Thursday, November 4, 2010

Simple Yogurt 101

Making Homemade Yogurt can be simple and easy, and save you on your grocery bill!   I'll show you how I make it, and it's the easiest way I've found. I've tried in the crockpot- that was a curdled disaster. This method you leave the jars in a warm place for about 12 hours, and it's all done!   You don't need a fancy yogurt maker, just supplies you have on hand!

You will need:
  • Whole Milk, preferably grass-fed and raw.
  • A previous batch of plain yogurt, you can use some brands of store bought yogurt, brand i've tried include Trader Joes Whole Milk Plain Organic, Seven Stars Plain, and Stonyfield Farm Plain Cream Top.  All these brands have worked just fine.  I also have used the yogurt from our farmer.
  • Quart or Pint Jars, and lids. 
  • large-medium pot for warming milk
  • And  I recommend a candy or liquid thermometer  (one that starts at 100 degrees)
  • A funnel and a measuring cup/mug with handle can come in handy as well.

Instructions for Simple Yogurt:

  • Pour desired amount of milk for yogurt into saucepan. I usually do 2 quarts at a time.
  • Watching the thermometer, Warm Milk to no hotter than 125 degrees.  125 degrees will keep your yogurt strains mostly pure.   Warming it to 110 degrees will maintain most of the enymes  in the milk, keeping it "raw"  which is desireable as well, you will just need to replace your yogurt starter more frequently keeping the milk to the lower temperature.
         If the milk you are using is pasteurized, it's already been heated and any beneficial bacteria have been killed. I would recommend heating pasteurized milk to at least 125 degrees as this will kill any harmful bacteria that might contaminate the pasteurized milk.  (Yes, I said it, pasteurized milk is much more likely to be contaminated because there are no living good bacteria in there to keep it clean. If bad pathogens get in pasteurized milk, you don't stand a chance, if pathogens get in clean raw milk, the good bacteria in there actually overpower the bad ones and keep it safe- it's all biology, it's that way naturally to protect the calf). If you want to know more about why raw is better, I love this simple informative chart from organic pastures dairy in California
  • Cool the milk to 100-110 degrees and pour into jars. I recommend using a measuring cup or mug and a funnell, to pour the milk into the jars. This keeps things much more tidy.  I've spilled the milk allover before by trying to pour right into the jars- don't make that mistake or you'll be mopping the floor instead of making yogurt!
  • Once milk is in the jars, you will need to add 2 tablespoons of the previous batch of yogurt (or starter) to each of your jars. Make sure you leave room in your jars for the starter to be added. Mix it around with a wood spoon to make sure the starter is well incorporated.
  • Place lids on jars.  Then, this step is optional, wrap the jars in kitchen towels to keep the warmth in.

Place wrapped, or unwrapped jars into a warm oven. Leave the oven light on and let stand for 12 hours. Check your yogurt after this time. You may need to warm up the oven a bit and leave for 2-3 more hours.  Yogurt should thicken slightly, but depending on your start culture, will still remain a bit runny.  

Mine has thickened more once I put it in the fridge, if you'd like to thicken it more you can strain it through a cloth to make a greek style yogurt.
Enjoy in smoothies, with fruit, or as a yummy fruit dip! My toddler enjoys it when I mix in pureed strawberries and honey, and then she eats it with a spoon or uses it as a dip for apples!  As you can see in the photo, you can make your own "yogurt cups"  just use some small containers with lids and pre-make your grab and go yogurt cups!  This will save you a lot of money on those prepackaged yogurt cups and they are way healthier too!

How do you enjoy your yogurt?

This post is a part of the Monday Mania blog carnival.


LeAnn said...

I make yogurt weekly. I've done it on the counter by wraping the container in a towel and placing my heating pad over it. I recently got an oven with a dehydrator setting. I set the oven to 110 on the dehydrator setting and put the container in for 4 or 5 hours. Your recipe before that is the same as mine. I've just started trying to make yogurt cheese. My first batch needs some more salt and herbs but is good enough to be very encouraging.

Elizabeth said...

Wow yogurt cheese? I'd love to learn more about that!

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