Monday, September 8, 2014

Making Yogurt

I'm kind of fussy when it comes to yogurt. I like a few of the brands out there, but more often than not I find most commercial yogurts to be thin and overly sugared. Perhaps worst of all, I'm seeing more and more brands of yogurt with so-called "added fiber" in the form of inulin (a.k.a chicory root extract, or fructoogliosaccharides) on their ingredients list, which I'm totally intolerant of. Between that, and all of the preservatives... well, I'll just pass, thanks.

Besides, it's really easy to make yogurt at home. I have this little 1 quart yogurt maker that I bought a few years back, and I love it. I think calling them "yogurt makers" is sort of a misnomer, but yogurt incubator just sounds weird, I guess. That's all it does, though: keeps the temperature at a cozy 110F or so, which is perfect for the bacteria to work their magic.

The recipe I use is equally simple:

  • 1 Quart Whole Milk (1/4 cup set aside to thin starter yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt. I use a Greek-style yogurt with as many different kinds of live cultures as I can find. (Zoi, Oikos and Fage are all ones I've tried, with success.)
  • 2 Tablespoons powdered milk. This is not necessary, but I use it to boost the protein and make a thicker yogurt. Feel free to use or omit, as you choose.
First, I take the milk and powdered milk, and stir them together in a saucepan over medium heat. My goal is to bring the milk up to a low boil, without scorching it. Once it starts boiling, I take it off the heat and set the pot aside, so it cools back down to somewhere between room temperature and 110F.

While that's heating up, I like to pour the reserved 1/4 cup of milk into a small measuring cup, and add the 1/2 cup of yogurt, stirring gently until well blended. I try to get rid of as many yogurt lumps as possible, so that it's evenly distributed throughout the batch when all is said and done. I also prefer to get this done as early in the process as I can, so that the yogurt starts coming up to room temperature. In my mind, the bacteria needs to wake up from their refrigerator-induced slumber and could use the head start. I may just be projecting, though... not being a morning person, and all.  

Once the milk has cooled, I add in the thinned yogurt. If the milk is still on the warm side, I'll temper it by adding some of the warm milk to the thinned yogurt first, much like you'd do making an egg custard. It brings them closer to temperature, without shocking the thinned yogurt with an abrupt change in temp. Once everything is combined and smooth, I fill the jars per the manufacturer's instructions and put them in the maker. I leave the jar lids off but put the machine lid on, and set the timer for 12 hours. Once the 12 hours is up, the jars come out, lids go on, and into the fridge they go for about 3- 4 hours to stop the culturing process. 

Once chilled, they're ready to eat. I like mine over some granola with honey or maple syrup for a little sweetness. If you prefer fruit yogurts, just add a dollop of your favorite jam right before eating. No preservatives, nothing you can't pronounce... just happy, yogurt-y goodness!

(Want more info on making yogurt at home? Check out this page over at Cultures For Health! They have a TON of information on all sorts of cultured foods.)

What's your favorite way to eat yogurt?

PS: This post has been shared on the Homestead Blog Hop. Click  the link to see more like-minded posts from around the web!

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