Monday, November 1, 2010

Homemade Yogurt

We are a yogurt eating family.  My husband loves yogurt, I love yogurt, our dogs LOVE yogurt.  What we didn't love, was buying yogurt.  First of all, it's expensive.  Second of all, have you seen the wall of yogurt at the grocery store lately?  It just keeps getting bigger and more confusing.  We also notice that it is full of 0% fat yogurt.  We are drinking 3% milk fat milk these days and we make a real effort to never buy reduced fat anything.  Finally, it's full of stuff.  I'm not sure what most of the stuff is, gelatin to be sure, but also sugar, preservatives, etc.  Yuck!

We talked about buying a yogurt maker for a long time, but worried that making yogurt would be too complicated, that it would be too runny, that it wouldn't taste good.  Finally, a few months ago now as part of our effort to eat less processed foods, we bought a yogurt maker.

My husband was in charge of choosing which yogurt maker to buy.  He is the chooser of techy things in this house.  We decided together that having single servings of yogurt was not a big priority for us (many yogurt makers are this style).  We would be adding flavour after the yogurt was made, so one large yogurt jar seemed to make the most sense.

We settled on the Yogourmet Yogurt maker, which comes with everything shown below.  The smaller container is what we use to incubate the yogurt so the good bacteria can grow and make our milk into yogurt.  The larger container gets a little bit of water added to it, and then you set the smaller container inside and plug it in.  It keeps the constant temperature that the bacteria prefer.  A thermometer is also included.

Here is the basic process:

Heat milk to required temperature while constantly stirring, we add some evapourated skim milk powder at this stage to help the yogurt stay thick.  We like thick, creamy yogurt.  Store bought yogurt uses gelatin to make yogurt creamy.  Adding skim milk powder works pretty well, our yogurt is always pretty firm, it also boosts the calcium content (bonus).

Once the milk reaches the required temperature, fill a sink with cold water and submerge the pot with the hot milk in it, stir the milk often.  The idea is to quickly cool the milk to the desired temperature. 

Add in yogurt culture (we use some of the yogurt from the last batch, or you can buy plain yogurt from the grocery store.  You can also use powdered culture, but the packets are expensive and not readily available) and pour everything into the smaller container. 

Put the small container into the incubator with water and turn on.  Let it sit for 4 hours without touching it at all. 

Move the smaller container into the fridge for 8 hours.  Try not to jostle it or touch it much while it sets.

Enjoy your yogurt!

We got our yogurt maker after the summer fruit season, so we didn't really have a chance to put any fruit away for this purpose.  Lately we have been using a spoonful of low sugar, grocery store jam for flavour.

We started out making 1 litre of yogurt per week, now we are up to 2 litres (the maximum for the yogurt maker).

At the grocery store, 2 litres of on sale yogurt would probably cost us $10, now, it costs us the price of milk, probably under $2.  It also costs us a little time and effort, but it is totally worth it.

Lately I have been enjoying yogurt on granola (with some jam) for breakfast.  Yum!

Please note: I was not asked to review or mention the Yogourmet Yogurt Maker and was not compensated in any way.

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