Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Homemade Yogurt

I love yogurt with fruit on the bottom. I love whipped yogurt. I love Stoneyfield yogurt with the cream on the top. Smoothies are great and need yogurt. Yum yum yum. But store bought yogurt is expensive and my goal is to help both you and me go organic cheaply.

I began making yogurt when Mr. Smackdown was 9 months old. I was already making my own babyfood and knew there must be a way to encourage happy bacteria to grow in my kitchen. Afterall, when we lived in India, our stomaches would beg for the clay pots of yogurt sitting on countertops near our favorite place to get sick, I mean, eat. If yogurt can be made beside a road in India, it can be made in my home.

Grab a stool and bucket and go milk your cow! Or use some milk that is in your refridgerator. There are two ways to make yogurt. You can use a powder or purchase some plain whole milk yogurt at the grocery store. I go the easy route, and typically use Stoneyfield yogurt. Technically, you never have to buy yogurt again! However, that is as long as you save approximately 2 tablespoons from previous batch of yogurt.

Let's get started. I fill a quart mason jar until it is about one inch below the top. You can leave the milk in the jar and place it in a pot filled with water, in a warm oven for anywhere from 30-40 minutes depending on the temperature setting, or dump the milk into a stainless steal pot. However you choose to warm the milk, heat it to a temperature of 180 degrees. Now, if you do not have a kitchen thermometer, you can guestimate that the milk is 180 when it starts to have little foamy bubbles at the edges of the pan.

Meanwhile, fill a custard cup with plain yogurt. (I think that whole milk and whole milk yogurt work the best for homemade yogurt.)This equates to 2-4 tablespoons. It really does not have
to be an exact science, as I have discovered over the past four years.

Once my milk has reached 180 degrees, I pour it back into the quart mason jar and let the milk cool until it is between 112-120 degrees. At the same time, I allow the yogurt to warm to room temperature, and no the lack of refridergeration won't kill you.

Since my dog destroyed the thermometer shown in the pictures in an attempt to eat the yogurt starter, I wait about an hour or so and see if I can easily wrap my hands around the jar and keep them on the jar for a few seconds. You can speed the cooling process up by sticking your jar in the fridge, but I often forget about it when i do that and my yogurt takes longer to make.

Once the milk is ready, I carefully pour a littlebit of milk into my yogurt starter to blend the yogurt into the liquid milk. Stir it up and add the starter and milk to the mason jar.

Once again, you have a few options as to the location of your fermentation. I used to warm my oven, shut it off and stick the soupy milk into the oven for about 4 hours. However, I would often preheat the oven for dinner and completely destroy the batch of yogurt. After this happening one too many times, I typically wrap up my mason jar and stick her in the microwave with a towel around the far and the lid loosely on. I have found that the milk stayes warm enough to quicly ferment and give us great tasting yogurt.

In approximately 4 hours of sitting, while you are busy accomplishing grand things either in our home or in the loser curiser (a.k.a. minivan), you are conveintly growing good bacteria to aid in digestion, help boost your immune system, and saving money!

Now, don't stress out if you see a yellow liquid form at the top of your yogurt. This is called whey. You can mix the whey back into the yogurt when you dish some out for yourself, or use it to make saurkraut, soak your oats, or other healthy stuff. Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions!

The finished product:

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I also make yogurt but I incubate for 6-8 hours, the longer it is incubated the tarter the yogurt. Also some other ideas, you can use a glass mayo jar to put the milk in and put that in a pot full of water, heat the water until the milk is sterlized (less dishes to clean). You can also incubate in a cooler, just put use the hot water from the pot to keep the yogurt warm. Basically just keep the yougurt warm so the cultures work. It is very easy and very delicious.

Melissa said...

Thanks for your tutorial, here... I'm gonna try your method with our older cow share milk and try it out... I'm also going to try your ketchup recipe, as we're trying to eat better and the kids eat a lot of ketchup. Thank you for sharing with us all! We're trying to be more self-sufficient and find that though it's perhaps more time consuming, it can provide a lot of intentionality in our lives, which is always good for us Christians.