In my mind, making your own yogurt has always been one step above making your own deodorant, which is not very far from wearing patchouli oil and eating bread with hemp in it. Ok, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Let’s just sum it up by saying that I never thought I’d be one to jump on the organic-cultured-at-home-yogurt bandwagon. I’ve mentioned before that I have an appreciation for good food. Believe it or not, that appreciation actually extends beyond world-class pie, pizza and donuts. When I began to research the benefits of sugar-free eating, along with an overall tendency towards “clean eating”, and going more natural and organic, I immediately found that there are very, very few options for healthy, tasty and sugar-free yogurt. I checked Trader Joe’s and natural food co-ops, but consistently found options that were STILL loaded with sugar. My mom mentioned that she had a yogurt maker, and my curiosity was piqued. I started looking up recipes online, and found that many people make their own yogurt at home. Besides the health benefits, it also seems that it’s a budget-friendly practice. Bonus!
During my week up north, my mom and I made our first batch of yogurt. I’ve made it three times since, with success each time. The last batch was the best yet, with a smooth, creamy texture and a rich, delicious taste. The yogurt I make is plain. I add berries, golden flax and a bit of agave nectar for sweetness. It’s the perfect breakfast. I use a yogurt maker, but it is entirely possible to make your own yogurt without a fancy contraption. Below is the recipe I use, and directions for finishing the yogurt using a yogurt maker or a cooler. I’ve also included a couple other links that have some really helpful tips.
:: ingredients ::
1 quart milk
(I use fat free organic milk, but any type will do)
1 single serving container plain yogurt
(I use a fat free plain greek yogurt)
:: directions ::
1) Boil milk in a high-sided saucepan, for 1 to 2 minutes until the milk starts to climb the side of the pot. Do no stir the milk during this process. A skin will form on the bottom of the pan and it’s best to not scrape it up, unless you want strange chunks in your yogurt. While some choose to use a thermometer for this part of the process, heating to milk to a precise 180 degrees, I have found that just waiting until the milk begins to climb the pan works just great.
2) Remove the saucepan from heat and let the milk cool to a lukewarm temperature. If you’re like me, and slightly impatient, you may choose to use this simple method of speeding down the cooling process. Fill a larger pot with cold water and then carefull set the pot of milk in the cold water.
3) Once the milk is lukewarm, stir one cup of milk with the yogurt in a separate bowl until you have a smooth mixture.
4) Then add the rest of the milk to the bowl and stir very well until smooth. I use a large mixing bowl with a spout for this process. You’ll see why in a minute.
5) Next, pour the mixture into small glass jars. My mom’s yogurt maker comes with a set of 7, which are the perfect size for a single serving.
:: culturing the yogurt ::
If you have a yogurt maker, you will simply place the glass jars without lids into the maker, then cover, and set the timer to the number of hours desired. I have found that about 10.5 hours works best for making yogurt with skimmed milk. If you are using whole, 2% or 1%, the time you need to make the yogurt will be less.
If you don’t have a yogurt maker, you will need a cooler, a few towels and a couple pitchers of warm water. The premise is the same. Basically the yogurt needs a warm place for the live cultures to grow. With the non-electric method, you will simply set a few pitchers of warm water in a large cooler, and then tuck your yogurt in, using a few towels to keep the heat close. Since the heat isn’t as constant, you will likely need to leave your yogurt “cooking” for a longer period of time. Make sure to leave the yogurt be during this process, as any disturbing can effect the final product.
Once your yogurt has finishing culturing, you should place it in the refrigerator for about 3 hours so it can cool and firm up. Then taste and enjoy!
:: resources ::
Here are few other sites that have some great tips on making yogurt at home! Do you make your own yogurt (or cheese)? If so, I’d love to hear from you. I have much to learn in this arena, and any tips are appreciated. Also, if my directions leave you with any questions, feel free to pipe up and I will try to clarify or explain.
Frugal Granola – How to Make Yogurt
A Year of Slow Cooking – Crockpot Yogurt
Mahalo – How to Make Yogurt