June 20, 2011

Homemade Yogurt

Now for something homemade AND yummy! This is another favorite of mine. I stumbled upon homemade yogurt while looking for jams and jellies for the season. My wheels starting turning and I decided that I wanted to give this whole yogurt thing a shot. The benefits of making your own yogurt are:
·         Cost effective – By using the 7th jar of yogurt as your “starter”, you end up using 42oz of the gallon of milk you buy for you family each week anyway, so it’s drops your yogurt cost exponentially!
·         You know what’s in it! – You choose all the ingredients that go into it and know that there are no preservatives in it.
·         Eco-friendly – No more throwing away container after plastic container!
 I researched different methods and recipes and decided on purchasing a yogurt maker and sticking with a simple vanilla recipe that can be made as sweet or as tart as you like. There are several methods to making homemade yogurt, but I chose the yogurt maker, because in the end it is most cost efficient (especially if your wonderful parents give it to you as an anniversary gift) and it is actually the easiest method. You can also make yogurt in a crock-pot or using an old glass bowl/towel method that requires the light of your oven.
The yogurt maker I chose to use was the Euro Cuisine YM80. It can be found on Amazon for around $30.00. The yogurt maker comes with 7 – 6oz glass jars with lids that can be used time and time again. You can also purchase the next step up, YM100. It has an automatic shut off on it so you don’t have to keep up with what time you started the yogurt. I chose to simply use my oven timer.

Okay, here’s the yogurt recipe I modified to mine and Hubby’s liking!
Homemade Vanilla Yogurt
42oz milk – this can be whole milk or 2%
1 – 6oz cup of plain organic yogurt – to get you started. Make sure you get the yogurt with active cultures.
3 Tbsp vanilla extract
½ cup agave nectar
½ cup honey (be mindful of this ingredient if you have children under a year old)

1. Set 6oz of yogurt starter out to come to room temperature.
2. Bring the milk to a boil, do not stir as the bottom will scorch and you don’t want the scorched milk mixing in with the good milk. Bring it to a boil (as it starts climbing up the side of the pot). Pull the pot off the eye and let the milk temperature drop to 95-100F. Letting it get to this temperature is very important. I use a candy thermometer to test the temperature. To speed up the process, you may drop the pot in an ice water bath. Otherwise, it will take about 30 minutes for the temperature to drop to proper 95-100F.
2. Mix your agave, honey, and vanilla extract together and pour into the heated milk. Whisk this together well.
3. Add in your 6oz jar of yogurt and whisk well.
4. Pour this mixture into a pitcher (for easy pouring into jars.)
5. Pour the mixture into each of the seven glass jars and place jars (without lids) into the yogurt maker.
6. Place lid on yogurt maker and turn on for 12 hours. 12 hours is the perfect time to bring the yogurt to the thickness that most yogurts we in America are used to. You may let it “incubate” for only 10 hours if you prefer the thinner, Kefir-style yogurt. Also, for a thicker “greek-style” yogurt, you can leave the yogurt in the incubator for 14 hours.
7. Once the timer goes off, lift lid slowly off the yogurt maker (being sure not to let the condensation drip into the yogurt from the lid.) Twist the white lids onto the glass jars and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before eating.
Note: The longer the yogurt remains in the incubator, the more tart it will become, as yogurt is a sour milk product.
There are a number of things you can mix with the yogurt to make it a great and filling breakfast:
·         Fresh fruits
·         Jams and jellies
·         Granola (we enjoy this the most!)
·         Blackstrap molasses
·         Finely chopped nuts and veggies
·         Cinnamon or nutmeg
So go out there and try your very own homemade yogurt! I’d love to hear what you come up with!

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