Want to impress your friends with slick looking jars of ready-to-eat yogurt in individual single-serving containers? Want to save time by having the fruit and sweetener already in the jar, layered and ready for the mixing when YOUR time is right? I have found a simple method to have yogurt ready for my family’s lunches, and at any point in the week all one has to do is grab a jar from the fridge and go!
There is actually another reason, besides convenience, for culturing in individual jars. As with any live culture, you expect variances in your end product since you do not have the controlled environment one has from a commercial retailer/producer. I was having issues with the “presentation” of my Matsoni yogurt.
In my personal experience, when culturing a mesophilic culture (it cultures at room-temperature without requiring a yogurt maker or electricity), I find that when I use raw milk especially, the yogurt looks perfectly smooth and thick when complete. However, when it comes time to scoop out what we want individually to plop into a bowl or cup, the yogurt becomes a bit runnier than what we are traditionally used to. Although it is absolutely delicious, it isn’t pleasing to the eye. I fixed this by skipping an extra “handling” step…I culture in individual jars so the yogurt looks pretty and untouched.
Mesophilic Yogurt is easy! It’s all about ratios and half pint jars.
- Mesophilic cultures require one Tablespoon of culture per 1 cup of milk (not High Temperature, Ultra High Temperature or Flash pasteurized milk please!). Since half pint jars will not hold a full cup of yogurt, sweetener, and fruit, I adjust the ratio by mixing directly into the jar: ½ tsp. culture and 1/3 cup of milk.
- If you use a small box or tray, you can save time and lessen the amount of jolting when moving jars off the counter, and in/out of the fridge. Using the same box the jars came in is perfect, as they will fit snuggly if you are doing all 12 jars. Of course, you can do less than this amount, and a tray or box is still very helpful.
- Let this culture its 12-18 hour time frame at 70 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Put it in the fridge to finish setting for 6 hours. Remove from fridge and in assembly-line fashion put the final two layers in the jars. Add your sweetener if desired (we measure about ½ -1 cm. maple syrup in height), and then your frozen or fresh fruit.
- Then screw on the lids and put the whole tray of jars back in the fridge until you’re ready to consume!
You can, of course, do the assembly-line additions to thermophilic yogurts as well.
- If you have half-pint jars, again adjust the ratio of 1 ½ – 2 tsp. culture per cup of milk and use what fits in your jar, leaving room for sweetener and fruit.
- If you have a yogurt maker or other incubation device such as a dehydrator or oven that goes as low as the temperature range of 105-112 degrees Fahrenheit, you can easily culture yogurt in these small jars. Simply culture for 5-8 hours, cool for 2 hours, and allow to sit in the fridge for an additional 6 hours. Then add your sweetener and fruit.
- Always be prepared by having fresh/frozen fruit and sweeteners on hand. Our favorite fruits are Oregon strawberries or blueberries, which we stock up on during their season and then freeze to use the rest of the year! Maple syrup is our sweetener of choice, but you can use agave, honey, or whatever suits your fancy.
Fruity yogurt from the store is no comparison to the lovely jars of yogurt you can make each week at home. Go for it!