Monday, January 28, 2013

Homemade Yogurt - Easiest Recipe Ever

I'm probably the six hundred thousandth person to put down a recipe for homemade yogurt. But here's the thing - it's really so much easier than you'd think. So, I'm going to write the directions as simply as possible, and then give a few more details.

Homemade Yogurt

4 cups milk
1-2 Tbs plain yogurt 
Glass jars that seal 
Candy thermometer 
A spoon

1. Pour 4 cups milk into a pot
2. Bring it to a boil, and stir until it reaches 180F.
3. Remove from the heat and let cool until 110F.
4. Put 1 -2 Tbs yogurt in a small bowl and add 1/2 c milk (or however much you want, the point is a little bit) and whisk together.
5. Add the mixture from step #4 to the rest of the milk.
6. Pour into the glass jars and seal.
7. Keep moderately warm for 8-12 hours (some people just wrap their jars in a blanket and set in a warm place).
8.  Remove jars from their warm place.
9. Put in the fridge.
10. Eat.

That's it. Seriously. I mean - IT.

Here's the science of it:
yogurt contains live bacteria (the container calls them 'cultures' cause that's somehow more appropriate to eat....?). Milk also contains bacteria but some of it can go bad quicker than the bacteria in yogurt/won't make yogurt - thus step #2 (kills all the potentially bad stuff). The little bacteria in yogurt can't quite handle that heat either, so you need to let the milk cool to a temperature bacteria loves - 110F. That little bacteria is just going to grow and grow, thus step #7.

Bacteria will continue growing if it's warm - thus step #8. If you want more tart yogurt, leave it out closer to 12 hours.

Here are a couple tips:
1. Use whole milk.

2. If you have a crock pot, fill it with water and set the temperature to it's lowest setting (on mine, that's warm). Once you've filled your jars with your soon-to-be-yogurt (and sealed them), put them in the crockpot and leave covered. I've found this is the perfect way to keep my yogurt warm. If I'm going to bed and the yogurt has sat in the warm water for 3-4 hours, I just switch of the crock pot and the bacteria growth begins to slow until I bring it to a halt in the morning when I put it in the fridge.

3. Your yogurt will firm up a bit after it goes in the fridge, so don't worry if it seems a bit runny.

4. Want Greek Yogurt? Pour the finished product yogurt (as in, after step #8) into a sieve lined with a cheesecloth and press out the whey (note - whey can be used in a variety of cooking endeavors, so don't toss it. it's also apparently lactose free! What?!?!?!) There you go, Greek Yogurt.

5. Want flavored yogurt? I've put frozen berries on the bottom of the empty jars between steps #5 & #6, and just continued as usual. The end product is a bit more runny, but absolutely delicious. Fresh fruit would also work. For flavored (as in vanilla) - add 1 tsp vanilla and 3 Tbs honey to the milk when it is coming to a boil (or however much you want depending on what flavor you're going for). The end product is not noticeably different from plain yogurt.

6. Need sour cream? Just use Greek Yogurt - seriously. No reason not to. None at all. And your heart thanks you, and so does your urinary tract.

Enjoy!!!!! And let me know if you come up with any other amazing yogurt recipes (or if my science lesson is off :) It's my summary of about 15 different recipes I looked at...

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