Homemade Yogurt

Filed under: Recipes,Special Diets,Special Ingredients , Tags: , , — Author: Caron Golden , February 10, 2020

Imagine being a New Stone Age human, just starting to engage in food production back around 9,000 B.C. You have sheep and goats that you’ve discovered are tasty (Domesticated cows wouldn’t show up until about 4,000 B.C.). And, their wool keeps you warm. But what really made them appealing is their milk. It’s so nutritious!

Just one problem that many of your clients can relate to. People—not all, but enough—couldn’t digest it easily. Yep, there was lactose intolerance back in the very old days. But by fermenting the milk—as in creating yogurt and cheese—a lot of that lactose morphs into lactic acid, which is much more easily digested.

Today, of course, there are entire walls of supermarkets dedicated to yogurt. And, yeah, it’s so convenient to toss a bunch of containers into your cart. It’s a great, easily transportable snack, transforms into a beautiful sauce or dip, and, yes, is magical when flavored and frozen.

But you haven’t tasted the real deal until you’ve tasted homemade yogurt. That’s because it’s missing all those chemical additives that keeps the processed stuff more time to languish in your fridge. What you have with homemade yogurt is the milk—cow’s, sheep, or goat—along with some culture. That’s it.

The most important element in making yogurt is the quality of the milk. Sure, you can buy milk, even goat milk, at a market but read the labels and you’ll find they’ve been pasteurized to within an inch of their lives. Your task is to dive into relationships with farmers, Local Harvest, and natural health food stores to find out how you can access farm-fresh milk.

The cooking process is then straightforward. First make sure everything—from utensils to the cooking container—is spotlessly clean. You’ll pour the milk into a stainless steel pot and heat it to about 180 degrees, then cool it down to 115 degrees with an ice bath. The milk is then ready to receive the culture that will transform it. Use either a cup of unflavored yogurt or yogurt culture that you sprinkle on the milk. Stir it in well and then place the yogurt in a water bath. If you have an Instant Pot you can use the Yogurt setting. If not, you can use a clean, sanitized ice chest with water that’s 120 degrees. Cover the milk mixture tightly and let it sit in the chest or slow cooker for up to 24 hours. Then you’ll refrigerate the yogurt, aiming for 38 degrees. If the yogurt isn’t as thick as you’d like, turn it into Greek-style yogurt by hanging it in muslin over a bowl to drain the whey (which you should save and use).

At that point you can flavor it if you want and pour it into individual containers. But first taste it. It will taste like no yogurt you’ve ever had—fresh and tangy and clean. You’ll want to eat it all up or, if you have some will power, use it as an ingredient in a sauce.

Two issues to note: Again, make sure everything involved is scrupulously clean, but if for some reason your creation doesn’t smell like yogurt or cheese, don’t eat it. And don’t flavor it until it’s cooked (except the coconut yogurt, to which you can add agave or other sweetener and vanilla bean). Ford explained that the flavorings will deteriorate the yogurt faster than if it is plain.

Sheep, Cow, or Goat Yogurt
Yield: Depending on the species, yields will vary. Sheep and cow milk will yield between ¾ and 7/8 of a gallon. Goat milk will not have as high a yield. If you make Greek-style yogurt, yield will decrease about 50 percent.

Ingredients
1 gallon fresh milk
Yogurt culture or a cup of yogurt

Tools
Stainless Steel Pot
Thermometer
Extra Fine Butter Muslin
Colander
40-quart Ice Chest, or a Slow Cooker, Ricer Cooker, or Instant Pot

Directions
Pour the milk into a large stainless steel pot on the stove and bring up to 175 to 180 degrees.

Once milk reaches the correct temperature, cool the milk down to 115 degrees by pouring it into a bowl and place that bowl into an ice bath.

When milk is cooled sprinkle culture on top of milk and let hydrate for a minute or two. If you use yogurt simply stir into the milk. Stir yogurt culture into the milk going both directions and bottom to top to make sure the culture is well mixed, otherwise your yield will go down and it can also result in a grainy texture.

In a clean and sanitized ice chest pour in 120-degree water for your water bath. It should be just enough so that the water line and milk lines are level. Not enough can cause yogurt not to fully develop, while too much will cause pot to float and possibly tip over. Cover the pot of milk tightly with lid or plastic wrap. You can also use individual, sanitized glass jars. Close the lid of the ice chest and let sit for 18-24 hours.

As an alternative you can pour the milk into a slow cooker, rice cooker or Instant Pot and set to low or yogurt setting for 12 hours.

Remove yogurt from ice chest/water bath or electric cooker and refrigerate until fully cooled and set.

Once yogurt is well chilled (38 degrees), you can create a thicker Greek-style yogurt by placing the yogurt in a fine butter muslin and colander and letting the whey drain into a bowl. The more you hang and drain the whey the sour/tart flavor will increase. Save the whey and use in smoothies, blend with fruit for frozen pops, or include in sauces.

Have you ever tried to make homemade yogurt? Did it live up to expectations?

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