Off-Grid Yogurt Making

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

One of our favorite breakfasts is a good, old-fashioned yogurt. And I make up our yogurt in 5 gallon batches. Yes, we eat that much yogurt. So, here’s a few short cuts I’ve learned over time while managing a ton of kiddos and homeschooling.

I remember reading the books about yogurt making and they all declared it was the easiest thing and so quick and simple. I quickly discovered that it was quick if you were working in small batches. Having a large family, that just wasn’t going to cut it for me. So, I needed to adapt the methods.

The first task was to warm the inside of our big Lifetime cooler we bought at Walmart. I just put a hot pot of fresh off the stove water in a jar on a towel down in the cooler and close it up. I want it to warm up before adding the milk to the cooler.

Now, it’s time to start the yogurt process. The first thing I learned is that if I put my enormous, industrial 5 gallon pot inside a slightly bigger one with water in it, it works as a double boiler. I could crank my stove up to high, pop the lid on and walk away. The recipes all called for stirring constantly, but I had math to teach, and pre-algebra and stirring milk just do not go hand in hand.

So, I popped in a thermometer, topped it with a lid, cranked the heat to high and taught math. When they got to independent work, I would check the temperature gauge. Once it reached the obligatory 190 degrees Fahrenheit, the kids had moved onto something independent and I could take the 15 minutes needed to get the 190 degrees back down to 115 degrees. I filled the sink with ice and water and this is where my young nephews and I play the cool the milk game.

With a long handled scoop in both our hands and cold water running on the sides we scoop and ladle and laugh and giggle as we watch the thermometer bob around and wonder how much longer it will take. I have the BEST yogurt making help. It comes in the form of a 2 year old, a 4 year old, and a cutie pie 6 year old once he’s done with reading. The 2 year old gets sad that the yogurt milk is too hot for him to help cool it. And the 4 year old explains that one day he will be old enough to help Aunt Karen cool the milk but that he needs to wait until he’s bigger.

The thermometer hits the magic number and the 2 year old gets to help at this point. We mix 1 cup of the last batch of yogurt in with a couple of cups of milk and the 2 year old gets to stir them together. Then, we mix our small bowl into the big one and the pouring into quart jars commences. This part Aunt Karen has to do, but the four year old helps lid and ring the jars.

Now, comes the yogurt making moment. The four year old helps me fill our big cooler with the full quarts of milk. I set small pots of hot water on top of the quart jars to keep everything toasty warm in the cooler. With the lid closed we wait.

About 8 hours later, we pull the quart jars full of fresh yogurt out of the cooler and set them in the fridge for them to be ready for the next day’s breakfast.

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