Saturday, October 15, 2011

Homemade Yogurt

I can't eat yogurt from the store. It has pectin (a plant-based thickener...and laxative) in it as well as artificial sweeteners that I get bloat from like sorbitol or sucralose (Splenda) or other sugar alcohols.* Plus, modern yogurt isn't cultured nearly as long as the old days. They make it more mild and add pectin to keep the whey from separating and make it artificially thicker. I want the whey gone out of my yogurt as the whey has most of the lactose in it and I'm pretty sure it bothers me. I love yogurt and used to make my own back when I had milk goats way back when. That yogurt never bothered me. It had nothing in it but milk and yogurt starter.
* I did find Foge brand yogurt that is just milk and yogurt culture but it was too expensive for me to buy regularly.

So I bought a yogurt maker. I ordered it from and I've had it almost 4 days now. I've made and eaten batch after batch of yogurt using 2% milk and then I bought some instant nonfat dry milk and made some from that. You almost can't tell the difference between the 2% and the instant. I make mine to incubate about 10 hours. I tried one 14 hours and it was very tart, edible but needed more nutrasweet than the other batches. Any less and I'm worried the lactose hasn't been broken down.

I strained it in cheese cloth (not the kind you get at Lowes but the kind you can find at Bed,Bath and Beyond in a small package by the kitchen timers) for a couple of hours and it becomes Greek yogurt. Nice and thick and most of the lactose is gone out of it when the whey was strained off. I beat it with a fork just before I eat it to fluff it up a bit. It has a cream cheese texture and taste after I add some nutrasweet. Just like having a cheese cake dessert. And the best part is I have no reaction at all to eating this homemade yogurt. No bloat, no stomach pain, unlike the store-bought yogurt.

There are lots of websites out there that teach you how to make your own yogurt even without a yogurt maker. They'll have great photos, etc. Google it or search YouTube.  But all you need is:

  1. Milk, (quart, half gallon or whatever) heated to 180 degrees, then cooled to 110 degrees (temps are important. Too hot and you kill the yogurt culture.)
  2. You have to have yogurt starter.  Buy a small plain yogurt from the store that has live, active culture. Add a couple of tablespoons to the 110 degree milk and mix well.
  3. Pour milk into container(s.)
  4. Wrap jars or containers of the warm mixture in towels to keep them warm. 
  5. Put them in an ice chest and fill any empty spaces with jugs of hot water and put the lid on to keep the heat in. Let it set in a draft-free room for 6 to 8 hours. You don't want the temp to be over 110 degrees or under 90 degrees when incubating. Don't disturb it when incubating as movement can keep it from setting properly. Just relax, it's turning into yogurt.
  6. When done you can gently place yogurt into a colander lined with  cheese cloth or coffee filters to drain the whey off. If you like the whey, just refrigerate your jars and enjoy with fruit or honey.
  7. Before adding anything, take a couple of tablespoons out and freeze it for your starter of your next batch so you don't have to buy any more yogurt to use as the starter.
  8. If it didn't set or turn into yogurt, the mixture was probably kept too hot or too cool and/or the starter culture wasn't live and active.

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