Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Make Your Own Yogurt - Traditional or Greek

My son eats yogurt like CRAZY.  On a weekly basis, he probably eats 3 quarts of himself.  My sweet husband and I both like Greek yogurt. In addition, for the last year, I have used it in place of almost everything that calls for sour cream (save heated dips....which it does not work for).

All in all, I probably was spending about $20 each week on yogurt.  Crazy, but it's healthy....and how can I talk my boy into cutting back on eating something

Years ago (like 15????), I bought a counter-top yogurt maker at a garage sale, but got confused by the instructions and gave it away to GoodWill a couple of years later.

But, with spending that much on yogurt, I decided that it was time to figure out if I could do it on my own.  And.....ta-dah!!!!!!  I CAN!!!!!!!!!

For the cost of a gallon of milk (about $3.50 where I live), plus the cost of 2 boxes of generic vanilla or banana pudding ($0.62 each X 2 = $1.24), and 1/2 cup of sugar ($0.08????), I can make 3 quarts of regular yogurt or a quart and a half of cost 4.82.  Buying at the store, the same volume would cost me about $11.37 for the traditional yogurt or $9 for the Greek yogurt.

Keeping on with the math, that's a 58% savings for traditional yogurt and 54% savings for Greek yogurt.....unless I am doing my math wrong.  It has been a while and this whole "new" math thing has me confused. ;)

While the whole process takes a long time, the actual time invested is minimal.

Here's how I do it.

I start with 1/2 gallon of skim milk at a time....I might be able to start with the full gallon and use a bigger pot....but I've never tried it.

Measure out 1/2 gallon of milk.  Remove 2 Tablespoons of milk and put into a small bowl for later.  It's OK to leave this out on the counter.

I heat the milk over medium high heat, stirring constantly.  It takes about 7-10 minutes, and I get bored quickly, so I read a book while I'm stirring.

When the temp reaches 180 degrees F, turn heat off.

Immediately pour into large, room-temperature bowl.  It is still, hot, hot, you can see by the steam rising off the heated milk.

Wait until the milk cools to between 110 and 105 degrees F.

While milk is cooling, preheat oven to 150 degrees F.

Then take the reserved 2 Tablespoons of milk and add in 3 Tablespoons of yogurt that contains live cultures.  The first time I did it, I used store-bought yogurt, but from then on out, I just take 3 Tablespoons out of every batch and put it in a small container to use as the culture for the next batch.

To tell if yogurt has live cultures, read the ingredients label.  Most commercial yogurts just say "cultured yogurt" or "cultured milk"....that doesn't count.  Look for the ones that actually list them....L. bulgaricus, S. thermophilus, L. acidophillus, Bifidus, etc.

There are some that just say "live active cultures," but I figure if you can't list them specifically, you're just making it up.

You can find more info on live active cultures here.

Stir the reserved milk/live culture yogurt mixture into the 105-110 degree F milk.  Make sure to combine throughly.

Cover container and place into preheated oven.

Turn oven off, turn oven light on, and wrap covered bowl in a towel.  The light on and the towel will help keep the temperature what it should be for the cultures to grow properly.

The mixture needs to rest/culture for at least 8 hours.  I typically do this at night before bed and then move on to the next step in the morning after I get the little guy off to school.  

This is what it looks like the next morning.  Not sure how well the picture turned out, but I tilted it sideways a bit to try and show the yellowish liquid on top.  That is the whey.  The rest is a VERY soft pudding-like consistency.

Then I line a colander/strainer with a thin tea towel.  A lot of what I read said to use cheesecloth.  For me, cheesecloth isn't re-usable...and would have added to my cost.....NOT my goal or in keeping with how I feel about using re-usable items.  So, this is a thin tea towel that I purchased at IKEA.  It's got a loose, supple weave and I wash it before...and after in a laundry load with bleach.  So, I'm not worried about any contaminants.

Pour the cultured milk (now really yogurt) into the strainer and liner.  Put the strainer in a large bowl.  I use the one that I just cultured the milk in over night.

Put the cover back on and place in the refrigerator. 

For traditional yogurt, let it strain/drain for 8 to 10 hours.

For Greek yogurt, let it strain/drain overnight.

The liquid in the bottom is called whey.  There are uses for it.  I have tried one...making sauerkraut....and I have a quart of it in the fridge to try bread with...but have yet to get there.

Set aside 3 Tablespoons of the yogurt for the next batch.

If you want to flavor or sweeten your yogurt, now is the time.  For my little guy, I use a pudding mix and extra sugar.  I was shocked how much sugar it took to make it taste like the store-bought stuff.  My hope is to dial back the sugar a teaspoon at a time and hope that his taste buds adjust to the slow decrease.

For me and my husband, we just use the Greek kind without additives.

Place your yogurt in a clean container. 

Refrigerate and enjoy!

No comments: