Fermentation as a Means of Food Preservation: Part IV

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Today we present another article in our non-fiction writing contest – by Bam Bam

I would be remiss if I wrote a series on fermentation and neglected to mention yogurt. So, last night I made my first batch of yogurt. I can tell you it is incredibly easy (and delicious). The total cost was just over $2 for a half gallon of yogurt (not counting the starter). Score!

Here’s what I did. First, I bought some plain Greek yogurt (with active cultures) as I normally do. Greek yogurt is significantly thicker than ordinary yogurt. (I didn’t include the price of the store-bought yogurt because this is something I would have purchased anyway, and I can keep using a half of a cup of the homemade yogurt as the starter for the next batch. Like kombucha and kefir, you only need to purchase the starter once.)

When I got home from the store I set out a half of a cup of the store-bought yogurt in a bowl on the counter to let it warm as I started making the homemade yogurt. Next, I poured just over half a gallon of milk into my Dutch oven and heated it on medium-high to 200 degrees. It took about 20 minutes, standing in front of the stove whisking the milk to prevent scorching. Next I cooled the milk in a water bath. (I just put the whole pot into my sink filled with ice water, and stirred it a few times to prevent a skin from forming on the top of the milk.) I did this until the temperature of the milk dropped to 120 degrees. This took about ten minutes. (This initial step is necessary to alter the structure of the milk protein.)

While the milk was cooling another five degrees (to 115 degrees), I scooped out about a cup of warm milk and mixed it with the room temperature store-bought yogurt. When the pot cooled to 115 degrees I poured the diluted yogurt-milk mixture into the pot, and whisked it well. (This step inoculates the warmed milk with the live yogurt culture.)

Next, I put the Dutch oven in a homemade warmer box. The yogurt should stay at about 110 degrees for six hours. For my warmer box, I put an electric heating pad in the bottom of a cardboard box that was just bigger than my Dutch oven. (I had to cut a hole in the box for the cord.) I turned on the heating pad, wrapped the Dutch oven in towels and set it in the cardboard box. Then I insulated it with additional towels and a pillow. (Note: If you have a cooler that is just bigger than your Dutch oven, that will work as well. Just put the Dutch oven in the cooler with several bottles of hot water.)

bam bam pic 2After six hours I removed the Dutch oven from the heating box, and set it in the refrigerator overnight. (Homemade yogurt will last 7-10 days in the refrigerator.) We just finished breakfast and the yogurt was delicious. It was full of probiotic goodness and had no added sugars. This is another product I won’t have to purchase from the grocery store, and that frees up money for other preps. My fermentation adventures have given me a sense of independence. I realize now, looking back, that my goal has been to learn to make as much stuff at home as I can.

In the last two days I’ve watched seven of the eight episodes of BBC’s Wartime Farm. This documentary is about three people who spend a year working a farm in the English countryside as if it were WW2 England. (All eight episodes are available on Youtube.com.)

Prior to the war England imported two-thirds of its food. The Germans began sinking cargo ships, which put a stranglehold on imports. So food, fuel and other necessities were rationed.

This series impacted me greatly. I came to realize that I have been seeking the confidence that if I came into a windfall of a particular type of food during times of shortage, I could preserve it without fear of waste. What would you do if food was scarce and you were suddenly handed 10 gallons of milk or 20 pounds of cabbage? Would you have the skills to process it without loosing any to spoilage?

The longer I prep the more I realize that the material goods we stock are only to get us through the first year or so. Beyond this, it’s all skill—food preservation skills, self-defense skills, hunting and trapping skills, carpentry and engineering skills, etc.

Prizes for this round (ends October 11 2015 ) in our non fiction writing contest include…

  1. First place winner will receive –  Two Just In Case… Essential Assortment Buckets courtesy of LPC Survival a $147 value, a  Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Grain Mill courtesy of FoodPrepper.com a $219 value, and a gift certificate for $150 off of  Rifle Ammunition courtesy of LuckyGunner Ammo… Total first place prize value over $516 dollars.
  2. Second Place Winner will receive – A case of Sopakco Sure-Pak MRE – 12 Meals and a Lifestraw Family Unit courtesy of Camping Survival.com, and a One Month Food Pack courtesy of Augason Farms.com
  3. Third place winner will receive –  $50 cash.


  1. Mother Earth says:

    I make yogurt too. I actually bought a yogurt maker which does most of the work. It does use electricity, however, I can do it the “hard way” too. It’s very good and I control the quality which is important to me.
    I also do sour cream and sour dough starter. I bought the cultures for a couple of bucks which is quite cheap if you continue to make your own.
    I agree with BamBam, the more skills you acquire, the less you are affected with the craziness going on.

  2. I thought it was only a 3 parter. This is great!

    • JP,

      Part IV was an add-on. I am glad I figured out how to make yogurt. I made half a gallon and it disappeared in less than three days.

      • Bam Bam: Well thanks anyway. DW uses it every morning and I have some off-grid friends that do too.

  3. Bam Bam – u knocked another 1 out of the park…..tyVM! My cousin told me how she used to make yog on her stovetop when pilot lights were still in vogue….. (is vulgar vogue’s ‘passe’ tense?). TY again!

    • Thanks, Bobbo. I think “in vorgue” is a preposition and not a verb, so it wouldn’t take a tense in English (but it would in Latin).

  4. Been making yogurt in mason jars for decades by doing the last bit on an electric heat pad. Got to thinking here lately about how to get by without electricity in the final process and came up with using a soapstone bed warmer for the final heat source in combination with a Igloo Ice Cube Max Cold 70 quart cooler. The cooler also doubles as a slow cooker when lined with an old comforter. Just place a hot pot in it and wrap the comforter around and close the lid.

    • Thanks, Bobbo. I think “in vorgue” is a preposition and not a verb, so it wouldn’t take a tense in English (but it would in Latin).

    • Tommy2rs,

      Have you ever made yogurt with powdered milk? I have cases morning moo and nonfat milk, and I’d sure like to use some of that, especially as they near expiration dates.

      • I’ve made it with Nestle Nido Fortificado a couple of times after I read about it on a boating website. Just wanted to see if it worked and it did.


        No I didn’t try using the Thermos like suggested in the article, just went with the mason jars and heating pad like I usually did. Cleanup time and effort versus the benefit of using a thermos just didn’t compute for me. But then I seriously hate doing dishes. YMMV

        • This is great. Now I want to try making yogurt from powdered milk–a perfect way to use dry milk before it expires.

      • Diana Smith says:

        I made it with powdered milk a few years back (like twenty). Just mix the milk double strong in warm water, add the starter and place in a gallon jar surrounded by a heating pad on low and a thick towel. About 14 hours later you have yogurt. I remember having to experiment with times as heat settings and pads vary.

  5. I really enjoyed this series great work I need to reread snd dtart to practice some of this. Great info

  6. I also make yogurt regularly. For my family, I start with a gallon of whole milk, then I add a few cups of powdered milk before heating it. Like Bam Bam, I put the pot in a sink of cold water to bring the temperature back down, then add the starter. Once all mixed, I put my pot in the oven with the oven light on and leave it there for the night.

    Greek yogurt is so thick because much of the whey has been removed. To imitate this at home, I add the milk powder to the fresh milk.

    • B,

      I made another batch last night. For my next batch I am going to open a can of powdered milk and add a cup of powdered milk.

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