Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hippie Skillz: Making Homemade Yogurt

It must be admitted that my roommate and I are, well, "of an age" where a little probiotic help to maintain good digestive health would not be unwelcome. The problem is that we have been spending a small fortune on pre-made smoothie drinks (Cyd) and the thicker, Greek-style yogurts like Fage, Chobani, and Oikos (me). So I decided to try making my own yogurt at home. I already make my own granola and garden organically...might as well fully embrace my inner hippie! (All that's left is to start growing sprouts in the fridge! Tee hee.)

It seems odd that I had never made homemade yogurt before, but I didn't want to risk it not turning out due to inconsistent or unreliable heat sources during fermentation. I know there are all sorts of methods and devices that can work. An acquaintance of mine from when I worked at the farmer's market a few years ago told me that she fermented her yogurt during the summer months in a thermos wrapped in a blanket, tucked in a backpack, stored in a closet! But I decided to go a safer route for my first attempt and buy an inexpensive little yogurt maker that is comprised of a heated base, a dome cover, and seven little glass jars with plastic lids. The one I chose was called Total Chef and was only $18.88 from This little machine makes it EASY and pretty much foolproof, as far as I can tell. I've only made one batch, but it was a snap and turned out perfectly! Here's what I did:

My goal was to make a very thick, Greek-style yogurt like Fage (which can cost up to $2 a cup!) WITHOUT having to strain it. First, I sterilized the glass jars in boiling water. To a heavy-bottomed, stainless steel pot, I added a quart of whole milk, and because I didn't have any powdered milk on hand (often used as a thickener), I whisked in two tablespoons of dried buttermilk powder, and also a teaspoon of sugar. I heated this mixture to 180 degrees and held it there for about ten minutes. Then I stuck the whole pan into the sink with cold water halfway up the side until the temp came down to 110 (or lower).

Next, I gently stirred in the starter. I used five grams of Yogourmet dried starter, but you can use 1/4 cup of plain yogurt that either you have purchased or saved from your last homemade batch. Once the starter was blended into the milk, I filled the cups, put them in the machine, covered them with the lid, turned it on, and by morning (about nine hours), it was perfectly thick and deliciously tangy and flavorful, though not TOO tart (the buttermilk powder turned out to be an inspired substitution!). It's perfect for adding fresh fruit or a swirl of jam, or as a lower-fat alternative to mayonnaise or sour cream...or my favorite combination, paired with homemade granola! YUM!

*Follow-up (3/8/11): I finally got around to trying this recipe/method with goat's milk (just from the grocery store). I used regular powdered milk and increased the sugar to one tablespoon. It turned out GREAT with a wonderful tang, although I did have to incubate it much longer before it set up all the way. (I let it go 14 hours in the yogurt maker.) FYI...


Mandi said...

Oh my. The yogurt looks great! But, don't let Ashley see this or we will have to make it, too! We have been embracing our inner hippie for a while now by making our own whole wheat pasta and pickling things and whatever other random things Ashley finds to do.

jsgrant said...

I think, if you are truly embracing your inner hippie you need not only granola and yogurt but barefeet, a giant spliff and a goat! :)

(At least that's what I remember from the hippie commune my daddy took me to)

Hilary said...

Haha, "hippie skillz" - that cracks me up. I'm impressed that you can make Greek-style yogurt in the homemade yogurt makers, because I like mine very thick. If that's the case, I might consider buying one!

Thanks for the fab feedback on the Clinton St-style pancake recipe on my blog. I love hearing that people like that recipe!

JoyBugaloo said...

Mandi Moo: The little machine costs 20 bucks. You should try it! And if you gals are making homemade jam, that would be a perfect pairing with the yogurt.

Scott: I rarely wear shoes if I can help it, and I'd love to have some goats--especially some of those long-eared Nubians. But I don't smoke (anything). HIPPIE FAIL.

Hilary: The yogurt really did turn out very thick--without straining. LOVED the'll see a post about them here soon, giving you due credit, of course! Thanks again for the recipe!