I love yogurt, and knowing how to make my own homemade yogurt is a skill that provides me with this tasty treat all the time.
I know, I can here you now, “homemade yogurt! I’m not that great in the kitchen!” Well fret not, it is actually very easy if you follow the directions below.
What do you need to make homemade yogurt
- 1 quart Whole Milk
- 2 large dollops of natural yogurt with active live bacteria (Okay so you do have to take a trip to the store once).
That’s it for ingredients, nothing fancy. Now below are the instructions for simple healthy homemade yogurt:
Step 1- Add 1 quart of whole milk to a saucepan and heat until small bubbles appear around the outside of the saucepan (but do not boil). Heat milk to about 170 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the milk from the heat and allow to cool. Cooling will be quicker if you stand the saucepan in cold water.
Step 2- When the temperature of the milk has dropped to between 110 to 115 F, take out one cup of the milk and add in the the yogurt starter culture. The simplest starter culture to use is one quarter of a cup of plain commercial yogurt (it’s important that it contains live cultures though). Mix in the starter until it has dissolved.
Step 3- Slowly mix your starter combination back into the rest of the milk.
Step 4- Place the mixture into several small, sterilized containers (you can sterilize your containers by simple filling them with boiling water). Then seal the containers tightly.
Step 5- Allow the yogurt to incubate in a warm place to encourage the bacteria to grow. The temperature should be as close to 100 degrees as possible. I usually use my stove with a halogen bulb in place of the standard oven light. You could also place the containers into a bowl of hot water that is just about bearable to the touch.
Step 6- Allow the mixture to sit at this temperature for a minimum of seven hours. After this period of time you should have a container full of mixture that looks similar to custard and smells rather cheesy. It may also have a greenish liquid film over the top. Do not panic, this is exactly what you are looking for, if you get the greenish film, on top, simply skim it off.
Step 7- Experiment with the time that you leave the yogurt. If you leave it for longer than seven hours it will make yogurt that is thicker, and it will have a tangier taste.
Step 8- Place the yogurt into a fridge for several hours to chill. It will keep for up to two weeks and you can save a small amount to use as your culture for the next batch.
Step 9- Remove from the fridge and serve with any variety of jams, preserves, nuts, fruit or honey…delicious! My favorite mix is to put some honey in it, then a little salt, the sweet/salty taste is just simply heaven!
Honestly, making healthy homemade yogurt is just that simple. But each step has some options, and you can choose the ones that best suit you and what equipment you have at home.
- The intention behind heating the milk is to kill off all the bacteria that are already there. Even if there are already some “good” bacteria, they may not be the proper ones for making yogurt. For instance, the bacteria that exists in buttermilk will turn cream into creme fraiche, which is like sour cream. And of course, the bad germs we do not want for obvious reasons.
The best method for heating is to use a thermometer while heating the milk on medium-low heat in a sauce pan on the stove. Make sure it gets to 175 degrees at least, and preferably 180 degrees, as you may be measuring a “hot spot”.
Another way is to use a glass container to heat the milk in a microwave. By adjusting the time, volume and power you will eventually learn the proper settings to get the right temperature. Be careful though, as the glass container will be VERY hot when removing it from the microwave.
If you do not have a thermometer (a simple candy thermometer available at most supermarkets and kitchen stores will do the trick) then you can watch for a steady amount of bubbles and a fair bit of steam coming off the milk. You do not need it to be boiling. You should also be able to put your finger in without pain, but it should not be comfortable to leave it in (but make sure it is clean!!).
- We now need to let the milk cool down to about 110 degrees before we add the cultures. This is because high heat will kill them (which is what we were doing to the bacteria that were already there). This is only a few degrees above body temperature, so if you do not have a thermometer then you should be able to tell by the fact that a finger dipped into it will be warmed, but not hurt by the milk. If you have ever made a bottle of baby formula or milk, it should be just about that temperature or a little above.
If you want to get the milk to cool down faster, there are three tricks you can try:
- First, pouring the milk back and forth between two containers will help because it gets the air into contact with a lot more of the liquid.
- Second, dividing it into a few small containers will increase the surface area; the same goes for a wider, shallower container.
- Third, a metal object such as a ladle or spoon will help conduct heat out of the milk, but this is a minimal effect.
- There are two good sources of good or friendly bacteria (probiotics): a package of yogurt starter, which is usually available in health food stores (although I had trouble recently finding it, but then there is no culture in my town); or a small amount of a previous batch. If you are using yogurt from a previous batch there are two things to take into account: it should not be very old (less than ten days, and preferable no more than five), and doing this too many times in a row runs the risk of other bacteria being included and possibly spoiling the batch. This last effect should be minimal if you make batches frequently, but if this occurs just start with some yogurt starter again.
Another option is to use store-bought yogurt, but bear in mind that not all commercial yogurt has live bacterial cultures. Read the label!
Also, when buying yogurt starter, make sure you do not accidentally get a different culture. There are other products, such as Kefir, that are made in the same manner, so be sure of what you are getting so you are not surprised. (Kefir is good, but it is definitely not the same thing.)
- There are 4 methods that are commonly used to “incubate” the yogurt. The first is by using a store-bought machine that will keep the temperature at the optimal point (which is body temperature; after all, that is the temperature at which we expect them to thrive once they get inside of us). But if you do not have one there is no need to run out and get one right away. You can use a double boiler or submersed container in water kept at a mere simmer; a “bain marie” which is the same thing but inside the oven rather than on stove top; and you can even use a thermos! Of course, you will want a wide-mouth thermos to make removing the yogurt easier.
The temperature at this step needs to be in a range that is reasonable; too cold and there will be no growth of the bacteria, too high and the bacteria will be killed. The range is fairly wide, but if you keep the temperature steady and the same every time, then knowing the amount of time to process it will be easier. At the optimal temperature of 100 degrees I find that 4 to 6 hours is best. 4 hours makes a mild tasting yogurt, while 6 is tangier but thicker.
Several Benefits of Homemade Yogurt
Homemade yogurt is usually crammed with protein but low in calories. High-protein diets will certainly help throughout as the stress loss coming from reducing appetite along with boosting metabolism. the body has lots of energy in order to digest it, increasing the calorie burn from the day. Yogurt is usually filled with vitamins. One serving is a significant source of potassium, phosphorous, riboflavin, iodine, zinc, and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid). Yogurt also contains B12, which maintains red blood cells and helps keep your nervous system functioning properly. “Vitamin B12 is found mostly in animal products, such as chicken and fish, so strict vegetarians can easily fall short,
- Reduced Disease Risks
Women who eat yogurt often have fewer chronic-disease risk factors, which can enhance their quality of life and increase their life expectancy.
- Heart Healthy
Another good reason to heart yogurt: “Consuming fat-free and low-fat yogurt may help lower your risk of developing high blood pressure. Special proteins in dairy regulate BP, and high levels of calcium, magnesium, and potassium contribute to the blood pressure-lowering effect.
Check out this post on WebMD to learn more about the health benefits of yogurt.
- Craving Control
Protein, abundant in yogurt, helps increase satiety and therefore helps women control their overall calorie intake for healthy weight management.
- Yogurt is less difficult to be able to digest as compared to milk.
Many people, who cannot bear with milk, either because of protein allergy or lactose intolerance, those people can enjoy yogurt. The culturing method makes yogurt more digestible than milk.
- It’s loaded in calcium
One serving of homemade yogurt contains as much protein as an egg, which means yogurt can help you build a protein-rich diet. Which is the diet I live by, and has helped me lose substantial weight. Protein is very beneficial for maintaining energy all the day.
Besides some great health benefits, you should also try using homemade yogurt in recipes:
Yogurt works as an alternate ingredient in all sorts of recipes. Plain yogurt can take the place of cream in a pinch. You can also alternate a complementary flavor of yogurt for some of the oil or butter called for in a muffin, brownie, or cake recipe. It can replace all of the fat. Check out Bon Appetit for some helpful cooking with yogurt tips.
Homemade yogurt, when made thicker and tangier, can be used in place of sour cream for seasoning your food. I enjoy a dollop on my burritos!
Yogurt increases the intake of calcium and B-vitamins. The lactic acid in the yogurt helps to absorb in the digestion of the milk calcium, women eating yogurt regularly were actually taking with an higher variety involving calories and still dropping fat at the higher rate as compared to their counterparts.
If you want the most benefit from yogurt, prefer the low fat(made with low fat milk), plain, unsweetened kind and flavor it with fresh fruit or honey or eat it on the side of various dishes.
Yogurt is a tasty foodstuff to quench your sweet tooth. It has both stuffing enough to be able to satisfy and low-calorie enough to manage your waistline.
So there you have it, a great recipe for making homemade yogurt and all the reasons you should make it part of your diet. What tips, tricks or advice do you have for homemade yogurt making?