so, at the expense of sounding like a jerk for tooting my own horn: i made my own yogurt. and that makes me awesome.
i had been obsessing over making yogurt for a few months now, nagging my husband (as i often do) about needing a yogurt maker. oh, our lives will be so much better with a yogurt maker. we will save hundreds of dollars! we will win the lottery, we will be happier in life and marriage if we have homemade yogurt at our disposal on a daily basis. our skin will glow, we will have increased energy, and a general lust for life. the usual naive excitement.
a yogurt maker is relatively inexpensive, starting around $40 for a decent model. the problem is that we are trying to afford a new home purchase right now, which costs a lot of money. needless to say, we are pinching pennies right now, and have even put off buying our meat grinder attachment for our kitchen-aid.
i was, however, lucky enough to inherit an unwanted ronco food dehydrator from a friend a few weeks ago. never used. what came with the “machine” was a “cookbook” with recipes ranging from beef jerkey to fruit roll-ups to yogurt. you’ve seen the infomercial.
now, i know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. what an stupid sounding way to make yogurt. don’t judge me. i was desperate.
and guess what? it freakin’ worked!
basically, in order to incubate, you’re just keeping your milk at a warm, steady temperature for a period of time, and the food dehydrator provides that environment. now, it isn’t a perfect machine, and it does get a little warm. so you’ll need to keep an eye on things. i also recommend doing this in a breezy area so the warm air circulates evenly about the inside of the machine.
my yogurt was delicious! i made 2 very successful batches, the first with a started from stonyfield farms organic full fat plain yogurt. i didn’t strain the first batch, but i did strain the second because brian likes greek style yogurt. i purchased the finest quality milk i could get my hands on here, which is full fat and barely pasteurized. i wish i could get raw milk here, but i can’t. i guess you could use 2% or some other type of milk, but why? fat is good for you. and it tastes wonderful. yes, it does look very involved and complicated, but hear me out. it’s deceptively easy. read the directions, follow the rules, and you’ll have easy and tasty yogurt.
i really loved the simple tart flavor of the dense, creamy yogurt. i can’t brag enough. i always stir in a little all fruit jam and some berries, and top it with nuts. this (besides a big-ass salad) is my favorite lunch, and a super healthy one, too. calcium, protein, fat, antioxidants, fiber, probiotic… what more does a body need?
4 cups good quality milk
2 tbsp good quality plain yogurt -do be sure it says it contains bacteria on the packaging, or it won’t culture
small jars with lids to put on the top shelf of your food dehydrator
first and foremost, be sure your jars are super-duper clean and dry. plug in your food dehydrator.
set your 2 tbsp of yogurt out on the counter-top in a big clean bowl to come up to room temp. i did this in a large pyrex for ease of pouring later on.
keeping a very close watch, bring your 4 cups of milk GENTLY up to 210f., just before it boils, keeping it well stirred. once it reaches 210f, turn the heat off. keep milk well stirred, and let milk cool to 112f.
slowly stir 112f milk into bowl with the room-temp yogurt. stir for a minute or so to be sure that everything mixes in nicely.
pour evenly into prepared jars, close them, and place in the top rack of the food dehydrator. incubate for 4-6 hours. check after 4 hours by gently agitating one of the jars to see if it has a yogurt-like consistency. it will be a little thin before you put it in the fridge.
i checked the yogurt during incubation after 4 hours by taking it’s temperature. once the temperature reached 116, i took them out and set them on the counter for half an hour to cool down a little. you want to keep them between 112-118 for this 4-6 hours, so do keep an eye on them during incubation.
once you are satisfied with your incubation time, stir all of the little yogurts into a large container. place yogurt into the fridge for a few hours. if the yogurt is too thin for your liking, you may strain with a cheesecloth for half an hour to an hour. if you do much longer than this, you will have cheese. so don’t get carried away.
oh, and note from my friend, josh: be sure that you don’t get carried away with stirring the yogurt. over-agitating will break the whey away from the yogurt, keeping it runny and strange. once you dump it over the cheesecloth, let it sit. resist pushing it through.