Friday, April 1, 2011

Homemade Yogurt

      This weeks self imposed challenge has been, learning to make homemade yogurt. I know there are three groups of thought on this one: (1) Come on, "learning", yogurt is soo easy. (2) Why? It comes in perfectly good little pots from the store. (3) Yogurt?!? Eeeew Gross!
      First off, my family eats a crazy amount of yogurt. I buy several large 2lb. tubs a week. We don't do snack foods, puddings or junk foods, but we do "do" a lot of yogurt. Yogurt is very versatile and can be turned from a breakfast food to a dessert smoothie, to any stop in between in just a few minutes. While I can get the large plain tubs in organic, I have to flavor them myself or settle for the non-organic little single-serving tubs which I am sure are full of rBGH/rBST, not to mention the other ingredients which are just not needed.
     Secondly, I used to get quarts of wonderful homemade yogurt, as a gift, from my Amish neighbor Lizzie Stoltzfus and I can tell you the store bought kind, like most things can not compare to homemade. Besides, what kind a Food Renegade would I be if I didn't reclaim this bit of domesticity for my family and myself. 
      The making of homemade yogurt is so simple, especially compared with the making of cheese, I am a bit embarrassed that I have just now learned how to do it. It really is just a few simple steps that even my kids could follow.

Heating milk

     Step 1      Heat a quart of milk to 180* or boiling, careful not to scorch it. you know it's hot enough when it starts bubbling and climbing the sides of the pan. This step ensures that you only grow "safe" bacteria in your yogurt.

      Step 2      Let milk cool down to 112*, if you don't have a thermometer, this is when you can stick a finger in and keep it in for 10 seconds with out it burning, it will feel very warm.

      Step 3      Whisk in 5g. of freeze dried yogurt starter or 3 tbsp. Organic live-culture plain yogurt.  Directly after this step is also the time to add any other ingredients that you would like: 1/3 cup of milk powder for firmer yogurt or 1/3 cup of a natural sweetener like: agave nectar, simple syrup, honey, maple syrup. You can also add a flavoring at this time.


      Step 4      Incubation period : choose whatever heat proof jars you would like, making sure they are super-clean, and fill them leaving a bit of head space at the top. Place them where they can incubate in the correct temperature undisturbed for 8-10 hours. The correct temp is above 90* ( which is cold to grow the culture) and 120* (which will kill the culture) Just right is 112*. In the video below, they show how to use your oven. I used this little machine, the Euro-Cuisine-Automatic-Yogurt-Maker 

      Step 5      After the Incubation time, the yogurt must be chilled in the refrigerator for about 3 hours.

Booger, my oldest

     That's it, all done,  Yogurt!

Raspberry yogurt

      We made a simple Raspberry syrup for ours and it didn't last very long at all!

  Here's a video, showing how you can do this at home without any special equipment.