Homemade Vanilla Yogurt in a Thermos

I’ve written about yogurt before, but I thought it was worth a revisit. I’ve been making my own yogurt now for about 10 years, and I’ve changed very little about the process. Surprisingly, I’d never made vanilla yogurt until recently. I’d really been missing out on a wonderful, classic flavor.

Making the Yogurt

Start by bringing to a simmer (about 200 degrees) in a double boiler:

5 c. whole milk

I make my own double boiler by putting a stainless steel bowl inside of a pot of water, and it works great. You can see an example here.

Cool the milk to 110 degrees. It goes a lot faster if you put the pot or bowl on ice, but since my ice maker is broken, I often let it sit on the counter and check on it every 20 minutes, then 10, then 5, as it gets closer. 110 degrees feels warm but not hot to the touch.

Whisk into the cooled milk:

2 T. plain yogurt with active cultures.

If I don’t have any starter from a previous batch, I buy the smallest container of plain Greek yogurt from Walmart.

Immediately pour the milk into a Thermos and put the lid on tightly. Set it somewhere where it won’t be disturbed for 8-12 hours.

Flavoring the Yogurt

Once the yogurt is done incubating, it’s time to flavor it. First, remove 2 T. of plain yogurt and store it in the fridge or freezer for a future batch.

To make vanilla yogurt, whisk in the following:

1/2 – 2/3 c. sugar (The full amount of sugar is what you’d find in commercial yogurt. I like it less sweet for eating with granola.)

2 1/2 t. vanilla extract

(I’m not fancy enough to use vanilla beans, but I hear they’re good as well.)

Refrigerate the yogurt until it’s completely cold. It will get thicker as it chills.

My favorite way to eat vanilla yogurt is still with fruit and granola. It’s one of my favorite breakfasts that I can customize easily. If I get tired of one combination, I can change the flavor of the yogurt, the type of fruit, or the type of nuts in the granola.

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