Saturday, October 30, 2010

Homemade Yogurt

There are so many recipes out there for homemade yogurt that it's not even funny. I have found that everyone has a different taste for this healthy snack and you really just have to play around with it to find the right taste, sweetness and consistency that fits you. I have taken about 4 recipes and combined them all to fit our family's taste for it. It’s very easy to make and if you use a crockpot, it basically makes itself. I have also discovered that yogurt can also be used in the place of buttermilk in many homemade recipes. Keep in mind that homemade yogurt is more “liquidy” than store-bought yogurt. Store bought yogurt (yes, even Stoneyfield Organic uses pectin to thicken their yogurt) usually contains some sort of gelatin or pectin which are not good for you. Both contain MSG. I’m going to use the method that I think works best and tastes as close to store bought yogurt as possible, but without the MSG.

What you’ll need:
- A crockpot
- A bath towel
- 12 cups of whole milk (don’t use ultra-pasturized, but use homogenized, pasteurized or my favorite, raw milk)
- 1cup of store bought yogurt to use as your starter (I prefer Greek yogurt or Stoneyfield Organic)
- Cheese cloth (you can find this in the cooking utincil aisle of Publix)
- A strainer and bowl where you can leave room to drain the whey from your yogurt.
- ½ cup raw, organic sugar (turbinado)
- 1 saucepan
- ¾ cup of water

How To Make It:
*One recipe I use suggests that you start this process around 4:30 in the evening, and then your yogurt will be ready by the time you get up the next morning.
Here we go...
Pour 12 cups of milk into your crockpot and cover with lid.
2. Set it on low for 2.5 hours and leave it alone.
3. 2.5 hours later, turn off the crockpot and leave it alone for 3 hours. Let the milk set. Leave the lid on.
4. Three hours later, use a whisk and mix in 1 cup of yogurt.
5. Cover your crockpot again and fold over a large bath towel over the top and sides of the crockpot to insulate the heat. Leave the crockpot off with the towel over it until morning.
6. In the morning, take off the towel and lid. Use a spoon to mix up your yogurt. If you like your yogurt plain and thin, you’re done.

If you want a good, thick yogurt (Greek yogurt)…Place your cheesecloth in your strainer and put on top of your bowl. Pour your yogurt on top of the cheesecloth. Place in the fridge for a few hours and let the whey drain. Save this whey if you want to use it in other baking recipes. It’s a great natural sweetener. After the yogurt has been in the fridge for a few hours, take it out, store your whey in a separate container and put your thick yogurt in a storage bowl. If you keep the yogurt draining for a day or so, it'll get so thick that it will become the most amazing tasting cream cheese!

*SAVE: Save 1 cup of your yogurt (before you add anything to it) as your starter for your new batch next week.

Now, here’s where the fun starts…
This is where you’ll feel like a chef in your kitchen. You get to choose the sweetness level and flavor of your yogurt.

FRUIT…I like to use 3 bananas and a ½ pint of strawberries. Blend them up into a shake and add to your yogurt for strawberry banana yogurt. Now, store bought yogurt is also sweeter than homemade yogurt, so we need to sweeten it.
SUGAR… I like to use a natural, raw, organic sugar (it’s actually caramel in color, unbleached) and can be found at most health food stores. It’s called turbinado sugar. Take 3/4 cup of water and place in a saucepan. Put your burner on medium to low heat. Add your ½ cup of sugar and stir until it’s dissolved. When your liquid mixture has cooled, add it to your yogurt and stir well.
Vanilla...I also like to add a little vanilla to my yogurt in addition to the fruit and sugar. You'll have to play around with your taste buds, but I prefer 2 tablespoons.

(Remember not to add powdered milk…which contains oxidized cholesterol and isn’t good for you…to thicken your yogurt.)

Wha-la! Enjoy!
Feel free to play around with the fruits and sugar for your specific level of sweetness. If you want to get really crazy (I know, I know, brace yourself here), pour some granola on top!


Taryn said...

Low sodium yogurt sounds good. The store yogurt always makes me thirsty although the organic plain yogurt doesn't have sugar added.

Taryn said...

You are right about pectin and gelatin containing msg- I looked it up in the book- The Seven Pillars of Health by Don Colbert,M.D. Powdered milk can also have msg according to his chart.