Sunday, April 12, 2009

Recipe: Home-made Yogourt

Okay, I'm almost embarassed to put this under "Recipes" because there's nothing to it, but I realize that most people like to have detailed guidelines for food preparation. So, here goes.

Home-made Yogourt

Milk (for the sake of showing proportion, 1 L)
Plain yogourt (for the same reason, 1/4 cup)

Pour milk into a container that has a lid. Add yogourt and stir well until smooth - a whisk works best for me. Put the lid on, stick it in your oven with the oven light on and close the door. Don't accidentally turn on your oven with the yogourt inside!

Notes on ingredients: You can use any kind of milk (or cream, or combination) for this, different fat contents will result in a more or less creamy yogourt. If you are using unpasteurized milk, however, you will need to scald it first to kill any bacteria. For your first batch you should buy plain yogourt that has active bacterial culture listed in the ingredients - this is true for almost all plain yogourt. Yogourt that is specifically labelled "probiotic" (while misleading, pretty much all yogourt is probiotic) has the most active culture in it. If you prefer a thicker yogourt, you can add milk powder to your mixture, according to taste.

Notes on preparation: The yogourt needs to be kept at a warm temperature for the culture to reproduce, but not so warm that you will kill it. The ideal temperature is about 110°F, which my oven is roughly at with the light on and the element off. Other people use a warm radiator or a yogourt maker (which is just a glorified thermos). It will take anywhere from 5 - 24 hours, depending on the amount of active culture present and how thick you like your yogourt. The longer you leave it, the tangier your finished product. Your yogourt will look thinner than you expect, but when you refrigerate it you will find it thickens up as the whey separates a bit. You can let it drain through a doubled tea-towel or coffee filter to remove some whey if you want it thicker still. (If you drain it until all the whey is removed, what you will have left is a basic curd, which can be salted and pressed into cheese.)

If you don't like your yogourt plain, add sweetener and fruit to taste. The best part is that for about $1.00 CAD worth of ingredients I get to enjoy something that would cost me about $3 at the grocery store, plus gas. Now go make your own!

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