I have been eating yogurt for lunch for years and am often teased about it, but I love it. After reading labels on many brands and types of store bought yogurts and finding way too much sugar in most, I tried my hand at making my own a few years ago. I was a bit disappointed in how runny it always was and sometimes sour and resorted to buying store bought yogurts again. Recently I decided to give it a try again and have fine tuned my favorite recipe with great results. I have tried 2 very different methods with very different flavors and results. The first was a mesophilic yogurt and there are several cultures available for this type at Cultures for Health. I bought a pack that had 4 different types and have tried 2. This yogurt doesn’t require any cooking and is made sitting on your counter for 12-48 hours. The time varies depending on the temperature in your home. The first culture I tried was Viili, it is a bit of a runny yogurt, but great to add to smoothies and fruit for popsicles. Next I tried Filmjolk and found that it set up nice in about 48 hours and had a bit of a tartness that made it great as a sour cream substitute. These cultures are so easy to use and require very little time to mix up. This is made with no sweetener just a good whole milk. I like to find an organic milk when possible. Pour milk into a clean canning jar; add some starter and stir. Then cover with a coffee filter or cheese cloth to keep the bugs out. Use a rubber band or metal jar ring to hold in place and let set. To check if the yogurt has formed just tilt jar slightly and see if it is pulling away from the jar like a thickened yogurt. Then refrigerate for about 6 hours before eating. The refrigeration stops the fermenting process. Remember to save some for your next batch! You can keep your culture going as long as you make a new batch about once a week. Add 1 tablespoon of cultured yogurt to every cup of milk to continue for the next batch.
My favorite yogurt takes a little more time and some cooking, but I have been getting really good results. It seems to be all about temperature here and good ingredients. Here is my recipe:
4 C. whole organic milk
1/4 C. sweetener (can use honey, sugar, and more)
1 tsp. Vanilla
Heat the milk and sweetener to 180 degrees, don’t let it boil. Keep it at this temp for 20 minutes by stirring constantly. Add vanilla. Cool to 110 degrees. You can speed up the cool down time by setting pan in a sink with cold water. When it gets to 110 degrees mix a small amount with your starter then stir into the bigger batch. Put into jars. I use a yogurt maker and it has special jars that fit in it so I use those.
I have found that my Excalibur that I use for drying fruit holds a perfect 110 degrees and makes great yogurt in larger batches. You will keep it in the yogurt maker (or Excalibur) for 5-8 hours checking occasionally to see if it has set by tilting a jar and seeing if it is pulling away from the side of the jar. I am finding that 6 hours has been working pretty good for me.
I have been experimenting with cultures using this method and have recently found Bulgarian yogurt to be my favorite with Greek yogurt made with Fage as my culture to my next favorite. Mix in any of your favorite fresh fruits and enjoy!
Eat healthy and enjoy feeling great!