Monday, April 26, 2010

Homemade Yogurt

I want to start posting about the GPRx book and the 7 keys, but some friends and family have gotten me too excited about my homemade yogurt.  Actually this does fit well with the first key which is Eat to Live. 

Kai has always had organic whole milk.  I read that one of the most important organic switches that you can make is dairy.  So one of the very first things I did is decide to buy organic milk for our family.  No, I don't forbid Kai from getting a kids meal with regular milk at Chik Fil A but I have been known to bring my own ;)

I figured if I am buying organic milk that I would also buy organic yogurt for myself and the kids (Lee won't touch it of any kind).  I started seeing all of these recipes for yogurt in the nutritional cookbooks that I was reading.  It was in the Nourishing Traditions book that Jordan Rubin refers to often, and it was in the Super Baby Food book by Ruth Yaron that I used to make a lot of baby food.  My sister in law also told me how easy it was so I figured it had to be worth a shot.  Lee was convinced as long as it would save him us money.  He even bought me a yogurt maker heater because he read it was a good, safe option with kids around.

Here is my recipe, which is a combination from about 3 sources:
4 cups organic, nonhomogenized, low pasteurized milk (if possible)
1/2 cup good quality commercial plain yogurt or from previous batch

Gently heat the milk to 180 degrees (right below the boiling point).  A candy thermometer would be helpful.  I bought a meat thermometer by mistake, which did not work for this purpose.  Now I just listen for the milk to start to hiss and steam.  Stir constantly to keep from scalding.  Cool to about 110 degrees.  Again, without a thermometer this is just long enough to put your finger in and count to 10 without burning.  Stir in yogurt and place in glass, enamel, or stainless steel container.  Cover and keep at 90 degrees for approximately 7 hours.  Refrigerate.

Don't whisk the yogurt into the milk.  It can disrupt it.  You can add a little bit of the warm milk to the yogurt to dissolve better before adding to the rest of the milk.

Dried milk can be added to thicken the yogurt and add extra nutrients.  I sprinkle some on top as the milk is cooling.  Whole milk makes a nice thick yogurt without it.

I like to use a quart mason jar and sit it in my Salton YM9 yogurt maker.  Other ways to keep it around 90 degrees include a preheated oven then turned off (depending on your lowest temp setting.  Mine was not low enough), insulated cooler filled with warm water, crockpot on low (again mine was too hot), a heating pad wrapped around it, a wide mouth thermos with warm water.

Incubate for 4-12 hours depending on the tartness preferred.  I start mine warming around 10 pm before I go to bed and get it about 6:30 am the next morning.  It's not very tart at all.

The yogurt is good for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator.  Make sure that it's not older than 5-7 days if you use it as starter for your next batch.

Make sure you only buy store bought plain yogurt with active cultures.  Do not use flavored yogurt.  After using your homemade yogurt as start a few times, you will probably want to use store bought yogurt for a batch.  Homemade yogurt cultures may become weak and not thicken properly over time.

If you decide to try it and run into problems let me know.  I have lots of troubleshooting tips but I've not had any problems yet.  Add a drop, or two or three, of honey and you're good to go!!

Storebought yogurt costs about 3 times the cost of homemade.  It costs me about $1.25 for 4 cups of the best whole milk I can buy.  It's probably between $3-4 for a quart of the best yogurt at the store.  Next time you're at the store, look at the grams of sugar on the back of your favorite flavored yogurt.  I promise you'll be surprised!  Some have as much as a can of coke.

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