Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Yogurt 101

I'm doing a little experiment today, not only in the form of this blog post as a pattern plus recipe but also an experiment in microbiology--culturing milk to make yogurt.

It's worth making your own yogurt for two reasons: (1) it is fairly easy and inexpensive to make yogurt at home and (2) yogurt has a number of health benefits. Milk becomes yogurt by encouraging friendly microbes to multiply and breakdown lactose and other molecules in milk. To do this, you simply combine a small amount of yogurt (from the previous batch or from store-bought yogurt) with milk and heat everything up to encourage the microbes to grow.

So how does this all relate to knitting? Well, the yogurt/milk mixture needs to be kept warm for several hours during the culturing process. Wrapping a towel around the culturing container is one way to keep the liquid warm, but as a knitter I find the idea of using a jar cozy to be much more appealing. Both in terms of the cozy-factor and the cute-factor.

My Yogurt 101 lesson goes through both how to make yogurt in a standard one-quart canning jar as well as how to knit a cozy for that jar to help with the culturing process. Do try this at home!

Making the Yogurt
Using directions from The Curious Cook

1 quart whole milk
2 Tbsp store-bought or homemade yogurt

Slowly warm milk to just below boiling (180-190 F), being careful not to scorch it. Allow the milk to cool to 115-120 F. Whisk in yogurt and pour mixture into warm one-quart canning jar. Cover jar with cozy and let sit undisturbed for about 4 hours or until the yogurt sets up. If you want your yogurt to be thicker, strain it through a cheesecloth. Store yogurt in the fridge.

Making the Jar Cozy

- 75 yards Cascade Eco Wool (or another bulky wool yarn)
- Set of five US size 10 [6 mm] dpns

15.5 stitches and 22 rows = 4 inches in stockinette

Cast-on 48 stitches. Divide stitches evenly over 4 needles (12 stitches per needle).
Join to work in the round, bring careful not to twist.

Work in [K1, P1] rib for 2 inches.

Work in stockinette (all knit) for 5 inches.

Decrease for bottom as follows;
Work [K to last 2 stitches on needle, K2tog] a total of 4 times.
Repeat this row 9 more times until 8 stitches remain.

Break yarn and pull end through remaining stitches.
Weave in ends, put jar into cozy and make yogurt!


Shortmonm said...

Thank you so much for sharing the recipes for yogurt & the cozy! I'm planning to share your site with some Homeschool families who will be thrilled.

Dee said...

This is such a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

Kristin said...

Thanks so much for your nice comments. I'm always happy to hear that people enjoy my little pattern musings.

And Pam, that's so sweet of you to pass my blog on. I hope that your friends enjoy making yogurt!

Anonymous said...

I have been making my own ogurt for many years (I put my quart jar in a styrofoam cooler along with another quart jar of boiling water and let it stand overnight) but I have always added some milk powder to it without knowing why (all the recipes I have ever seen have called for it!) Since I always say that the ONLY thing I don't like about my yogurt is the instant milk taste, I will make the next batch without any. I use low fat milk and it works just as well as whole fat milk. If it works I may find myself knitting a yogurt cozy too.

Kristin said...

I'm not an expert at making yogurt, but I imagine that the milk powder helps thicken the yogurt, especially if you are making it with low-fat milk.

This recipe makes yogurt that is thinner than store-bought but because it tastes so much better than store-bought, the thinness doesn't bother me.

Anonymous said...

Blimey, Briney! That's positively brillo pads!

Kristin said...

I love you Tzippi! Haha, brillo pads...

Maggie said...

I love the cozy! So cute. And a great way to keep your yogurt warm. And I may use that recipe sometime (although I'm not a great cook so it's more likely I'll share it with someone and make them make me some). It does seem a bit strange to me that you use yogurt to make yogurt, though. If you have to buy some to make some, doesn't that defeat the point? Ha ha.

Kristin said...


Yea, that is one of the crazy things about yogurt that you use yogurt to make more yogurt. It's kind of like sourdough bread in that respect. I look at it as a positive because I can easily get more culture if mine gets too old and dies.

Unknown said...

The yogurt looks delicious! I think I may have to try it sometime!

Indiamommy said...

I was looking for a mason jar cozy to knit, and this looks great! Thanks. I liked it so much I linked you to my site!


Kristin said...


Thanks for the nice comments and the link to my site! I'm always glad when some finds my pattern scribblings useful!


frugalmom said...

I found you through a Rav search for a jar cozy...I knew I'd find one! I make yogurt as well and you will find that if you let it culture longer, it will be thicker.

namastade said...

Homemade yogurt is the best. Love the idea of the cozy to contain the heat. I use my mom's 1978 Salton Yogurt maker. I tossed the white corning jars and old lids and traded them in for the small canning jelly jars, amazing results.

I really would like to turn everyone on to a USA made product called CUPPOW, made by two young upstarts from Boston (I believe) the CUPPOW is a plastic lid that replaces the disc of the canning jar. The idea is to have a portable drinking vessel using a mason jar. No more plastic water bottles or styrafome coffee cups to toss away.


You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!