(Within the post, when I say “yogurt” I’m talking about the plain, unsweetened stuff that contains L. acidophilus.)
During my longer period of illness (post on that coming later), one of the recommended things to help fight it was a daily intake of yogurt.* At first I bought the plain, unsweetened stuff from the store, but when it looked like I might be eating a cup or more a day for a while, I decided to pursue making my own. Yogurt is expensive!
I first made a small batch to test the recipe I found, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was! Also how yummy. I’ll never buy from a store again if I can help it!
(pictured here with roasted pecans, chopped fresh cherries, and a drizzle of maple syrup)
- 2 quarts milk (I like whole cow milk, but you can use any kind of cow, goat, or sheep milk. I do not know about soy, almond, or other sorts.)
- 2-3 Tablespoons plain, unsweetened yogurt (I like the Nancy’s brand, but any brand will work so long as it contains the live cultures.)
1) In a medium sized stock pot, heat the milk to 180° F. If you don’t have a cooking thermometer, there should be a skin on top and bubbles.
2) Remove the pot from heat and allow to cool to 120° F. If you don’t have a cooking thermometer, it’s close enough if you can touch it.
3) Remove about 1 cup of milk to a small bowl and gently swirl in the yogurt.
4) Using a fine mesh strainer, pour remaining milk into clean jars. I think any sort of glass container or bowl will work, but I don’t have personal experience with that.
5) Divide the yogurt mixture evenly between the jars. Chunks are good. That’s the yogurt growing.
6) Cover jars securely. Place them in an ice chest with 2-3 quarts of hot water. Leave 6-8 hours. Refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours before using. For best flavor use within 10 days, but make sure you save a few tablespoons of it if you plan to make more!
To make it Greek Yogurt:
1) Line a colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth or a thin kitchen towel. Place the colander in a bowl. One or two inches of space between the bottom of the colander and the bowl is ideal.
2) Spoon refrigerated yogurt into the colander, then close up the cheesecloth or towel using a twist tie or rubber band.
3) Place bowl in the refrigerator and let sit for 1 hour. Discard the whey in the bowl and return the bowl to the fridge for another hour. Discard the whey again.
4) Check your yogurt consistency. It should be similar to sour cream. If you want it thicker, return it to the fridge until the consistency is where you want it.
5) Scrape yogurt into a plastic storage container and refrigerate until ready to use. For best results, consume within 10 days.
– The longer the yogurt sits in the ice chest developing, the more sour the end product will be.
– If the yogurt is watery after refrigerating, this means you added too much of the live culture and/ or you let it sit too long in the ice chest. Try reducing the amount of yogurt you introduce by one tablespoon or reduce the time in the ice chest.
– Discarding the whey reduces mass, so by the end of the draining process the yogurt could be reduced by up to a third. Greek yogurt is thicker, creamier, and milder in flavor.
– I’ve read about people making yogurt in their oven, but I haven’t done that so I can’t offer any help there. 🙂
*I assumed while writing this that it’s common knowledge that the body is full of “good” bacteria. As an afterthought I decided to include this note on the off chance there’s someone reading who doesn’t know. Antibiotics kill all bacteria, good and bad. Probiotics (of which yogurt is one) helps to maintain a bacterial balance in the body. It replenishes the good bacterial and discourages the bad. The bacteria in yogurt is transient, meaning it stays in the system for a few days, and then leaves. This is why if you’re eating yogurt specifically to boost your system, fight an infection, or maintain a balance, it’s best to eat it daily.