Making Yogurt

>> Thursday, February 5, 2009

We've discovered a new treat in our family...homemade yogurt. The idea of making my own yogurt seemed daunting to me at first. But then I discovered how incredibly easy it is and now I'm hooked.

Yogurt is well known for it's health benefits. Yogurt is full of active cultures that kills harmful bacteria and encourages friendly bacteria. Yogurt will make your gut very happy and even help with issues such as constipation and diarrhea. However, the yogurt sold in stores is full of sugar and has been pasteurized to the point that all the good bacteria is often killed, defeating the purpose.

To make homemade yogurt you'll need:

1 quart whole milk (we prefer raw milk, try to at least find high-quality, unprocessed milk)
1 tablespoon of a store-bought yogurt (try to find organic plain yogurt and make sure it says "live cultures on the carton)
glass jar

1. Fill the glass jar with boiling water so it's warm when you're ready to fill with milk. You don't want a cold jar to drain the warm milk of it's heat.

2. Heat the milk to 160 degrees. Some heat to only 100 - 110 degrees. The more you warm the milk, the more bacteria you kill. However, the less you warm the milk, the runnier the yogurt will be. I like to compromise and heat a little more for a thicker yogurt. But I'm still experimenting in this area.

3. Once the milk is heated, remove from heat and cool to 110 degrees.

4. Pour out the water from your jar and pour in milk. Add 1 T of your store-bought yogurt. This is your yogurt culture; the catalyst for growing new bacteria in your new yogurt. The more you add, the more you crowd out the bacteria which will produce a more sour, watery product so don't think that more is better.

5. Cover your jar and sit on a heating pad for 8-12 hours. I leave mine sitting overnight. You want to maintain a temperature of 110 degrees. Some people will put in the oven but my oven doesn't go low enough. Some say you can turn the oven light on and leave the oven off and this will maintain a good temp. Others will put in an insulated cooler filled with hot water. Find what works for you. But the goal is to keep your yogurt warm so you can incubate the bacteria.

6. Put in the refrigerator for another 3-6 hours. This will help your yogurt thicken.

7. Once the yogurt has reached the desired consistency...ENJOY! We like to mix fruit preserves or maple syrup in ours. But don't forget to save a couple tablespoons for your culture to start a new batch (or two) of yogurt.


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