Friday, April 8, 2011

Home-Made Yogurt Recipe/Directions

Making home-made yogurt...

Supplies needed:
  • Milk (1/2-1 Gallon)
  • 2-4 Tbsp. yogurt starter such as Dannon Plain, Stoneyfield Plain, Fage Plain
  • Cooking thermometer
  • Spoon
  • Stock pot w/lid
  • Heating Pad
  • Towel
  • Stove
  • Empty Sink

Step One is to heat your milk in the stock pot to 180-185F. Heat slowly on medium heat and stir often. You will notice the milk becoming a little frothy on top when it is getting close (you can see it in the picture). It takes about 15 minutes. However, check often with your thermometer until you get more comfortable with the process.

Step Two is to cool your milk in the stock pot to 110F. I put water with some ice cubes in my kitchen sink to roughly the same level of the milk in the pot. You can release some of the water if you notice your pot floating. Stir frequently and check often with your thermometer. Once you hit 110F, remove from ice bath and move to step 3.

Step Three is to culture your milk and tuck it away to ferment. I use ~2 Tbsp. of yogurt starter for 1/2 gallon and ~4 Tbsp. of yogurt starter for 1 gallon of milk and I let my starter sit out while I am cooking the milk to allow it to get to room temperature. I gently whisk/stir the starter into the pot to ensure an even distribution of the starter. Then I cover the pot with it's lid and I place the pot onto a heating pad set to medium. To keep it nice and warm I tuck the edges of the heating pad up against the side of the pot, like it's hugging the pot and fold over a towel and tuck it under the pad's edges.

Step Four is leave it to ferment for 12-24 hours. I will typically make my yogurt late afternoon/early evening and I will disturb it late morning the next day. Keep warm and do not stir or disturb. It must sit quietly for the helpful bacteria to culture and do what it needs to do to turn your milk into yogurt. The helpful bacteria consume the sugar found in milk, called lactose, and in result you get lactic acid. Lactic acid is the by-product that is responsable for the tangy flavor and for preserving the milk from spoiling during the process.

Step Five is to break the seal :). Take off the lid and stir. Stiring the yogurt at this point disrupts the chemistry that is taking place in the pot.

I then strain my yogurt to get a thicker consistency. If you don't strain it, it will be a drinkable yogurt consistency. I use another pot and I place a strainer lined with cheese cloth on top, I then dump my yogurt into the strainer. Very quickly the liquid will start to strain through. This liquid contains the whey. Removing the whey not only thickens your yogurt but removes a great deal of the sugar carbs that come from the whey. Most of the sugar that comes from the lactose should  be eaten up during the fermentation process. The longer (up to 24 hours and no longer though) you ferment, the more lactose you remove from the final product. The longer you strain, the more whey you remove from the final product. I usually strain my yogurt for about 1/2 hour, scraping the bottom of the cheese cloth to keep it circulating. You can strain for up to 24 hrs. depending on what consistency you are looking for. Think no strain: drinkable yogurt; 30-60 min.strain: regular yogurt to Greek yogurt consistency; 6-8 hr. strain: thick sour cream; 12-24 hrs. strain: cream cheese consistency.

Step Six is to jar it up and store it. I use glass storage with snap seal lids but use what you have on hand until you can get a better system for storage. Then place the containers in the back of fridge and let it sit for 12-24 hrs. to chill and thicken to final stage of eating.

Step Seven is to EAT and ENJOY! I love mine plain. We also enjoy it mixed with honey, unsweetened applesauce, fresh fruit, all-natural jam. I have also added herbs to make a veggie dip. The list is endless on how you can enjoy home-made yogurt.

Step Eight is to start over and make some more! Reserve the amount you need for a starter and make a new batch once you're ready for more.

Just a note: I used 2% the first round but since then have used Whole so I can get a thicker consistency. I do not add solid milk products...some people do to thicken (commercial yogurt definitely adds solids and pectins)...solid milk products add too much lactose and changes the pH of the yogurt which can impact the quality of your probiotics.

1/2 gallon with 30 minute strain yields about 48 oz. of yogurt.

You can also use soy milk, coconut milk, sheep's milk, goat's milk. You will need to purchase yogurt starter packets if using cow's milk alternatives.

Lastly, my yogurt has always come out quite tasty but don't forget that sometimes things can just happen and not come out as planned. Don't give up...just try again!

Look of yogurt after 7 hours of fermentation. Thick gelatin like layer on top, a little bubbly, and a yummy, tangy cheesy odor! :D
Enjoy!!! You can safely consume up to 3 cups of home-made yogurt a day. A great natural probiotic which helps keep your immunity strong and healthy AND a great protein source. Let me know if you have any questions and keep me posted on how your yogurt comes out!

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