Make Your Own Off-the-Grid Yogurt in Large Jars

By Liesl Clark

I’m amazed at how hard it is to find yogurt in glass. Supermarket yogurt is all in plastic containers and if you’re trying to keep your family plastic-free, yogurt would have to be taken off your list. Unless you make your own.

We’ve been making yogurt for about 10 years now and it wasn’t until about 2 years ago that I realized I didn’t have to make it in a yogurt maker with those tiny little jars. When I was 16, I recall making yogurt on the beach in a big camp pot when we were camping during the summer on the island of Corsica in France. The simple process of making yogurt in a pot, bowl or jars in the sun or by a fire should’ve stuck with me, but somehow I became complacent thinking I needed a yogurt maker to make the good stuff. Not so.

Off-the grid yogurt with honey from our bees. Photo © Liesl Clark

Off-the grid yogurt with honey from our bees. Photo © Liesl Clark

Today, I make yogurt in bulk — large quart mason jars of it so I can share starter with friends or barter it for other fresh produce or home-made goodies. I don’t need any electricity to make it so I call it off-the-grid yogurt, reminiscent of my teen days in France.

This yogurt is the best I’ve ever made or tasted. All started from organic Greek full cream goat’s milk yogurt. But now I simply use our local organic whole milk as the yogurt’s main ingredient, which is delivered once a week to our home. This yogurt lasts in the fridge for months without molding!

All you need is a couple of tablespoons of leftover yogurt as your starter for the next batch. We usually make at least 2 quarts of yogurt.

Ingredients:

Whole milk (at least 1 quart)

2 Tablespoons yogurt (I prefer organic)

Jars with lids

Pour your favorite whole milk into a pot. There’s no exact measurement for this, just pour as much milk as you want yogurt. It’s basically a 1:1 ratio of milk to finished yogurt.

Pour whole milk into a pot. Photo © Liesl Clark

Pour whole milk into a pot. Photo © Liesl Clark

Set your timer for about 8 minutes so you don’t let the milk boil over.

Set your timer for 8 minutes. Photo © Liesl Clark

Set your timer for 8 minutes. Photo © Liesl Clark

You want to heat up the milk until it scalds. You’ve scalded it when little bubbles start to appear on the sides of the pot and a film develops on the surface.

Scald your milk. Film on top is proof of scalding. Photo © Liesl

Scald your milk. Film on top is proof of scalding. Photo © Liesl

Turn the heat off and take the yogurt off the burner to cool. Let it cool to room temperature. Add your 2 tablespoons of yogurt and with a wire whisk, whisk the yogurt completely into the milk. Pour the milk/yogurt mix into jars.

Place your jars of yogurt into a pot of warm water. You want to create a warm water bath. I simply put my pot of water over our pilot light and that’s enough to keep the jars warm overnight. You can also place the jars on a warm lintel above your fire in a towel or blanket for warmth. The key is to have a spot that is consistently warm for 8-12 hours. The longer you let your yogurt mixture sit in the warmth, the firmer it gets. I go about 12 hours.

Water bath pot over pilot light method. Photo © Liesl Clark

Water bath pot over pilot light method. Photo © Liesl Clark

When it’s to the consistency you like, put it in the fridge to let it cool. Enjoy!

Off-the-grid yogurt in a quart jar. Photo © Liesl Clark

Off-the-grid yogurt in a quart jar. Photo © Liesl Clark

My friend Rebecca has another method, which I call the warm cooler method: It involves putting your yogurt jars-in-the-making in a cooler surrounded by other jars of warm water and some blankets and towels. Check out her excellent method here.

Looking for other sweet things you can do with your jars? Please visit our Trash Backwards app for great jar reuse ideas. Here’s a sampling of the hundreds of great things to do with mason jars:

Click Through for Mason Jar Reuses at Trash Backwards

Click Through for Mason Jar Reuses at Trash Backwards

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Categories: DIY, Plastic-Free Living, Trash Pile - All Our Stuff

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10 Comments on “Make Your Own Off-the-Grid Yogurt in Large Jars”

  1. January 20, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    I am so sharing this recipe, I thought yogurt making was hard and time consuming!

    • January 20, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

      Easy peasy, Lois! I can do it almost in my sleep. Only tough part is making sure your milk doesn’t boil, so definitely put a timer on. It’ll be the best yogurt you’ve ever had.
      — Liesl at Trash Backwards

  2. lindalw666
    January 20, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    I never knew this either. I am going to try it. I love glass jars as well, and never look to be rid of them. Only problem is that I’ve been known to buy something mainly for the little jar, and before you know it, I am awash in little glass jars. Ah. Well that could be worse. Fond regards!

    • January 20, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

      Hi Linda! So glad you’re going to give it a try. Let me know how it goes.
      — Liesl at Trash Backwards

  3. January 21, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    Can it be done with a lower fat milk at all?

    • January 21, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

      Hi knotrune:
      I’ve never tried it with a lower fat milk but I’m sure it’ll work. A culture is a culture and it’ll grow with heat. I’ve seen (and eaten) yogurt made from powdered milk in the Himalayas! So, do give it a try and let us know how it goes.
      — Liesl at Trash Backwards

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