I became very intrigued by yogurt when I read Michael Pollan’s book entitled, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. One of the topics was fermentation, the process of transforming food using microbes. In addition to transforming simple ingredients into delicious foods, these microbes may also offer a health benefit themselves. In the book, Michael Pollan states:
Medical researchers are coming around to the startling conclusion that, in order to be healthy, people need more exposure to microbes, not less; and that one of the problems with the so-called Western diet —besides all the refined carbohydrates and fats and novel chemicals in it— is the absence from it of live-culture foods. The theory is that these foods have a crucial role to play in nourishing the vast community of microbes living inside us, which in turn plays a much larger role in our overall health and well-being than we ever realized.
Pollan, Michael (2013-04-23). Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation (p. 311). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition
I had been eating Greek yogurt for quite some time, but I didn’t like the taste- I had to get the flavored ones to deal with the sourness. After reading the book, and being told by some friends that making yogurt was quite easy, I decided to give it a try. It turned out well- it was delicious and very creamy without any sugar or any other additives. I could also make it with organic whole milk- that way I wasn’t resigned to eating the 0% fat Greek yogurt that was sold in the store. It was also cheaper to make than to buy organic yogurt.
I eventually decided to buy an incubator to make yogurt production more efficient (warmth is necessary for faster production, and my kitchen was generally pretty cold). I purchased the Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker. I wish I had paid the extra money for the one with the automatic shut-off feature that shut off the incubator after a certain amount of time.
I’ve added below the recipe for making yogurt with or without a yogurt maker. It’s pretty simple! And a great way to add healthy fermented dairy to your diet (see the benefit of fermented dairy in my previous post).
- 7 cups of milk (I like to use any brand of organic whole milk)
- 1 cup of yogurt with live cultures (I like Stonyfield Farms Organic Plain Greek Yogurt)
- Heat the 7 cups of milk until the milk starts to rise up the sides of the pot.
- Remove milk from heat and let cool to lukewarm. I test the milk by dropping a few drops of the milk over my wrist to see if it’s not too hot. If it gets a little colder than lukewarm, it should be okay.
- Strain the milk through a strainer- there usually is a film that forms.
- Combine the milk and the 1 cup of yogurt in a bowl- mix with a whisk.
- Then pour yogurt into either the glass bottles that came with yogurt maker or another container; you can also leave it in the bowl.
- Put the plastic cover on top of the yogurt maker and turn it on. Leave it for about 8 hours. If you have no yogurt maker, cover the top of your container (I put a plate on top of the bowl, or you can use cheesecloth) and put a warm towel around your container. You can also just slightly warm up your oven (make sure it’s not hot and that no one turns it on afterward) and put your covered container in there (make sure everything is oven safe). Leave it in for about 12 hours.
Then voila, your yogurt should be done! Store it in the fridge- keeps for about a week or two at least. Enjoy!