Monday, September 17, 2012
Homemade Vanilla Yogurt
Ahh, yogurt, great with fruit or even just by itself. Full of good bacteria and loaded with great nutrients. One dietary need that makes digestion easier, as well as weight loss. It regulates metabolism and generally leads to a healthier you. As adding probiotics to your diet often will. The only problem is that the yogurt you buy in stores is either expensive, full of bad stuff like high fructose corn syrup and preservatives, or both! Making it at home ensures that great benefit, on a budget and without the nasty stuff that almost negates the benefit you would receive.
I have been experimenting with several methods of making yogurt for quite some time and have developed a method that works for me. Experiment with this and other recipes to find what works best for you! The benefits are definitely worth it!
Really you can make whatever kind of yogurt you want with this recipe, but be aware that leaving out the honey (or maple syrup) makes very sour yogurt!
To begin you will need:
A large pot for sanitizing jars and later incubating the yogurt (I use the bottom half of my pressure cooker)
A sauce pan of pot large enough to hold half a gallon of milk, (I use a 6 quart pot, but really you could use a smaller pot, I make 2 quarts (half a gallon) at a time)
a thermometer that will measure as low as 100 degrees Fahrenheit and up to at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit (I am told you can use your own judgement, but this really is much easier with the thermometer)
2- quart sized mason jars or 5- 2 cup mason jars to store your yogurt. (you can use other storage means, however glass seems to work best as you can sanitize it easily and it can be used for everything, incubation and storage)
1/2 gallon of milk
1/2 cup to 1 cup honey or maple syrup
1/2 ounce of vanilla
Yogurt Starter (can be either freeze dried starter like I used today or 1/2 cup of plain cultured yogurt either from a previous batch or from the store)
About an hour and the ability to check on your yogurt throughout the day.
Put your milk, honey or maple syrup (sweetened to your preference), and vanilla into your saucepot and turn the temp to medium- medium high.
Keep stirring your milk and check the temperature often, it needs to be 180 degrees, at this temp it will start to form a film on the sides of the pot and it is almost boiling.
In the meantime, fill your incubation pot with hot water and place in your jars. Bring this pot to a rapid boil. (I usually put my lids in as well, but this isn't necessary as you aren't actually canning these) Boil your jars for about 5 minutes and then drain the jars (not the pot) and turn them upside down on a towel to dry. Turn the heat off on your incubation pot (you may even need to add a little cold water before incubating your yogurt).
Once your yogurt reaches 180 degrees, Turn off the heat and remove 1-2 cup of milk from the pot. Divide the remainder between your incubation jars. Now all of these jars and your removed milk needs to cool to about 120 degrees.
At 120 degrees you will mix in your starter. Take your 1/2 cup of yogurt or 10 ml of freeze dried starter and add to the milk you set aside. Don't mix this too much! you will just need to stir enough to wet the freeze dried or mix chunks into the milk. I usually use a smaller mason jar and cap it and shake gently once or twice.
You will then divide this milk between your incubation jars. Make sure there are a few chunks of starter in each jar.
Cap your incubation jars and turn them upside down (and back up) twice.
Make sure your incubation pot's water is at 120 degrees or less. Too hot and the cultures will deactivate and you will end up with soupy yogurt. Once to temp, put your yogurt in the incubation pot.
You will now leave it there, alone. . don't disturb your yogurt for several hours. You will want to periodically check the water to be sure the temp stays in between 85-110 degrees. You can turn the stove on to heat the water when needed. Keep the water warm for the entire incubation time which is anywhere from 4 hours up to 18 hours, I used to leave it over night, but the water would cool making the time pointless, I now leave it for 8-12 hours depending on my schedule.
That's it, once your incubation is done you should have thick creamy yogurt, better than you could get in the store! Put it in your fridge and enjoy it!