Thursday, January 17, 2013

obsession: homemade yogurt

Friends, I made homemade yogurt this week. One word: obsessed. I can hear it calling my name from the fridge long before lunchtime. The smooth, creamy texture combined with the summer's bounty freezer jam equals perfection. The price tag for such deliciousness is enough to make me giddy. We used to spend $5-$10 on Greek yogurt each week. Definitely not frugal...but I loved the convenient, protein-packed goodie for lunch and the hubster has a morning ritual of Greek yogurt and coffee. This homemade discovery will save us on average $12-24 a month. Ahh the thrill of beating the system and saving money! Yes, the process is a bit messy, and you do need to time the steps right, but the payoff is so worth it!
Half gallon milk (whichever type you prefer - whole milk makes the creamiest and thickest)
Starter yogurt with live and active cultures (I used Wegman's plain Greek yogurt).

1. Heat milk on stove to 180 degrees to sterilize it. Be sure to stir often so your milk doesn't burn.
2. Let milk cool to 110-105 degrees. This takes anywhere from a half an hour to almost an hour. Setting your yogurt in a cool place on a cooling rack can speed this step up.
3. Add starter yogurt about 4 tbsp. Note: every recipe I read had different amounts.
4. Cover yogurt with towel and put in a warm place that will keep the yogurt warm and at a consistent temperature. An oven with the light on, a well-insulated cooler with some hot water in containers, an oven turned to 150 and then turned off once it reached it temperature, etc.
5. Let yogurt incubate 7-12 hours or overnight. Yogurt that's left longer has a stronger tangy flavor.
6. If you wish, strain yogurt to get a more Greek-like texture. A piece of muslin or cheese cloth allows the whey to strain out quite well (a strainer will not work).
7. Reserve some yogurt for your next batch.
8. Flavor the remaining yogurt with honey and vanilla to taste.
9. Pour about 3/4 c. into mason jars and refrigerate. Makes about 7 servings.

This recipe is based upon the wise words of my dear SIL aka the yogurt master, the recipe in Make the Bread, Buy the Butter cookbook by Jennifer Reese, and these two recipes from Spicie Foodie and Kitchen Stewardship.

A few notes:
- Whole milk makes the creamiest yogurt, but I used 1% for ours and it still tasted great, just a little thinner
-Don't forget to reserve some yogurt (and hide it from hungry tummies in your fridge). Otherwise, you'll have to buy another starter yogurt...not the end of the world, but no use spending money when you don't have to.
- Freezer jam works great for "fruit on the bottom" style, but granola, fresh fruits, muesli, and cereal are all great mix ins. Experiment and try to recreate your favorite flavors at home.

Next week I'll be attempting to recreate pineapple Greek yogurt. I'm thinking pineapple and a little sweetener mashed together and maybe some shredded coconut and almonds on top. Hey, if it's going to be as cold as they say, I might as well make our fruit taste like we're living in the tropics!

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  1. Hello! So I found your blog via facebook and it is lovely! Tyler saw your picture and said 'hey! that's my teacher!' :) Can't wait to troll through your recipes. I am a yogurt maker but still haven't hit upon the perfect technique.

    1. Hi! Aww thanks! I just clicked over to one of yours and had a good chuckle over a few of the Katie and Tyler stories :) And you have an all-things-crafty blog?!?! Looks like I've got some new inspiring reading material :) My new favorite gadget is a little incubator for my yogurt. It's nothing fancy, but it does free up my oven and it does the job. Just pop it open and strain it through some muslin for a few hours and viola - greek yogurt! What techniques have you tried?

    2. I tried the oven light, crockpot on 'warm' setting, and in a cooler wrapped in towels. That worked the best, but I can't seem to get consistent results. Last time it was stringy which was very weird!I am going to try your way next time.