If you told me a few years ago I would be this excited over yogurt, I would have been shocked and maybe a little worried, too. But now, my family and I enjoy yogurt almost on a daily basis, and so when I learned that you can make yogurt at home without any fancy equipment or specialty skills, I was intrigued. My mother learned this technique from a friend and passed it on to me with a few of her tips. I then perfected this process and made it foolproof!
The words yogurt and probiotics usually are found right next to each other when discussing gut health. Probiotic, which literally means “for life”, refers to the living organisms present in fermented foods like yogurt which are responsible to many health benefits, including improving immune system health and preventing gastrointestinal issues such as constipation, inflammation and diarrhea. Consuming yogurt even just a couple of times weekly can help you maintain regular bowel movements while meeting some nutrient needs including your getting enough calcium, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, potassium and magnesium (these are specific to cow’s milk yogurt as opposed to coconut or almond milk yogurts).
Are you ready to learn how to make your probiotic-rich snack at home?
Making your own yogurt is really quite simple; choosing the right starting ingredients will determine the quality of your end product. Choose whole- fat milk, organic if possible, and you may use a yogurt starter kit, but you don’t really need it. You can just use a plain (organic as well, if possible) full- fat yogurt as starter. Choose a plain yogurt free of any additives or artificial colors: the only ingredients should be live cultures and milk. You will also need the following: a large pot, a large glass bowl, towels and stirring spoons. If you have a food thermometer to double, check your temperatures the first time you make it, it helps; however, it is optional.
What you’ll need:
- 34 ounces of milk
- 6 ounces of plain yogurt
- Boil 34 ounces (1 liter) of milk over medium heat. The boiling point will be reached at 185 degrees Fahrenheit, but otherwise, you can tell when it reaches the boiling point when it starts to froth. Stir constantly, that so it will boil evenly and avoid burning. Once it boils, take milk off the heat. Now let it reach about 100 degrees; if you have a thermometer, you can just watch the temperature as it drops. Or, wash your hands and insert your pinky finger in the milk: when you can hold it in the milk for 10 seconds, it is ready for the next step! Wait a few minutes before testing it the first time — you don’t want to burn your finger, of course!
- In a large glass bowl, place the 6 ounces of plain yogurt, and add just ½ cup of the hot milk to the yogurt and mix well. Now add the rest of the milk to the glass bowl.
- Cover the bowl with an airtight lid. From this point on, the active cultures are very delicate and are “working” on turning the milk into yogurt. Wrap it with a towel to converse the heat. You can also place the bowl inside a thermos bag instead of wrapping with cloth.
- Take the wrapped dish to your “holding” space. This space needs to be somewhere without ventilation, a place that will maintain the warm temperature. You may use a microwave, a corner in your pantry, a crockpot, or my personal favorite, the oven. Of course all those devices, including the oven will be off! It is just a safe place where your yogurt won’t be disturbed and have time to rest while staying sufficiently warm .. A minimum of 8 hours is recommended to complete this process, but you can l let it incubate up to 12 hours. The longer you wait, the thicker your yogurt will be.
- Now you are ready to enjoy your yogurt and flavor it anyway you want it. Don’t forget to save some so that you can make your next batch. You can use 6oz of your own yogurt for that purpose.
Flavoring the yogurt is without a doubt the best part of the yogurt-making experience! Use ½ cup of your yogurt and add 2 tablespoons of your favorite Once Again Nut Butter. Top it off with coconut flakes and chocolate chips for a desert-like treat that is healthy and homemade. A family favorite is our “peanut butter cookie yogurt.” We add peanut butter to plain yogurt and stir in a little honey and mini dark chocolate chips.
For a dairy-free version you can use coconut milk, or even almond milk. Although I have not tried this process yet, there are recipes for it, and it involves the same basic steps as described above with some minor modification and additions. If you have made your own dairy free yogurt before, please share your tips with us!
… have a deliciously healthy day,