**Note: This blog is still in the making, so bear with me as the format changes. Meanwhile, enjoy the recipes!
We’ve all seen the the countless yogurt commercials that sing the praises of the health benefits of yogurt (a bellydancing girl in the green hula skirt comes to mind). But if you're like me, the cost, the long list of ingredients and the plastic waste isn't so appealing. Making your own yogurt is much cheaper, better for you and more environmentally friendly.
Yogurt is an oober healthy food, especially when you make it yourself. There is good bacteria (those well-advertised probiotics!) in yogurt called Lactobacillus Bulgaricus, Lactobacillus Bulgaricus, and Steptococcus Thermophilus, which helps to balance the chemical soup in your gut. Also, it is extra beneficial for women as these bacteria help to fight against such delights as yeast infections. However the added sugar and preservatives in store-bought yogurt are not as benefial. Here is a great alternative!
I grew up eating my mom’s homemade yogurt, which I knew was healthy but I sometimes found liquidy and a bit sour. Since moving out I’ve adapted and (I believe) improved on her methods to make a thicker, creamier yogurt. It is very versatile: I use it for cooking, baking, and for eating by itself or with granola.
- 1L milk, organic if you can find it (I use homogenized for creamy yogurt)
- 1 tbsp plain yogurt - this is your starter. (I find Astro Balkan-style yogurt works best to start, but once you get going you can use a tbsp of homemade yogurt)
Yes, that’s it for ingredients!
Heat up your milk in a medium-sized pot and boil for about 5 min. Let it cool until warm but you can still keep your finger in it for 10 seconds comfortably (about 108-112°). You want it warm enough to multiply the bacteria, but not hot enough to kill it. You can get yogurt makers that come with a special thermometer that will tell you the optimum temperature to add your starter.
Add one spoonful of starter to your warm milk (plain yogurt). The bacteria in the yogurt will multiply and turn the milk to yogurt! Pour into a glass bowl, container, or small portion-sized bowls and cover tightly with plastic wrap or lid. Place in your oven WITH ONLY THE LIGHT ON. Incubate for 8-10 hours and then refrigerate well. Voilà, yogurt. When ready to eat, enjoy it plain or add berries, jam, honey or maple syrup to taste.
If it doesn’t work (i.e. turn into yogurt), your milk was probably too hot or too cold when you added the starter. You can try reheating the mixture and repeating the process.
A simple way to incubate a small amount of yogurt is to pour the yogurt mixture into a thermos and cover with a tight lid. When the yogurt is ready, loosen the thermos lid before storing it in the refrigerator so the yogurt can cool rapidly.
Here is a recipe for making yogurt in a crock-pot! I haven't tried it yet, but it looks fun and great for making large quantities.