Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How to make yogurt -- the illustrated guide

We go through yogurt rapidly at our house, especially now that the boys have discovered thick, creamy yogurt with honey and fresh fruit is quite tasty. Yogurt is one of the easiest things to make at home that can save you lots of money. Case in point, I like the greek-style, which runs around $5/lb.  I can make 4 lbs. at home for the price of a gallon of milk (2.80-3.20) and a 50 cent container of plain Yoplait yogurt.

You can use whole or 2% milk. The whole milk is a little richer, but since we'll be draining off the whey, creaminess is unaffected.

Heat up the milk to 180 degrees F. If you don't have a thermometer, this is when it's hot enough to be frothy, but not boil.  If you use whole milk, you can bring it to a boil with no problem. 

Cool the milk to 110 degrees. I put mine in a bowl like this with a little cold water. Doesn't take long. If no thermometer, test on the inside of your wrist like you would for a baby's bottle. It shouldn't feel ouch-your-mouth hot, but it should be pleasantly warm.

Take about 2 cups of the warm milk and mix it with a container of plain yogurt in a separate bowl. I like the plain Dannon, but you can use any kind of yogurt so long as it says "live culture" on the label. Different yogurts have various bacterial cultures which affect the flavor. This is what I like and for consistency, I use a fresh container each time. Once mixed in the smaller bowl, add to the large container and gently stir. You don't want to mix a lot of air in. Just stir to distribute the culture throughout the milk.

Cover the yogurt and let it sit and place with a consistent temperature from 5 to 12 hours, or until it firms up to a desired level. I heat my oven at 400 degrees F for 1 minute, turn it off, and set my covered yogurt in it overnight. This is convenient. Less time would probably be fine, but the trick to working "slow food" into a busy life is fitting it into the rhythm of your days.

When checking how it's "set up," I tilt the pan and it will pull away from the edge. You can kind of see it in this picture, but the pan was too heavy to take the pic and tilt it as I normally do. You'll know if it's firm or not. Trust me.

The next step is to strain off some of the whey. I line a colander with dampened coffee filters because that's something I have in abundance right now, having thought I was out and buying bulk. Others use cheesecloth, but I find that a pain to clean. The coffee filters work great and then go into the compost pile.

Here you see the yogurts been poured into the colander and is set to chill for another 5-12 hours in the fridge. Since I let the culture go over night, I usually do this step in the morning.

By the time I get home and finish my workout, the whey has drained out. You can see the yogurt is thick and pulling away from the sides of colander. Put the whey in a storage container to sue for soups. Then, flip the yogurt into the bowl and peel off the coffee filters. This is an easy job if you've flipped with confidence.

To further develop the creaminess quotient, I vigorously mix the yogurt. Those of you who prefer the yoplait custard style yogurt --- I'm talking to you.

Pour the yogurt into a storage container and put it in the fridge along with the whey.

Yogurt: My teen boys like yogurt best with fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey. If you're craving chocolate, mix in a chocolate syrup to taste. I eat mine mixed with rolled oats and blueberries for lunches. I also use it in place of sour cream and add it to baked goods to enhance moistness and often reduce the amount of butter or oil. If you enjoy indian food, you'll love having a large quantity of high quality yogurt on hand.

Whey: Add to soups and breads instead of water. Whey greatly improves the flavor of both.


Marc said...

Milk. I love it and so nutritious. I put it in my oatmeal and eat it with fruit. I drink it pre, during and post ride. Quality sustainable protein and sugars. Great. Heck, I'm drinking a glass right now with a banana.

Pat said...

Oh Syd, thanks for this recipe! I will try this and Ashley and I were just talking about the greek yogurt this weekend so I know she will give it a try!

sydney said...

Let me know how it turns out. There are a variety of starters out there and some are associated with different types of yogurt and will give different flavors. You can order them online from places like this:

or from cheese making supply stores. Whole milk and the addition of cream will increase the richness of the yogurt, but will also add greater amounts of fat and cals. This is another reason I simply strain off the whey and mix well to get the desired thickness.

She'll have to experiment a bit to find what she likes best.

What we need here now is a little of that Harless Home Brew. :)

Lee said...

Sydney, I just found this blog and I'm gonna be all over the yogurt recipe. I don't eat any yogurt now, but I know I should. thanks.

sydney said...

Lee, it is good for you, though cottage cheese has more protein per serving. One of the ways my boys like it best is mixed with some fruit and granola topped with honey.

Since they started eating that, there have been no further requests for ice cream.

If you like Indian food like saag paneer, you can do a super quick version by heating some chopped spinach, yogurt and garam masala together.

Marc said...

You got to learn how to make ice cream. It's as good and nutritious as yogurt. Variety is my spice of life.

sydney said...

Nope. Ice cream low on my priority list. Gives me a tummy ache. You should learn to make it.

Marc said...

I know how to make it. You should make it for your kids

sydney said...

Well, maybe they'll get me an ice cream maker for mom's day and then i'll show 'em how to use it and they can make it.