After many failed attempts and awkward setups I finally found the easiest, neatest and most successful way to make homemade yogurt. And as my mission is to create a healthier home for me and my family, and help you do the same, I will share exactly how to do that.
But first, why bother culturing milk into yogurt?
Let’s let Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price foundation, in her informative cookbook: Nourishing Traditions, tell us:
“Like the process of sprouting grains, fermentation of milk results in numerous beneficial changes. Fermentation breaks down casein, or milk protein, one of the most difficult proteins to digest. Culturing restores many of the enzymes destroyed during pasteurization including lactase, which helps digest lactose or milk sugar, and numerous enzymes, which help the body absorb calcium and other minerals. Lactase produced during the culturing process allows many people who are sensitive to fresh milk to tolerate fermented milk products. Both vitamin B and vitamin C content of milk increase during fermentation.” (Nourishing Traditions page 81)
That in itself is very compelling. By why not buy yogurt at the supermarket?
First you can save money by making it on your own. From my calculations the cost of the ingredients is only about 30% of the price of a premade product.
Quality control: You get to decide what the ingredients are. You can choose the best milk I have access to. You can avoid stabilizers and thickening agents often found in store bought yogurt.
Freshness: what is better than yogurt that is so fresh it hasn’t even been refrigerated yet?!
Customization: I like thick and creamy yogurt with a high fat content. So I use full fat milk and extra cream. If you prefer low fat, you can do that too.
Ready to try? The first thing you’ll need is an heirloom mesophiloc starter. Say what?! Let’s go through that:
Starter: This is the active ingredient that is full of microbes that turn your milk into yogurt. You need to add a starter to each batch. You can buy starter powder or use yogurt from a previous batch.
Heirloom: This is a kind of yogurt that can be used as a starter over and over. That means that you reserve a spoonful of yogurt to use as your next batch starter, and you don’t need to use a bought starter once you have an heirloom yogurt going.
Mesophilic: This is a kind of yogurt starter that can ferment at room temperature. Many yogurts need to be kept at a warm temperature for the hours that the fermentation is going. What necessitates the use of an oven/ dehydrator/ incubator etc. a mesophilic yogurt strain will do the same job at room temp.
Where do you find a starter like this?
You can ask around in a fermentation enthusiasts group if someone can give you a little jar of their yogurt for use as a starter.
You can buy a dehydrated powdered starter to make your first batch and then you’ll have your heirloom yogurt to use. I bought mine at culturesforhealth.
25 fluid ounce (700 ml) full fat milk
10 ounce cream
¼ cup heirloom yogurt
Mix ingredients together with a blend stick
Place in a clean jar
Cover with a cheese cloth/ airlock lid/ loosely fitted lid
Allow to ferment for 12-24 hours
Check to see if it is done by tilting the jar. If the content moves like a liquid it’s not done. If it moves as one piece away from the edge of the jar it is ready.
Store in the fridge, it’s good for about two weeks.
Remember to reserve 1 tablespoon to a ¼ cup for the next batch.