I made a batch of yogurt tonight and I wish to share it with you. Well, actually, I started a batch of yogurt tonight and the healthy bacteria will be hard at work all night long finishing the job. While I sleep. I like it.
When my firstborn was a baby, there was much discussion about when to start solids and what foods were good and that is when I began in earnest to put lots of thought into our food at home. A good friend, whose child is a year and a half older, taught me how easy it is to make homemade yogurt. And Super Baby Food fed right into that.
Then I began to dislike buying and throwing away (even into the recycle bin) the plastic yogurt container every week. It didn’t seem right to purport good food for my kid and contribute so much pollution to the world at the same time. So I started making yogurt and you know what? It’s really easy and fits into the busy week here pretty well.
There is a nice discusion, including comparison charts of yogurt, kefir, sour cream, etc. on Wikipedia under fermented milk products. Fermented foods have been around for centuries as ways of keeping foods longer and there are certainly health benefits to this. I am also a big fan of kefir, which has its own interesting history and several websites devoted to it! It seems there is even a National Yogurt Association which I don’t know anything about, but if Dr. Sears likes them, they can’t be all bad.
I’ve recently discovered home cheesemaking and read Ricki Carroll’s book cover to cover. Check out the website for more ideas, where to get supplies and the blog.
Glass jar, wide neck, preferably heat resistant (I like 24 to 32 oz size), with a screw top
Cooking thermometer that reaches at least 190F and has a clip
Milk, enough to fill the jar
Yogurt culture – can be purchased dry or take a spoonful (2 tablespoons) from a plain store yogurt
Dry milk powder, optional (this thickens the yogurt and adds protein)
A pot that will fit your glass jar and allow water to come most of the way up the neck
A place to keep the yogurt at a constant temperature of about 105F for 6 – 10 hours
To make sure everything is spiffy clean, I sterilize it first: put the thermometer and your stirring spoon into the jar and fill with boiling water; let sit 5 minutes then empty the water into your pot. Fill the jar to within an inch from the top with milk. Put the thermometer in, clipped to the side and put the jar into the pot. Fill the pot with water up to the neck of the jar. Heat over medium heat until the milk reaches 185F, stirring to mix the cooler top milk with the bottom.
Once the milk reaches 185, remove it from the water bath and set to cool somewhere, thermometer still in place. If using some other yogurt as your culture starter, take it out of the fridge now to bring to room temperature. Stir the milk occasionally until the milk has cooled to about 105 -110 F. Then add the culture to the jar of milk. If you wish to add some milk powder, mix a tablespoon or 3 with the yogurt culture starter and then add it to the milk.
Place cover on the jar and put it in a warm place, about 100F works well. Wrap in a towel to keep warm if needed. I use my oven – with just the light on inside, it holds a temp of about 100F. Sometimes a pilot light keeps a gas oven warm like this. There are also electric yogurt makers that maintain the temperature. I let it sit 8 to 12 hours (overnight) and then, voila!, it’s yogurt. Remove your next culture starter before doing anything else and put in a separate container in the fridge. Then taste it. Yum. Goes great with granola… another post idea!