrigued by this tip! Just 1/4 cup whey per gallon? </p>
It doesn't just work; it is the best way.
<p>This is still my favorite Instructable of all time! I use this method twice a month and it has saved me so much time and dirty dishes. Thanks to a tip on another of your Instructables, I finally over came the hurdle of keeping the gallon warm overnight. I was at my pharmacy when they got a delivery of <br>refrigerated drugs and they happily gave me the cooler that they came <br>in. It's perfect! The dense foam is about 5 inches thick. I just had to cut out a couple of ridges and my gallon fits nicely inside. My yogurt was still warm 12 hours later. The reusable <br>ice packs are a very nice bonus too! I'd like to encourage anyone looking for a great insulated container to check at your pharmacy. They even had more in the back that they asked if I wanted too. </p>
<p>Very gracious to let me know of your success. Five inches, you say? Impressive.</p>
<p>I looked at it tonight while waiting for my milk to cool. It looks like I exaggerated in my excitement on my find. It really seems to be about 3 inches thick. Dense though. </p>
<p>Awesome work! I only make things in big batches, so this is perfect for me and I can't wait to try it! Here's a quick thought/suggestion for those of you like myself who love to cook, but HATE doing dishes (I always look for the method that allows me to wash the least number of dishes possible). Instead of actually using a pot to boil the water, fill up the sink and use a Large Volume Hot Water Coil Heater (if they don't allow the link below just enter the capitalized words into the search box over at amazon; I haven't bought one this size yet but for only $13 it's worth a try and the little ones work amazing!). Since you aren't actually making soup or pasta, or any other food directly in the water, why have to wash a pot? You might be able to just drain and dry a pot used for something like this, but I don't think I could sleep if I ever did that. I'm neurotic, I'd have to wash it properly. You might use this method for other things requiring a hot water bath as well (candle-making, cheesecake baking, or anything requiring a double boiler).</p><p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Volume-Heater-Coffee-Heating-Cooking/dp/B00FO8FY68/ref=lh_ni_t?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A9CJ4GWJUB5SY" rel="nofollow">http://www.amazon.com/Volume-Heater-Coffee-Heating...</a></p>Large Volume Hot Water Coil Heater
<p>Great &quot;ible&quot;. I'm collecting the supplies &amp; equipment. I was reading labels on yogurt @ market; would &quot;pasteurized milk, contains live cultures&quot; be a good starter for my first attempt at home culturing yogurt?</p>
<p>Yes, that's perfect. Get the milk to target temps of 180F and 110F as carefully as you can, and the yogurt will take care of itself.</p>
<p>this is an easy an cool setting the only thing that worries me is warming up milk in the plastic bin, the chance of chemicals released in to the milk from the hot plastic..</p>
<p>There is a lot of concern about this, stemming from confusion about different plastics. The jug you buy your milk in has already been heated to higher temperatures during cleaning and packaging. This is safe because polyethylene is not a catalyzed plastic, and is thermoformed from food-safe material.</p>
<p>Thanks I did a search since I wrote my comment about different plastics.. </p><p>the plastic type for milk bottle is TYPE 2 usually under the milk buttle the number 2 in a triangle. </p><p>that is safe to reheat..</p>
<p>I kept having problems trying to get this recipe thick, so I added 3 cups dry milk to a half gallon and it came out REALLY thick after 20 hours. Just one cup would make a big difference. Dry milk is 40% more expensive, $2.8 per gallon ($15.50 for a box of it from Sams) and it work as good as skim or low fat milk. I also just heated it up to just 123 F and poured it into my larger glass jug that had some 1/2 cup yogurt in it (so starting temp was probably 120 F due to jug and yogurt coolness and the pouring). Bringing it up to 180 F took way to long to be fun, over 30 minutes, and nearly as long to bring the temperature while occupying the whole sink in a running cool water bath. I also stirred the dry milk back in several times during the 20 hours. Rather than the special insulation setup, I used a cheap &quot;larger than 6-pack-size&quot; Styrofoam cooler to hold the gallon jug and placed a boiling coffee cup of water beside it after 2 hours to keep it more warm. I placed no concern on contamination and it came out good.</p>
<p>Yes, dry milk will instantly add solids to yield thicker and more expensive yogurt. This variation often makes sense when more product is needed from a single batch. </p><p>It does take me about 25 minutes to scold milk, which is too long to stare at a thermometer. From the experience of many identical batches, I can use a timer to alert me a little early. So 90% of the cooking time is unattended and painless.</p><p>You will get thicker yogurt by bringing the milk all the way up to 180&ordm;. Below this temperature, much of the protein won't curd and will be lost in the whey. </p>
How or where do you make/get your Yogurtron insulator? I just made yogurt using the crockpot method, which was pretty easy and this stuff (although still warm) tastes great. But I really want to get a gallon of whole milk and try your method.
I made the 1st Yogurtron out of polystyrene beadboard to fit a crock. <br> <br>The 2nd generation used foil-faced polyisocyanurate foam board. Available at all building supply centers. This proved to be far more durable and effective. I fitted a thick lid and sealed all the edges with foil duct tape. <br> <br>Trying to be cute, I crafted round corners to fit the milk jug. Complete waste of time. Get an empty jug and build a square box to fit. All sides including top should be 1.5 to 2 inches thick. <br> <br>Bonus: Put your insulated box in a shopping bag and bring it to the food store. Then you can pack frozen food inside and it won't thaw on the way home. Works much better than any picnic cooler. This is a big deal in Florida, because I don't have drive a crazy route to buy my food last. <br> <br>Maybe I should build a 3rd gen Yogurton and do an Instructable on that?
Definitely do an instructable on the Yogurtron 3rd generation. I'm new to the world of home cultured yogurt and have made about 5 gallon batches in the last month. Your instructable is fantastic and has been used with my last two batches. Following your process on the second trial run I've dropped my investment time from 8 hours waiting on a crockpot to 50 minutes. The strainer is simply brilliant. It will be a permanent staple in my fridge. Thanks for all of the pointers!!!
It's been forever, and I see you've mentioned this again :) but I was getting ready to finally make a yogurton :) and was interested in what you had thought up for a 3rd gen. <br> <br>My setup includes a bunch of 1cup glass bottles, so I was going to make one that had little compartments for them all, with 3 or 4 inch shell and lid. Currently I have a normal cooler, which I fill with the hot water, and enough cool water to get the temp right at 120 before putting them in over night. Works pretty great. <br> <br>Btw, I still love the post :). Come back to it regularly for the cheat sheet :)
I tried it, but after ten hours it was still warm milk. I used 2 half gallons of skim milk, scalded to 180F in a 20 qt stockpot. The jugs were suspended off the bottom of the pot by a rod across the pot and through the jug handles as the temperature rose and the jugs bloated. I cooled them to 110 then inoculated from a jar of &quot;Bulgarian&quot; yoghurt from Fresh Market. I packed it all into a cooler with the pot of water at 200F a few inches from the jugs, air temp right at 110. I think my thermometer was reading low and I killed the inoculate, so I have added more and a bit of publix fat free plain yoghurt for good measure and packed it back up. Wish me luck. Oh, one jug of milk separated into whey, it was left to fall to the hot bottom off stockpot after I pulled the other pot out
This is a robust process, and you followed it carefully. I doubt the failure was caused by the thermometer off a few degrees. <br> <br>Guessing the yogurt from Fresh Market was pasteurized before you bought it. Sometimes they do that for some reason. I do wish you good luck, and hope you prove that cheap yogurt makes the best inoculate.
Since it ferments so quickly, i did not sterilize anything. I placed chopsticks on bottom of 8 quart pot filled half way with water. Chopsticks to keep plastic off pots hot bottom. while that was coming up to 180 F, i used microwave on 2% gallon milk, shaking every 1 minute. 10 minutes total. Seemed to take 30 minutes more at least to bring gallon up to 180 F, with the water very close to boiling. Then took pot and all to sink for cooling under running water and ice. Thermometer simply jammed through plastic jug cap. At 110 F, added 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt by mixing with 1/2 cup milk and then pouring oit 1/2 cup of milk. Used funnel to get it back into jug. Placed jug in styrofoam cooler. Added large coffee cup of boiling water to cooler (on top of chopsticks to protect styrofoam) to prevent temp from dropping too much. 12 hours later jug was 90 F and yogurt was perfect, better than any store bought. Simply poured the liquid off the top and shook the rest, no straining. Consistency was not too thick to pour out. Just placed the jug back in fridge, approximately half full of yogurt. I finally tried this because the milk was turning a little sour before we got to drink it. Great instructable.
For my second gallon, It was not nearly spoiling and i did not do a preliminary microwave. This time it was more normal, so I need to strain. At least before straining it is good bit more sour. A friend was crazy about yesterday's batch. This time before straining its a lot more like walmarts plain yogurt.
One more I didn't really ask but just stated, how do you know it's done fermenting?
You're welcome. It's great to see everyone having fun with this. <br> <br>You can peek at it after 6 hours if you are in a hurry. If the temp in the incubator stays up over 100&ordm;F, you'll get full curd quickly. I usually just let it go 10 - 12 hours overnight.
Just wanted to thank you again! My yogurt turned out perfect!!!
I actually had a question too, are you switching lids in this or are the pics from 2 different batches? I'm just wondering how you deal with the hole in the top? I put some tape over mine to keep the bacteria from entering. I had to use scotch tape instead of masking tape like I'd normally use... I believe the yogurt making process is anaerobic anyway so it shouldn't need to breath.. I hope...
Good to hear you are enjoying the process. That's essential. <br> <br>Yes, I included images from different batches because I'm lazy like that. I used an oversized 20 quart kettle for a few batches and it surely was slow. It took me a while to find the perfect 12 quart kettle. (Most are too short, so bring an empty jug with you when you shop for a proper pot.) But the search was worth it, because the cooking goes much faster. If you are stuck with a big pot, use less water to save time and energy. You don't have to cover the jug pass half way. Just give the jug a swish to mix and assure you have an even and accurate temperature reading at the end. <br> <br>I don't think the yogurt cares about the hole in the cap, so long as you keep the jug upright. Or you can keep an un-pierced cap in the drawer to use from batch to batch. To prevent the jug from swelling while heating, give the cap a turn to loosen. That's enough to vent pressure from developing inside. <br> <br>Great questions. Let me know if I missed anything.
I love the line &quot;the yogurt doesn't care&quot;. I learned how to make yogurt from an Albanian neighbor, her gift to me when I moved away was a half-gallon of her delicious yogurt. I can't stand supermarket yogurt but if she made yogurt I would come running. <br> <br>When I am explaining how to make friends I used to say &quot;The yogurt critters will outlive cockroaches&quot;, but I like your version better.
Thanks for a great story. We need to be reminded that our little friends have served us for a long time. The human body would be something entirely different without the bacteria that sustain us.
Hi. Just tried your method. The result was tasty but an odd sticky texture. What I did differently: used low fat milk. Heated only to ~150F to begin with. Also there was quite a drop in temp in my yoghurtron overnight from 110 down to about 73. Which of these made to glueyness do you think?
I believe you developed a condition called &quot;ropiness.&quot; This is considered a defect in yogurt, but also a desired characteristic of other fermented milk products in the tropics. <br><br>It is definitely not caused by any variety of fat content you choose for the milk. It is possible that competing bacteria were able to work the milk protein into a different texture, but not likely with this method unless you spit in the jug.<br><br>More likely you just didn't get enough of the protein denatured. The sweet spot for yogurt curd is 180&ordm;F. Higher or lower temp scalding will produce less solid product. Premature cooling could have stunted the production of lactic acid, but that's less important. I have batches run down into the 90's overnight without any noticeable effect.<br><br>I hope you try again for better results. Start with a fresh commercial culture and pre-warm it on the counter while your milk is cooling. Hit your temp marks carefully and scrounge more insulation for your incubator. Once you have a few good batches, you can slack like me.
Thanks very much for that helpful reply. You are the Yoghurt King! I'll give it a try. I am a bit unwilling to do the heating part in the plastic bottle because we here in Australia have plastics that I am not convinced do well at high temps - i.e., the bottle tends to deform. So I am heating the milk carefully in a pan. I imagine there is no particular difference as long as the right temp is reached.<br>Phil.
You are very welcome. Cheers from Sarasota. <br> <br>I looked into Aussie milk jugs at dairy.edu.au and found that your dairymen use the same container material as ours -- high-density polyethylene. I promise it is safe for this purpose, but many commenters have expressed cultural reservations about using any plastic as a cooking utensil. Obviously there is no point to making food if it is not appetizing to you for any reason. <br> <br>Bear in mind that scalding in the plastic jugs isn't just faster and easier. It's also safer than a pot and far more sanitary. That is part of what makes a fermented food product appetizing too. Truth is, now that I'm producing 2 gallons every week, the jug method is my only practical option. <br> <br>However you go, please leave a note to tell us of your success.
Ok, just to bring the conclusion in: you are the King of Yoghurt. Perhaps the Emperor. Second batch - consistency was good but a bit tangy! I think using the first culture made it go odd&hellip; like the sour yoghurt we used to get in Central Asia&hellip; Batch 3 was a ripper. brought it to 80C, cooled to 42C, stirred in culture from a new yoghurt and 8 hours later - perfect. I am now on batch 4 - we eat a lot of it. <br>Thanks for your help.
Thanks very much for the feedback. Learning about your experience makes this more valuable for everyone. Sounds like you did get some stray bacteria in the 1st batch that carried over to the 2nd. Now that you've worked through all that, isolate a slug of your good yogurt right away to keep a pure starter for the next batch.
For the record, the pot that I used was way too big. It took about an hour to get up to temperature!
I am currently incubating my first batch! Not sure how to tell when it's done but I'm excited! It's only been 6hrs so ill likely just wait another 12 until I've come home from work to be safe. <br/><br/>Let me say, about 30 minutes in when the milk gets to around 120F it's a very dramatic experience! Steam pouring out of your pot in every direction, water jumping out, jug inflated like crazy. I was a little frightened haha
This tutorial is awesome! Clear, concise and I love the reiteration of "The yogurt doesn't care" to assure us the process doesn't need to be perfect!
Thank you. I hope you can put this method to good use. <br> <br>This month I surpassed 100 gallons. My culture is almost 2 years old. With warm weather, I'm making salads for lunch with yogurt dressing. To keep from running out, I need even bigger batches, and found that 2 jugs fit in a 20 quart kettle. With double the thermal mass, the process works even better and takes half the time.
I've been making yogurt by the gallon for a few years now and it never occured to me to heat the milk right in the container! That would save me SO many steps and grief from pouring and trasfering etc. I've got a gallon in the fridge and I'm waffling whether to feed it to my kefir grains or make some yogurt with it. Bah, I'll just buy a nother gallon and do both! Thanks for the ible. Your methods look sound and add to the community! Cheers!
&quot;I'll just buy a nother gallon and do both!&quot; <br> <br>I like the cut of your jib. Yes, if you are culturing milk routinely, this method can save several days a year of your life. Put them to good use. And thx for the encouragement.
Hi there! Your post gave me some great ideas. One of them was building a controled temperature box for the yogurt to ferment: http://www.instructables.com/id/Cheap-Arduino-Controled-Yogurt-Maker. I just built it today and hope to try it out soon!
You Arduino people are very clever. I'm envious of your ability to manipulate these devices. Your invention will certainly be helpful to people in cold houses.
So I finally tried this yesterday on a quart of milk, and as I feared it cooled down quite a bit over night. I can tell that it has some chunks in there, but I also looks milky, so I think it may need to sit longer.<br>I wrapped an electric heating pad around it this morning, hoping to give the little guys a boost.<br>From what you've said it sounds like they will keep working even if it's cold, but will do better if they are kept warm... How do I tell when they are really ready?
Never mind. It appears to have worked.

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Bio: retired chemist trying to stay out of trouble
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