Sunday, December 27, 2009

Homemade Yogurt

We eat a lot of yogurt in our family. My baby especially loves it. The problem is, it can be pretty expensive if you can't find a good deal on it. Making yogurt is very simple and inexpensive. Also, by making my own yogurt, I control the ingredients that go in. A yogurt maker is not needed.

I buy my starter yogurt in the grocery store in a 32 ounce container. Plain is what you want. To make life easier, I spoon 2 TBS of yogurt into each section of an ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen, I remove them from the tray and place in a zippered freezer bag for storage. You can re-culture yogurt from the yogurt you make, but after time that fizzles out and you'll need to use a new starter from the freezer. 32 ounces lasts a pretty good while.

Items needed:

32 ounces of whole milk
2 TBS of live culture plain yogurt (this is your starter)
Thermometer
Boiling Water
2 Thermoses

Preparation:

  1. Pour boiling water into the thermoses to sterilize them. You may also want to sterilize the thermometer and spoon that you use to stir the yogurt.
  2. Heat the milk in a pan to 200 degrees. Hold the milk at that temperature for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, allow the milk to cool to 110 degrees. While the milk is cooling, pour the water out of the thermoses. You do not want them so hot that they kill the bacteria in the yogurt starter.
  3. When the milk reaches 110 degrees, pour off 1 cup into another container and add the yogurt starter. Stir well and then add it back to the original pan of milk. Stir again. Now, pour this mixture into the thermoses and close tightly.
  4. Allow it to incubate in a warm area for 12 hours. As the yogurt sits, it becomes thicker and more tart. Let it incubate until it has a flavor that you like. This yogurt is not going to be as gelatinous as commercial yogurt, but you'll become used to that.
  5. After the yogurt is done, place it in the refrigerator and enjoy! You can sweeten it with sugar, honey, Splenda, etc. I like to add wheat germ and frozen fruit that I thaw and puree. Fresh fruit is good too.

Additional notes:

  • If you like a really thick yogurt, you can allow it to sit for 24 hours. You can also strain it like you would make a yogurt "cheese" for additional thickness.
  • A heating pad on low can be used to help hold the heat in the thermos if it's especially chilly.
  • If you prefer to use skim milk, add 1/2 cup of non-fat powdered milk to the mixture to help make the yogurt less watery.
  • I've added a vanilla bean to the cooking milk for vanilla yogurt. You can add a sweetener after it's incubated if you'd like.
  • Don't have a thermos? Put the yogurt in a jar with a lid and insulate by wrapping a towel around it.
  • The liquid that forms on top of the yogurt is the whey and can be stirred back in or poured off. Stirring it in will give you a more tart yogurt.
  • You can make creme fraiche with whipping cream by culturing it with a spoonful of your own live-culture yogurt and making it the same way.

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