Saturday, January 16, 2010

Yogurt 101

Thomas and I love yogurt. Switching over to homemade came from two reasons -- spending about $8 each week for us for the little cups + seeing so many preservatives and sugar, even in organic yogurt. Knowing that I have a penchant for sugar and that could definitely run in the family - I tried my hand at making yogurt.

Homemade yogurt is so easy. All it takes is time. And milk. And an awesome tool which helps the milk process into yogurt with very little oversight.

The yogurt that is produced is unsweetened, much like tart plain yogurt with the consistency of greek yogurt. You can trick it out however you'd like -- and with the Donvier, you can even trick out the individual cups as you make it.

I usually start a batch in the morning, while I'm making breakfast and cleaning up the kitchen. With the "cooking" time throughout the day, it's usually ready about 11 hours later. I let it chill overnight in the fridge, and 8 containers of fresh yogurt are ready for the next morning!

Below is what I'd use to start a batch of nonfat yogurt (for me). You'll see nonfat milk, dry nonfat milk powder, and 2 measuring cups. For Thomas's whole fat yogurt, I simply use whole milk and no milk powder. (The milk powder helps the nonfat milk become a firmer yogurt, since there is no fat in the process)

Add 1/4 cup of nonfat milk powder to one quart of nonfat milk, and stir to mix it in.

Pour the milk into a saucepan and heat over medium-low heat. I use a digital thermometer to keep my eye on the temperature so I don't have to watch it as much. You want the milk to just reach boiling (185°) before you remove it from the heat. Stir occasionally. We've got about 30° to go.

It's ready! I give the milk one last stir and pour it back into the Pyrex measuring cup to let it cool.

The Donvier Yogurt Maker comes with a special thermometer that you just place in the milk. When the temp drops to the "add starter" level, you simply add the starter of yogurt to the mix. For the first batch I made, I added half a pack of yogurt culture. Ever since then, I have just used a few tablespoons of the last cup of yogurt from the previous batch. (You can use a commercially made yogurt as well to start, but it must be plain flavored and have bacterial cultures in it).

Still not ready.

Once it drops to the "add starter" level (right around 110°), I add the starter and mix it in. I use a whisk to break up the yogurt clumps in the milk to help smooth it out.

Simply pour the milk into the cups, put the caps on, and place in the yogurt maker. Set the timer for 10 hours. You can set it for longer for firmer yogurt, and shorter for softer yogurt.

Once the timer goes off, move the yogurt to the fridge and it's ready to go a few hours later. I've already paid for the cost of the machine with the savings from making it. Now, the only cost is the milk. I make an effort to find the freshest milk when I buy it, so one gallon of milk for $1.99 (or 99 cents last week!) can make several weeks worth of yogurt. For the plain and simple yogurt, it works out to about 4 cents - 7 cents per serving.

Thomas loves yogurt itself -- he could eat plain whole milk yogurt and be happy as a clam all day long. He actually starts grunting when he sees the yogurt cup. :)

I love to add things. Most commonly, I add agave nectar, berries or granola. Other good stuff to add?
  • jam or jelly
  • applesauce + raisins + cinnamon
  • whole grain cereal
  • fresh fruits
  • honey
  • vanilla extract

The yogurt itself can be used as is, or into other recipes. It makes an awesome base for dips and sauces as well.

You'll love it.

1 comment:

Karen said...

THANKS for this post! I am ordering a Donvier machine today and now I feel like I'll know what I'm doing... Do you add flavor before or after you make the yogurt? I can't wait to try it!

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