My birthday wore me out but I couldn’t sleep that night. I don’t know if it was due to all the sugar consumed in two helpings of birthday cake and ice cream, or the excitement over my new healthy life resolution and ordering the ducks. Despite going to bed last night at the unusually early time of 9 PM, I turned off my alarm clock this morning and went back to sleep, waking at the terribly late time of 7 AM. I took a five minute shower, neglected to straighten my hair, grabbed a container of Light & Fit yogurt and a handful of almonds, and ran out the door. I (thankfully) made every light and missed the swell of on-time traffic, getting to work with just enough time to park in the farthest spot from the building instead of the first row. And I walked up the steps to my 4th floor office instead of taking the elevator, for the first time in a long time. I had to pause at the 3rd and each landing thereafter to catch my breath but I was feeling pretty good about my start toward healthiness.
Until I read the ingredients in my breakfast yogurt, that is. Modified food starch, fructose, kosher gelatin, vitamin A palmate, malic acid, etc, etc. The only thing listed as natural in it seemed to be natural flavor but I question that. If the flavor was really natural, wouldn’t it just say orange juice, since it’s orange yogurt? The container is a number 5 plastic which is not recycled in these parts so I tossed it in disgust. I went online and got a recipe for homemade yogurt which seems simple enough to make, stopped at the grocery store on the way home and bought organic 2% milk and organic yogurt for my starter. Tomorrow morning, it’s yogurt making time.
I walked for 20 minutes during my lunch hour after consuming a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup with some very questionable ingredients in it. Looks like this healthy lifestyle is going to prohibit processed foods. I don’t want to waste food so I’ll eat the stuff I have on hand and start looking for easy recipes to replace my grab-and-go provisions.
Here’s the yogurt recipe I’m going to try (from 101Cookbooks.com):
4 cups of fresh, organic 2% milk
1/3 cup of powdered milk
1/2 cup organic yogurt (this will be your starter)
Making yogurt begins with milk. Readers of 101 Cookbooks will not be surprised with the advice to buy organic milk that is fresh as possible. Slowly heat the milk on the stove over low-medium heat.
At this point you can choose to add powdered milk. Powdered milk creates thicker yogurt that takes less time to ferment. It's optional if you are using whole milk or two percent. Some skim and one percent milk include added milk proteins which make the product taste less watery and behave the same way as if you added powdered milk.
For your first batch we are going to go with two-percent milk plus 1/3 cup of powdered milk. This combination of milk with the powder will produce a delicious, basic yogurt.
The most tedious thing about making yogurt is watching the milk get hot. You need it to hit 170 degrees, but not have it boil. So you want to pay attention to the pot and have a thermometer at hand. Once you've hit the target temperature, remove from heat and then wait for the milk to cool. Unless you put the pot in the refrigerator it will take some time to cool to 108-112 degrees.
If you are using existing yogurt as a starter, have it handy in a cup. When the milk is cooled to the proper temperature, mix a small amount it in with the yogurt. This will break up the yogurt and makes blending it with the rest of the milk easier. Once you add the starter, the milk can be placed in the pre-heated yogurt maker for four to eight hours. Refrigerate before serving. Makes one quart.
Not wanting to buy a yogurt maker, I’m going to try these reviewers’ methods:
What I've done for years is to place my milk and cultures in a large glass jar with tight lid and set in inside my large pressure cooker pot with warm water up to the top of the jar at a temperature slightly warmer than 112 degrees, and heat the oven briefly, then turn it off, before going to bed. I like my yogurt tangy, but you could leave it in for a shorter period of time for a milder taste.
As far as the incubation, we just put it in a pyrex bowl, covered it with plastic wrap, and put it in a picnic cooler overnight. Worked great.
I’ll report on my preferred method after I’ve tried both.