Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Making yogurt again

Over the last few weeks I've once again started making yogurt at home.  I started making yogurt two years ago when we joined a food co-op and were getting fresh milk (pasteurized but not homogenized) and eggs.  We don't drink milk though and I didn't want it to go to waste so I learned to make yogurt.   Nowadays, I just realize how much cheaper it is to make my own yogurt and on top of that, I'm not thrilled with all the sugar and additives to be found in commercially made yogurt.  Not to mention that there's no guarantee that the "live active cultures" are still live and active by the time you bring that yogurt home.

Making yogurt is so simple as to be ridiculous.  There are tons of multi-step, complex yogurt making instructions to be found online but really it's an ancient, basic process once you understand what's going on with the bacteria.  The whole point is not to kill the bacteria but to create a situation where the bacteria multiplies. My Syrian friend in graduate school regularly made yogurt and didn't even use a thermometer.  She would just almost boil the milk and used  her (clean) pinky finger to test the temperature.  Her rule was if you could keep your finger in the milk comfortably for 10 seconds, it was cool enough to add your starter yogurt.  Then, stick the mixture in your oven to set.

Here's my simple step-by-step process:
  1. You need (very) clean pots, jars and utensils.  Anything that touches the milk/yogurt should be clean.  You can sterilize everything but that's not really necessary.  Just wash with soap and some good, hot water.  
  2. Heat a half-gallon of milk till it almost boils (about 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit).
  3. Let it cool to about 120 degrees Fahreneheit.  You can speed this up by sitting your pot in an ice bath.
  4. Add a cup and a quarter cup of plain yogurt (either some you bought or some you saved from you last batch) to your cooled milk and mix well.  
  5. Incubate in a warm place for 5+ hours.  I use a cooler that I fill with warm water (about 120 degrees Fahrenheit).  Make sure the water only comes to the neck of the jar, i.e. don't cover the jar with water.
  6. Remove from the cooler (or wherever you've been incubating) and let it set in fridge.  

That's it.  You have wonderful, freshly homemade yogurt that you know is chock full of live active cultures.  

The process for making soy yogurt is similar but you really need a good thickening agent or else you get like a soy kefir.   

Photo Credit:  "IMG_3101" by justinhenry on Flickr.com


Hagar's Daughter said...

Hi Chi Chi,

I've missed reading your blog and as I try to catch up I see you're still working diligently taking care of your family. Wonderful.

Congrats on your weight loss.

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jeanie said...

I use to make yogurt when my oldest were small, 25 years ago. I loved it. I would add mashed bananas and let it sit in frig overnight so the natural sugar from the bananas would sweeten the yogurt. No sugar is needed when you do this. I would use non-fat powdered milk. Bob's Red Mills makes a healthy version.
I love that you use cloth diapers. Isn't it so nice knowing the natural cotton is next to their skin.
Love your blog.

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