How to Make Yogurt Turkish at Home, Step by Step
The word “yogurt” comes from the Turkish “yogurmak,” which means “to thicken.” It was first made, accidentally, by herders in Central Asia several thousand years ago. They used sheep stomachs to store their milk. The bacteria from the stomach lining thickened the milk into yogurt.
Yogurt has beneficial bacteria, calcium and protein. We believe yoghurt cleanses the body from toxins and poisons. From breakfast to dessert, there are endless possibilities for adding yogurt into your daily menu. You should eat yoghurt every day, at least one cup.
How to Make Yogurt, Step by Step
Making yogurt is part cooking, part science experiment. The first time will take a little longer as you learn the steps and remember to monitor the temperatures, but once you get the hang of it, yogurt making is easy and the result will be just as good as commercial yogurt.
Ingredients and Equipment
A gallon of milk makes a gallon of yogurt. While whole milk will lead to richer yogurt, even skim will produce it. There are fat-free yogurts in the store, after all. Raw or pasteurized both work. You can buy starters or simply use any brand of plain, unsweetened yogurt with active cultures from the store. (Not vanilla, although some may find that flavor plain!)
You can use a standard pot on the stovetop, a crock pot, or even an Instant Pot. Dedicated yogurt makers are nice, offering temperature control for consistent production. If some seem too large, consider the handy EuroCuisine YM80 yogurt maker, which allows you to make several separate small jars at once.
Heat It Up
Heat the milk up to at least 180 degrees F, but don’t boil it; a thermometer would be good here, but for those cooking by feel, the milk should be simmering, with tiny bubbles coming to the surface, but shy of a rolling boil. (Note: raw milk—not legally sold in most places—will be pasteurized if heated at 162 degrees F for at least 15 seconds, so this process will do that.) The heat alters proteins in the milk so that your yogurt doesn’t end up full of lumps. Be sure to stir to avoid burning on the bottom of the pot.
Cool It Down
Then let it cool down to 105 degrees (or use Mr. Gocmen’s method with your pinkie finger). When the milk has sufficiently cooled, stir in a bit of yogurt—a quarter cup for a gallon of milk, or 2 tablespoons for half of that—or store-bought yogurt starter according to the package instructions. Tip: add your yogurt starter to a cupful of the warm milk and stir it in there before mixing it into the rest of the milk.
As long as you maintain a temperature between about 90 and 115 degrees, the rest of this process is merely waiting. The trick is stabilizing that heat.
Vessels insulated with your winter jacket might not hold the temperature overnight. I learned that the hard way, but I was able to warm it back up gently for the save and still ended up with decent yogurt. (The microbes are like me: Too cold in the house? Stay in bed. Too hot to work? Stay in bed.) As I later learned with my sourdough starter, the oven light in a closed oven is a great modest and stable heat source.
How long does it take? If you also went through the stay-at-home-related sourdough craze, you know that answers may vary here. Yogurt is, in my humble opinion, nowhere near as touchy as sourdough starter and dough. Keep the temperature in that target range and sooner or later yogurt happens, typically in 6 to 12 hours, but maybe even a few hours longer if you’re on the cooler end of the range.
The yogurt is ready when… well, when it looks like yogurt! It has that thickened consistency, holds a shape on your spoon, and holds together when you jiggle the pot. At this point, you can refrigerate it, or leave it at room temperature a couple hours to sour up a bit more before moving it to the fridge.
Still hoping for something more “Greek-style” and Chobani-like? Pour your finished yogurt into a cheese cloth laid into a strainer and let the whey drip out until you find your favored consistency. This is “acid whey” (as opposed to “sweet whey” from cheese production) and can be repurposed for a variety of recipes, such as bread and waffles, or even lacto-fermented foods, such as sauerkraut.
Yogurt makes a good sour cream substitute in baking recipes, on potatoes, in tacos, etc. If you still prefer it sweet, you can add your own fresh (or syrupy, canned) fruits.
We need some tips to reach perfection!
- Don’t take milk from stove just when it boils. Keep boiling it for about 15 minutes to have thicker yogurt.
- To understand whether milk reaches the right temperature, use your finger if you don’t have a thermometer. dip your finger into hot milk, if your finger can bear its heat inside for some seonds (not more), it’s ok. It mustn’t be too hot or less hot than necessary. If it is too hot, you will get a sourish yogurt and if it doesn’t reach the right heat, it takes longer time to get the result.
- Wait the milk-yogurt at the warmest place of your home. Take the pot with hot milk to this place and wait it here to reach the right temperature. It warms this place at the same time, which is a necessary step for thick yogurt.
- Put a thick blanket or under the pot (one of your pullowers will work just fine for this, its arms can hug the pot to protect it from cold). And then mix it with the starter in the way explained above. You can pour it into jars at this step if you like.
- Put the lid on the pot, but don’t cover it completely as your milk-yogurt needs some air inside. You can even use a suitable colander instead of its lid. This will help evaporation and yogurt will not be watery.