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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How to Make Yogurt (Regular, Greek and Frozen)

Yogurt with honey and grapes, our favorite! Notice that we didn't
even bother to drain off all the whey so my yogurt is a little
thin which is exactly how we like it.
We make yogurt once a week and eat a bowl of it every day for breakfast. We love it. :) It helps our tummies work properly and we save a ton of money by making it ourselves. It also allows us to avoid all the artificial flavors and sweeteners that are in them.

What we really love about homemade yogurt is the rich creamy texture. The yogurts sold in America (even the organic varieties) have starch or other thickeners that give them a pasty texture. It reminds us of eating glue which we claim to have given up in the 3rd grade. Or by high school. We're not telling. :) But the point is... We like it to be creamy and not chocked full of funky stuff we can't pronounce. Also, we like to have control over how tangy it is. If we're using it with fruit or sprinkling powdered sugar or honey in it, we like it tangy (aged). But if we're going to make frozen yogurt out of it, we prefer it to be very bland (not aged) so that it's a terrific neutral base. (Store bought yogurt is too tangy and pasty to make frozen yogurt out of.)

The best part is that it's so simple! The only special equipment you need is a thermometer and a heating pad that doesn't automatically cycle off. (We got ours at CVS drug store for $8.99.)

You can make it with special yogurt starter ordered online or from Whole Foods, but we just use a good quality store-bought yogurt with live active cultures as a starter. The most excellent results we've had are from the Vanilla flavored Activia brand yogurt.

You can use any kind of milk you want for this, organic, ultra-pasteurized, pasteurized, raw*, whole, skim, etc. we find that skim tastes too flat and whole milk has a greasy aftertaste. Even though we could drink cream right from the carton, our preference for yogurt is 2% milk.

  • 1 gallon of 2% Milk
  • 1/2 container of Activia Vanilla Yogurt

  1. Set the yogurt on the counter so it comes to room temperature while preparing the milk.
    Set out the yogurt so it can come to room temperature
    while preparing the milk.
  2. Place the heating pad into a cool oven and turn it to low.
  3. Pour the milk into a pot with a lid but do not put the lid on yet.
  4. Set the thermometer in the milk and turn the heat to medium low. Let the milk heat up to 180F degrees, stirring occasionally. (This step denatures the proteins and allows them to be turned into yogurt by the bacteria. *If using raw milk, maintain the temperature at 180F for 30 minutes to ensure the milk is safe.)
    As the milk gets close to 180F, it'll begin to look like
    the foam on top of a latte.
  5. Remove from heat and let the milk cool to 110F. If you'd like to speed the cooling process, you can place the pot in a sink with cold water. Stir before checking the temperature to ensure you are getting an accurate reading.
  6. Stir in about 1/2 the container of yogurt.
  7. Put the lid on the pot and place on the heating pad in the oven over night.
    Place in a cool oven on a heating pad set to low
  8. The next morning, you'll have a creamy delicious mild flavored yogurt, perfect for most people and especially for frozen yogurt. (If you want it to have a stronger tang, leave the lid on it and let it sit on the counter for another 24 hours).
    This is how it looks right out of the oven in the morning.
  9. Refrigerate until cool, then eat. The yogurt will last about 2 weeks in the fridge.
Because the yogurt doesn't have thickeners added to it, you will notice some yellow liquid - that's the whey. It's the same thing protein powders are made out of. You can stir it into the yogurt or pour it off - your choice. It's extra protein, so we just leave it on ours.

Yogurt with honey and grapes, my favorite! We didn't
even bother to drain off all the whey so my yogurt is a little
thin which is exactly how we like it.

Greek Yogurt:

If you want to make Greek Yogurt, lay a layer of cheese cloth into a sieve and add the yogurt. Drain out most of the whey, then place the sieve over a bowl in the refrigerator to drain the rest out for a few hours. Put the yogurt into a new bowl and add just enough of the drained whey to get the texture you want.

Frozen Yogurt:

If you want to make frozen yogurt, drain all the whey off as in Greek Yogurt, but do not add any of it back in. Stir in sugar (or honey or maple syrup, etc) to your taste (about a cup) and put in the ice cream maker or freeze, stirring every half hour until firm.

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