Simple, All Natural, Homemade Yogurt. Plastic-free, Additive-free and Sugar-free.

 

Yogurt is considered a health food.  Yogurt contains acidophilus, a lactobacteria. Among other things, acidophilus aids in digestion, helps maintain a healthy colon, can decrease yeast infections, and helps lower cholesterol.  Unfortunately, most yogurts contain sugars, fillers, artificial flavors, preservatives, color or thickeners.  For example.  Yoplait Yogurt, Made by General Mills, contains:

  • Vanilla: Skim milk, sugar, cream, milk and whey proteins, modified corn starch, active bacterial cultures, gelatine, natural and artificial flavours, locust bean gum, pectin, concentrated lemon juice, colour, vitamin D3, potassium sorbate.
  • 14 grams sugar per 100 gram serving. (that’s 3.5 tsp. of sugar).

Some types of vanilla yogurt have as much as 30 grams of sugar per serving.  That’s over 7 tsp. of sugar!  Many have ingredients such as gelatin, locust bean gum, corn starch and pectin to thicken.    And of course artificial color and flavour, and preservatives.

Another fact about store-bought yogurt that has been nagging me for years is that they are all sold in plastic containers.  I have been fighting a constant battle with plastic and this is just another example of how plastic is quietly ruling our lives.  With recent studies indicating health risks from BPA in plastics (as well as plastics made from other chemicals) I can’t help but think that “good, healthy yogurt” isn’t so good or healthy after all.

I started making my own yogurt about a year and a half ago.  I haven’t bought yogurt since.  With only 2 or 3 ingredients (depending on what product you want) this recipe is healthy, safe and easy.  SOOOOO easy.  So easy, in fact, that I felt silly I hadn’t listened to my mother years ago and made it back then.  So easy, that it takes 10 minutes at the end of the day to start it, and you have fresh, natural yogurt ready for breakfast.  I use either my own goat’s milk, or organic milk I buy in glass bottles.  This avoids plastic entirely.

Tools you will need:

  • thermometer (candy style, or digital will work)
  • large pot
  • roasting pan
  • 5 x 500 ml mason jars (1/2 quart)
  • whisk
  • oven

Greek Style, thick, creamy yogurt
Ingredients
1 L milk (1 quart)
1 L 18% table cream (1 quart)
2 tbsp. plain yogurt (from a previous batch, or store-bought)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 105F.  If your oven doesn’t maintain heat at that temperature, turn to 350 for 2 minutes and then turn off.  Check temperature.  Make sure your oven temperature is less than 115F before you put your yogurt in it.
  2. Pour milk and cream into pot.  Heat until temperature reaches 112F.  Remove immediately from heat.  Once you are sure the temperature is steady at 112 (under 115, anyway!) stir in yogurt with a whisk.  Whisk well.
  3. Pour into 500 ml. sized (1 pint) mason jars.
  4. Place filled jars in a roasting pan that has about 3 inches of warm water in it.
  5. Place roaster in warm oven.  (No warmer than 115F)
  6. Leave in oven overnight or for 8 to 12 hours.
  7. Remove from oven and serve warm, or refrigerate and serve cold.

Low Fat Yogurt
Ingredients
2 L (2 quarts) skim milk
3/4 cup skim milk powder
2 tbsp. yogurt.

Follow above directions except add skim milk powder to milk while heating and whisk very well, until dissolved.  The milk powder thickens the yogurt.  Without it, the yogurt will be quite runny.

Low Fat Yogurt without milk powder
Ingredients

2 L (2 quarts) skim milk
2 tbsp. yogurt

Follow above directions.  This will make a runnier yogurt.  You can strain it through cheese cloth, though, and this makes a thicker yogurt.  Save the whey for baking with!

Tips

  1. Some people use a heating pad instead of an oven.  In this case, you could make the yogurt in a pot, cover with a thick towel,. and place on heating pad for 8 to 12 hours.
  2. Some people make yogurt with a crock pot.  I haven’t tried it but here are the instructions.
  3. You can pasteurize your milk first if you like, by bringing the milk to 165F and then allowing it to cool to 112F before stirring in yogurt.  I see no reason to pasteurize if you are using pasteurized milk.  I don’t pasteurize my goat’s milk anyway :)
  4. It is important to NOT stir in the yogurt until the temperature is less than 115F or you will risk killing the bacteria and you will end up with a product that is NOT yogurt.  If this happens, don’t throw it out!  Use it as you would use buttermilk in a recipe.
  5. Flavor with vanilla and honey, maple syrup, fruit, jam or ???

Enjoy!  Let me know how you love your homemade yogurt!!!

This post has been linked to Whole Foods Wednesday #56, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #31 and The MorrisTribe’s Homesteader Blog Carnival #11.