My Family LOVES yogurt but there are four issues here:
1. We are ALL Lactose intolerant
2. The amount we consume is tough on the budget
3. I like to control ingredients and eat as healthy as possible.
4. I did not need or want another appliance (yogurt maker)that I would have to store in my tiny kitchen.
My Solution- Homemade yogurt- so easy- and fits the above criteria!
Before I share the recipe, here is the link for Rock's in My Dryer - please visit there for more tips!
And Now the recipe:
1/2 gallon milk (can be any kind)
3/4 C. instant dry milk
2-3 tblsp. yogurt with ACTIVE CULTURES Please read the label and make sure this is active yogurt
several sterilized jars (can be glass, ceramic, metal or plastic)
You will need a candy or meat thermometer
Sweetener( see the notes below)
Sterile mixing spoon and jars by immersing them in boiling water.
Bring milk to 180 degrees F, remove from heat and cool to 110- 115 degrees F and add the cup of yogurt WITH ACTIVE CULTURES, remove a bowl full and mix in dry milk . Add back to pan and stir. Please read the label and make sure this is active yogurt. It will say on the label. Mix well with sterilized stirring spoon. Pour into sterilized jars and cap loosely. Hold at 100-110 degrees over night. ( at least 8hrs. how o below) But remember 100-110 Degrees are the magic numbers. Over 110 and the yogurt culture dies. Under this and it "sleeps." By morning you should have nice yogurt for breakfast!
I always use prepared yogurt as my culture. I buy a large container of plain store brand yogurt from the store. I bring it home and scoop it into a couple of ice cube trays. Then I freeze it. When it is completely frozen, I take the frozen yogurt cubes and pack them in a plastic freezer bag. Each time I make yogurt, I use one cube as the starter. You can use your own fresh yogurt as a starter too, but eventually it loses it's power due to the introduction of foreign bacteria, usually after using it about 3 or 4 times. I like to use a new frozen yogurt cube each time I prepare yogurt. I've had my best results this way.
Sweeteners and flavors: If you plan to use this as a substitute for sour cream then leave plain, Or add flavors and sweeteners as you serve. Flavors: Use any extract or Davinci syrup flavor or use jams and preserves. jams and preserves would be added as you serve, the syrups and extracts can be added while heating or when served. I prefer vanilla. Sweeteners: can be added while heating or as you serve add to taste: Sugar, Splenda, honey, Maple syrup, molasses.
There are lots of ways to incubate your yogurt:
I prefer to do it in my electric oven. I set the stove dial half way between OFF and 200°, or at approximately 100°. The light which signifies the oven is on, pops on for a moment, and then pops off when the temperature is reached. I set my jar of yogurt in the oven and leave it for between 6 and 8 hours, usually overnight, or while I'm out for the day. I take out the yogurt when it is thick. This method works for me*. My yogurt has a very mild flavor.
Some people pour the warm milk combined with the starter, into a large thermos and let it sit overnight.
Another friend uses a medium sized picnic cooler to incubate her yogurt. She places the jars inside the cooler and then add two jars filled with hot tap water, to keep the temperature warm enough. After 4 hours, check the yogurt to see if it is thick enough. If it isn't then refill the water jars with more hot water, return them to the cooler, and let the yogurt sit another 4 hours. When I tried this method, it worked very well. It took a full 8 hours, but the yogurt was perfect, and I liked not having my oven tied up during the day.
Other folks set the yogurt on top of a warm radiator, or close to a wood stove.
In a gas stove with the pilot operating.
On a heating pad set on low. You set it on low and then cover the heating pad with a towel, place the yogurt on top of it, and put a large bowl or stew pot upside down over the yogurt. This makes a little tent which keeps the heat in. I don't have a heating pad, and have never actually used this method myself, but a good friend swears by it.
Sometimes I have placed the jar in a pan filled with warm water, to keep the temperature even. This worked pretty well when I incubated the yogurt next to the wood stove. It kept the yogurt at a uniform temperature, even with occasional drafts from the front door opening and closing.
*Now in the event that it does not turn out as thick as you like, DO NOT THROW AWAY!
I have had only 2 batches turn out a little thinner than I like (in 8 years) I just used these for smooothies and as "drinkable yogurt!