Making your own yogurt is amazingly easy, and it is very good. Taking it another step and making Greek yogurt or yummy cheese is just as easy.
OK, about the ingredients. If you want rich yogurt, use whole milk. If you want lower calorie and fat, use reduced fat. Greek yogurt will be better if you use whole milk, and sometimes it is made with 1 1/2 cups milk and 1/2 cup cream. The best yogurt I ever made, naturally sweet and so delicious, was made with un-homogenized milk bought at a health food store. It is outstanding and needs no sweetener.
Now the starter. You can buy yogurt cultures from most places that sell cheese making supplies. One on line source is Lehmans.com I have never used purchased cultures. I make yogurt with my favorite store bought yogurt, or with yogurt I've made myself. It is vital that this be all-natural yogurt with live cultures and NO thickeners like gelatin. You can use store bought Greek yogurt if you like.
Pour the milk into a medium sized saucepan. Over medium high heat, bring it to 100 degrees F. If you don't have a cooking thermometer, this is about as warm as you make a baby's bottle. Temperature is important - if it is not warm enough, it won't work; if it is too hot, it will kill the cultures.
Once it is the right temperature, stir in the yogurt, combining thoroughly.
Now you have to keep the mixture warm for at least 8 hours. In hot summer weather, just put it somewhere where it won't be disturbed. Temperatures in the 80's will be good, in the 90's perfect. In cooler weather, try the top of your refrigerator or hot water heater, or inside an oven with a pilot light. I have heard that some people have success by wrapping the container in some kitchen towels and putting it on top of a heating pad on the lowest setting, with a few layers of towel between the pad and the bowl.
Put the warm milk and yogurt in a very clean container with a lid. Wrap it is a kitchen towel to keep as much warmth in as you can. Put it in your chosen spot. Leave it without disturbing at all (don't peek!) for at least 8 hours. After 8 hours, check and see how thick it is.
Now to make Greek yogurt or yo-cheese: they do make special strainers for doing this. I have two, and they work really well. Mine look just like the little baskets used as strainers in coffee makers. If you don't have any, use cheesecloth. You can try lining a colander with a few layers of it. Put your yogurt in this, put the colander in a bowl to catch the liquid, cover the yogurt, and let it drain until it is as thick as you want, 1/2 hour or more. You can also line a bowl with the cheesecloth, put the yogurt in, draw up the edges of the cheesecloth, tie it up like a money bag, and hang it over the bowl.
For Greek yogurt, check the thickness after 1/2 hour.
For yo-cheese, you will have to let it drain for several hours until the yogurt is very thick, like cream cheese. It will taste very similar to cream cheese, and can be used very effectively in place of cream cheese. Or try mixing in a little garlic and/or onion powder and some herbs. Oh so good! In the Middle East, when they have yo-cheese that is getting a bit old and dry, they roll it into small balls, like a large olive, then put it in some olive oil that has been flavored with garlic and herbs. This freshens it beautifully. Take the cheese balls out of the oil, drain well, and serve with crackers or veggies.
All yogurt and yo-cheese has to be refrigerated after it is done.
As a thrifty benefit, take all the whey you have drained off of your yogurt and use it to make bread. It makes a delicious, slightly sour loaf. Try toasting it and spreading it with yo-cheese!
Source: A life time of making yogurt.
By Copasetic 1 from North Royalton, OH
Thanks for this very inspiring post... makes me want to make yogurt again! Special thanks for the directions for making Greek yogurt and yo-cheese too.
However I'm concerned because the recipe tells you to start with fresh milk and heat it to 110 degrees F. But it's my understanding that if using fresh milk that it's important to first scald the milk, and then let it cool to 110 degrees. Otherwise there's a risk of having undesirable (possibly harmful) bacteria growing in your yogurt. But it's not necessary to scald canned or UHT milk (provided you use it immediately after opening it) because they are already sterile. But if you use canned milk, you should first boil the water that you use to dilute it.
I've been making yogurt for a few years now and I bought a yogurt maker that makes almost a quart of the best yogurt at a time. I do leave it to "process" longer than called for in order to get a more tart flavor and a thicker yogurt since we like it that way.
I always start with dry milk, and make it a little richer than called for. This also gives the finished yogurt a more tart flavor. Do use a store brand dry milk if possible though. I've tried using Carnation and was never happy with the results. We have Winn Dixie stores here in Florida and so far, that has given me the best of all in flavor and texture. I'm the only one in our family who enjoys yogurt although I've often substituted yogurt for sour cream. No one knew the
difference. I think yogurt is just as good on baked potato as any sour cream, but of course, I like yogurt in the first place.
I think yogurt is one of those foods that you need to practice with just a little in order to get exactly what you like best. So when you're making it, don't give up if you don't get what you want the first time around. You can always use it when making mashed potatoes along with some butter for the best ever mashed potatoes.
I do start with about 1/2 cup of store-bought live-cultured yogurt, then save back enough to make the next batch etc. It's very good, and very good for you.
Thank you for sharing your recipe, directions and expert advice, Copasetic. You come up with some wonderful recipes, so I always watch for them. I especially love learning new ways to do old things.
Hi; You had a question about the kind of milk to use. I recommended non-homogenized milk. This milk is safe because it is pasteurized. Pasteurization heats the milk so hot it kills all the bacteria, and makes it safe. Homogenizing the milk is where they alter the milk so that all the cream stays mixed in the milk, and you don't get a layer of cream at the top of the milk like nature intended. At least in Ohio, non-homogenized milk is as safe as the regular milk you get in any grocery store. I wish I could buy non-pasteurized milk, but it's illegal in Ohio. Raw milk as it comes from the cow is safe if the cow is milked in clean conditions. It is better for you since pasteurizing kills most of the nutrients, and is what makes so many people allergic to milk. If you don't trust store bought milk, heat it to whatever temperature is recommended. Just make sure it has cooled down enough to not kill the yogurt bacteria.
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