Thursday, July 24, 2014

Homemade Yogurt: easier than expected.

If you've never made your own yogurt, it's very simple.

Recently, due to some ongoing health issues, I've had to make a lot of changes to my diet under the recommendation of a doctor.  This mainly includes eliminating processed sugar and grains entirely from my diet, and for the most part it's probably not that bad of an idea.

Yogurt is a really easy way to have something ready-to-eat in the morning that is high in protein and calcium.  Store-bought yogurts tend to contain extra lactose, which can be hard for some people to digest.  In addition, flavored yogurts tend to have lots of sugar and, in general, be kind of on the more expensive side.  I have always wanted to try making my own yogurt, but I assumed it was expensive, difficult, and required some type of special equipment that I didn't already have.

Not true at all.  You need:

A regular pan with a lid
a thermometer (mine is a meat thermometer, but it totally worked)
a bunch of milk (in my case, a half gallon carton of organic milk which was on sale)
some already existent yogurt (You only have to buy this part once if you time it well)
a big jar - some recipes direct you to sterilize it, some do not.  I did just to be on the safe side.

Heat the milk to 180 degrees F.
Let it cool to 115 degrees F.
Stir in the yogurt.
Pour your mixture into a jar. No lid yet!
Put it somewhere warm-ish and wait.  I set my oven to warm a few minutes before my yogurt was ready to be put in the jar, then I turned it off and let it cool down a bit. This is important, because you don't want to kill the microbes working on turning your milk into yogurt. I put the yogurt jar wrapped in a tea towel inside there for about 5 hours.

After the 5 hours in a warm or at least out-of-the-way place, you can put a lid on it and stick it in the refrigerator and just wait until it gets cold.  I will say that it is a totally different texture from the yogurt at the store, because there are no thickeners in yours.  The flavor is all there, though, and you can add whatever you want, as far as flavors go.  I had some old vanilla beans waiting to be used, so I added those and a tiny bit of honey to mine this morning.  I recommend, of course, that you try to use some yogurt that you like the flavor of, because yours will have a similar taste since you are using all the same bacteria. (I am not 100% sure if that statement is a fact, but I thought the one I made had a very similar taste to the starter I used.)

I didn't take any pictures yet, but here is a good recipe: David Lebovitz's Homemade Yogurt Recipe