Yogurt has quickly made its way to the top with regards to trendy, healthy foods. With dozens of varieties -- Greek style, drinkable, soy -- and an endless list of flavors, from strawberry and lemon to key lime pie, yogurt is a mainstay in the hearts and refrigerators of many Americans. As a snack or an ingredient, yogurt is a must-have... but you can save both time and money by making your own all-natural yogurt at home.
Homemade yogurt is simple, and while the process takes about eight hours total, very little of it is hands-on time. Prepare your yogurt at night before going to bed, and let the magic happen while you sleep. When you wake up, you'll have a supply of plain organic yogurt to use as you please!
The ingredient list is short: A couple tablespoons of plain organic yogurt (after your first batch, this will come from your own supply) and a liter of organic milk. In a large Dutch oven with a lid, heat the milk over very low heat in the covered pot. Bring it to 185 degrees, then slowly bring it back down to 110 degrees, the temperature at which yogurt cultures reproduce. Add a couple tablespoons of plain yogurt and stir them into the milk. You're done!
All you need to do is keep the pot at 110 degrees for about seven hours. This is done easily either with an electric blanket wrapped around the pot, or else by leaving the pot in the oven with the oven light on.
In the morning, your yogurt will be done! A greenish liquid may have formed over the top of the yogurt solids. This is perfectly normal and safe to eat: simply stir the yogurt vigorously (do not pour this liquid off!) and store it in a container in the fridge. Homemade yogurt doesn't contain gelatin, which means that it won't be as thick as some yogurt you may be used to, but it will thicken in the fridge. When you're ready to use it, you can pour off the liquid whey that has formed on the top, or simply stir it in for a more liquidy product.
Your homemade yogurt will keep in the fridge for a week. When you're ready to make a new batch, simply reserve a few tablespoons from the old one and use them with a new liter of milk.
Uses for Your Yogurt
Plain yogurt is the perfect staple food to have on-hand. Not only can it be eaten with a spoonful of jam, sugar or honey for snack time or topped with granola for a filling breakfast, plain yogurt is also a key ingredient for many savory dishes and accompaniments.
Start by thickening your yogurt: Either strain it through a cheesecloth or leave the amount you'd like to use in an uncovered container overnight in the fridge. After this step, your options are endless.
- Combine plain yogurt, grated cucumber and grated garlic for a cooling raita to serve with spicy Indian curries, or use yogurt in our recipe for a delicious Indian salad.
- Use yogurt in place of sour cream on chilis and tacos.
- Use yogurt in baked goods like muffins, quickbreads and our Four-Grain Pancakes.
- Combine yogurt, cardamom and a little bit of sugar for a sweet Indian lassi.
- Even use yogurt as a beauty product to keep your skin looking healthy.