Making delicious probiotic yogurt in the comfort of your home isn’t complicated as one may think. Firstly, you need some milk! Any type of milk will work when making yogurt or kefir, but some are better too. A higher fat content will result in thicker yogurt. If you can, go for a variety that is not UHT (ultra high temperature) processed to have a longer shelf life.
Be sure to use whole milk for a creamier, thicker texture, or if available, raw milk makes the yogurt even creamier and more healthful. Pasteurized milk and even nondairy milk such milks form hemp, soy, almond and coconut milk can be used too to make delicious homemade yogurt!
There are 2 basic ways you can chose to inoculate with living bacteria your milk, you can buy commercial plain yogurt that contain live ferments, or use whey.
Whey is the watery liquid remaining after curds have formed in cultured dairy or cheese. Use fresh whey from drained plain European-style yogurt, milk kefir, or other cultured dairy product that has not been heated over 110°F (40°C ) for best results.
You’ll need some basic equipment, such as a colander, some cheesecloth, and a bowl to get you started. Line a colander with cheesecloth and place it in a large glass bowl. Pour the yogurt/kefir/dairy product into the cheesecloth. Let it drip for a few hours, then tie up the ends of the cheesecloth. Continue letting the whey drip out into the bowl, set out on the counter overnight and finally pour the whey into a clean glass jar to be kept in the refrigerator for up to several weeks.
TEST THE YOGURT FOR LIFE
Many commercially sold products claim to contain living bacteria cultures, you can easily test for yourself by mixing one tablespoon (15 g) of yogurt with 1 cup (240 ml) of heated milk, leaving it overnight in a warm place. If the mixture has thickened by morning, there are indeed live cultures present in the yogurt you have bought, and you can successfully use it to make your own yogurt.
LET’S MAKE YOGURT
To make yogurt, simply add 2 to 3 tablespoons of whey or store-bought plain yogurt to half liter of milk. If you go for the store bought yogurt as starter, make sure the yogurt label clearly says that the product contains “live active cultures”.
Homemade yogurt contains more beneficial probiotics, taste better and doesn’t have the added sugar or chemicals, nor produce the packaging waste. What else? Right, yogurt is not only cheaper and simple to make, doesn’t requires any special equipment, except for a thermometer to ensure the temperature stays around 100°F during the process to encourage bacterial growth.
Making your own yogurt is super simple, especially with a yogurt incubator (or yogurt maker), that can definitely speed up the process. Its not necessary because yogurt can be made without, but if you are actually begin to do it often, the money spent is worth in the long run.
For more on making your own yogurt, see the RECIPE BELOW:
- One 1-quart glass jar with a lid
- Hand towel
- 4 cups of milk
- ¼ cup store-bought plain yogurt with active cultures or whey
- Sterilize the 1-quart jar by boiling it in water
- Heat the milk to 180°F (82°C). Remove from the heat and allow to cool until it reaches the temperature about 105°F. Add the yogurt starter and mix well
- Transfer the mixture to the sterilized jar and cover
- Wrap the jar of yogurt in a hand towel and tie with a string to secure; this will help maintain a temperature of 110°F, which is the culturing temperature zone.
- Allow the yogurt to sit for 6 to 12 hours for the yogurt to thicken. Once the curd forms and the mixture has thickened, refrigerate the yogurt overnights to let the mixture set
- Serve or store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Stir before consume
KEEP THE RIGHT TEMPERATURE
There are many ways you can keep your milk in the right temperature zone to culture without a yogurt incubator, with a little bit of creativity.
You can place your wrapped jar on a heating pad, and then cover again with another towel. An other option is to fill your slow cooker with enough water to mostly cover your jar; then heat the water to stay around 105° to promote microorganism grow. Reached the temperature you can turn off the cooker, but this method requires you to check the temperature periodically, and eventually turn back the heat back to keep the environment warm enough.
Using a yogurt maker allows for the most consistency and ease when making yogurt and takes the work out of maintaining the proper temperature. There are a variety of yogurt maker options available at a range of price points.