We eat yogurt daily and store-bought yogurt tends to be both expensive and high in sugar. I had no idea how easy it is to make your own. I’ve found it kind of fun too – and I’m no cook, let me assure you, but I am a fan of saving money and learning new things. While making the first batch, I told my husband “I’m cooking up a pot of savings!”
A coworker motivated me to finally try it – she makes it every week. She gave me a high level overview of the process and gave me my first starter. We’ve made about 5 batches so far and it’s yummy and not that hard. My husband got into it too and has been making batches and improved the process by finding better tools for straining.
Then I also read up on it on the food blog of the Apartment therapy website, called the Kitchn: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-yogurt-at-home-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-125070.
Also this page was very helpful: http://www.fromscratchmag.com/make-homemade-yogurt-homemade-yogurt-recipe/.
In case you’re interested in trying it:
Milk, a pot, a whisk, glass containers with lids, a meat or candy thermometer, dish towels, and “starter”: yogurt with active cultures, about 1/3 cup. You can use plain yogurt with active cultures from the store and once you start making yogurt you will save some of it as a starter. It must have active cultures and should be plain (non-flavored). Either “Greek style” or regular yogurt is fine.
Optional: a strainer, cheesecloth, a bowl to strain whey into.
- Heat about one half-gallon of milk in a pot – we use 1% Oakhurst milk. Use the thermometer to monitor it until it reaches 180 degrees.
- Turn off the heat and let the pot cool down to 120 degrees. When it reaches about 120, whisk in all of the starter.
- Pour the milk + starter mixture into glass containers such as canning jars – we like the Ball wide-mouth jars with the screw-on white plastic tops. It will fill about 4 of those jars.
- Let the containers sit for at least 4-6 hours at around 100 degrees. We achieve that temperature by wrapping each jar in 2 dish towels and putting all of the jars together into a zippered insulated cooler. The longer you let it sit, the thicker it becomes but also the more tart it will get – so this part is all about your own preferences.
- After it sits 4-6 or more hrs, stir. At this point, since we like Greek-style thicker yogurt, we strain some of the whey out. My coworker doesn’t strain it and just has to restir it when she eats it because the whey will separate from the rest of the yogurt a bit.
- For the Greek-style yogurt, strain whey with something like cheesecloth or a thin tea towel, over a strainer or chinois, into a bowl or directly into the glass container if possible. This is the only step that is a pain and can get messy. (Can cause some muttering, too, if you, say, have to clean 2 cups of spilled yogurt from under the microwave). After some experimenting, we’ve started using washable jelly strainer bags – I think these – http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-615-Jelly-Strainer-Piece/dp/B001FBEHFC – and a chinois – something like this http://www.amazon.com/8-Inch-Depth-Chinoise-Strainer-Stainless/dp/B000J3ZYCC. This is less messy and we don’t end up with towels that frankly stank like the old post-feeding baby bibs did, especially in warm weather.
- I recommend saving the whey in the fridge – it is filled with protein and good for smoothies.
- Refrigerate the yogurt – best to do so overnight. Save some of the new batch in a small container to be your starter for the next batch.
- Do you need to “refresh” the starter over time? Not sure. We need to research this. My husband did notice that the 3 biggest yogurt brands with active cultures had a slightly different list of cultures. So is it optimal to alternate among brands to get a wider spectrum of cultures? Should you add some sort of culture “boost” from the health food store? I do not know the answers nor have I had a chance to research them. But if I do, I’ll share it here (or if you know, please comment below!) That’s another fun part of DIY, isn’t it – learning all these details about something you didn’t know squat about, like, a month ago.
When I pour it out to eat, I add a little maple syrup and strawberries or raspberries, and for texture I add Grape Nuts or Kashi 7 grain puff cereal. Sometimes I also add a bit of Goya canned coconut milk. We also use it plain in place of sour cream with tuna, chicken salad, in smoothies, and on quesadillas / burritos / nachos. I also mix it with salsa and add ground chipotle powder for tortilla chip dip.
So far we have shared the homemade yogurt with my parents who liked it a lot and used it in smoothies and with tuna.
Do you love yogurt too? What do you use yogurt in? Do you make your own? If not, would you ever consider it? Tell me, I must know, as I’m now an official Yogurtista (a term we coined while high on active cultures).