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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Making Yogurt - Anyone can do it!

Love Yogurt? – It’s not that hard and it’s so good for you!
Web Md has an awesome article on the health benefits - Check it out
I have problems with products that are produced in factories with lots of additives. You know, the million cow hamburger. The quality control in my kitchen is much better and guess what - no additives!  I know I have a fresh product that hasn’t been sitting in a warehouse or been left on the loading dock for hours in the heat. If it's going into my body, I what control of what's in it.

This is so simple and cost effective! I make 32 oz at a time (that’s about 5 containers). The cost to me is 60 cents a batch. My daughters, who have young children, make it by the gallon.  Topped with fresh fruit and crunchy cereal is our favorite way to serve it. Yum!
Here are some of the critical rules:

1. It is best to use whole milk (it’s the fat in the milk that make it creamy). The low fat yogurts on the market use pectin or gelatin to make the product "gel" or hold together.

2. Temperature is critical! Use a thermometer to determine the temperature of the milk.

3. You need live culture. Dannon all Natural will do nicely as will any other yogurt with live culture.

4. Do not add anything other than vanilla to the milk, all the flavorings and sugar are added after the yogurt is made. This is because these additives can interfere with the inoculation and growth of the culture that makes the cheese. Honey and other sweeteners can cause the culture to fail, but once incubated and cooled they may be added.
(note: my daughters add sugar before the milk is cultured and the product turns out a little thin but they like it.)

Equipment you will need

A thermometer that will measure up to 200 degrees and as low as 90 degrees. I use the little cooking thermometer but I have used a meat thermometer too.

Glass jars to hold the yogurt. I use canning jars, but you can use any glass container you can put a lid on. You aren't going to need to seal the lid so any covering, even wax paper and a rubber band will do.

Two quart jars with lids to hold boiling water. I use old mayonnaise jars and canning lids because I don't have to worry if they happen to tip over.

A thermal container to be the incubator for the yogurt. I use grocery thermal bag (I think it cost me a dollar) but you can use anything that will hold heat, even bath towels.

How to do it.

1. Heat the milk to 180 degrees and then take it off the heat.
2. Cool the milk to just under 100 degrees. I also get the jars of hot water ready now (microwave each jar on high for 4 minutes with the top off. When done close the jar)

3. Now stir up the starter yogurt so it is creamy and add it to the cooled milk. Stir until completely mixed into the warm milk.

4. Fill your jar with the yogurt milk and cap with lid. Place in the center of the incubator. Place the hot water jars on either side of the yogurt jar. Make sure the hot jars do not touch the yogurt jar.

5. Close up your incubator and cover with a bath towel if you are using a thermal bag. Set it in a warm place for 4 to 8 hours. The longer it incubates the tangier it will be. When you think it is done, take a look. The yogurt in the jars will be thick and not move when the jar is tipped on it’s side. Chill.
When you get near the bottom of the batch, it’s time to make some more. Just use the remaining yogurt as the starter for the next batch.

Want to make a thinker yogurt or a more calcium rich yogurt? For every quart of milk add 1 cup of powdered milk.  This will produce a thick, calcium rich product.   Happy eating and good health.

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