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Make your Own Yogurt
Yogurt. This complete-protein source has become a mainstay in many households. Mini packages get tucked into lunches, it's added to smoothies, spooned over granola, the Greeks transform it into tzatziki, it becomes dessert with fruit and a drizzle of honey...if your diet isn't dairy-free or vegan, you've probably got your own idea to add to the list.
What does it have going for it?
-- contains Lactobacillus acidophilus and other "friendly" bacteria needed for the digestion of food
-- can help prevent candidiasis (yeast overgrowth)
-- source of calcium and other essential nutrients
-- through the fermentation process, fat and calories are reduced, and usually increases in the B vitamins
-- recommended especially after antibiotic therapy (which kills off some of the normal bacteria in the intestine)
Make your own yogurt.
-- use low-fat milk
-- forget the sugar - use a wee bit of maple syrup or honey if you have to, but it really does taste delicious as is
-- add whatever fresh or frozen fruit you like - or raisins, nuts, grated coconut.....
-- it costs much less than a carton from the supermarket
-- what you need: milk, plain yogurt to use as a starter, large dutch oven kettle, whisk, thermometer (opt), small bowl, large glass or pottery bowl, tea towel
Here's how you make it.
-- pour 2L carton of milk into a large kettle - you need room for it to come to a full boil
-- turn on stove burner to medium or medium-high. Be prepared to stand there and stir, to avoid scorching or burning the milk - or having it boil over as soon as you turn your back on it.
-- stir consistently until milk comes to a full rolling boil, threatening to boil over.
-- remove kettle from heat source, let sit and cool for 45 minutes. Timing is important - set the timer so you don't forget.
-- while milk is cooling, take plain yogurt out of the refrigerator, making sure it doesn't have added sugar or gelatin in it. Just plain yogurt with bacterial culture. Put 4 Tbsp yogurt (about 1/3 cup) in a small, fruit nappie-size bowl. Let it sit on the counter and come to room temperature while the milk cools.
-- after cooling for 45 minutes, milk should be close to 112 degrees, if you want to check it with a thermometer. The trick is not to have the milk too hot to kill the yogurt bacteria, but it needs to be warm enough to activate the starter. I always go by the 45-minute mark. (I mention using the thermometer reading in memory of my Mom who faithfully used that method - with great success.) Add about 1/2 cup of the warm milk to the plain yogurt in your little bowl, stirring well to thoroughly mix, then add the whole works to the milk in the kettle. Stir well.
-- Pour into a glass bowl - ideally with a lid, but if it doesn't have one, cover it with a layer of plastic wrap and foil.
-- Cover the "baby" to keep it warm under wraps - using a couple tea towels to completely wrap it up. The casserole-carrying wrap my Mom made for me years ago works perfect and is a wonderful reminder of her.
-- place the covered bowl in a warm spot for overnight or all day. An ideal location in the winter is near a wood-burning stove, otherwise I put it on top of my refrigerator. If your house is really cool, you can let it rest on a heating pad, on low heat.
-- after 8-12 hours (will depend on the room temperature), check your yogurt to see if it's ready.
-- if it has more water (whey) than what you like, strain the yogurt using fine-mesh strainers. Letting it sit longer will give you yogurt "cheese", a healthy substitute for cream cheese.
-- enjoy, but be sure to save enough as a starter for your next batch
What if it doesn't turn out?
-- if you're using starter from your previous batch, maybe it's been in the fridge for too long and has lost its punch
-- the milk might have been too hot or too cool
-- all is not lost - it can be used in baking, pancakes
-- don't give up - the odd time mine doesn't turn out either but as long as I keep making it on a regular basis, this rarely happens.
I hope you try making yogurt. Except for the occasional home-made ice cream indulgence (and a latte once in a while), I rarely consume milk products - other than my home made yogurt. Let me know how yours turns out.