Cultured dairy products are so good for you. Yogurt happens to be one of my favorite cultured products. Milk contains lactic acid producing bacteria (the good guys) and when they are allowed to do their thing, delicious cultured dairy products are the end result. These bacteria break down milk sugar (lactose) and milk protein (casein). Many people have difficulty digesting either or both of these items. These same individuals may do well with cultured dairy due to the great work of the helpful bacteria. Other benefits of cultured dairy include increased levels of vitamin B and Vitamin C and good bacteria for our digestive tracts. These bacteria help us to fully digest our foods as well as guarding against the bad guy pathogens.
Homemade yogurt is pretty easy to do once you get the hang of it. This recipe was developed through trial and error, but has been coming out consistently well for the past several months. Alex and I only use raw milk, but this recipe could be made exactly the same way with pasteurized milk. I highly recommend searching out a source of raw milk as it is so much better for you! See here for details: The Weston A. Price Foundation and A Campaign For Real Milk.
Extra items you need for a great batch of yogurt are a heavy stock pot (copper bottom or enameled cast iron) with a lid, an oven with an inside light, a meat or candy thermometer, and a large beach towel or blanket.
*Updated on 7/8/2011*
- 1/2 gallon of raw, grass fed, organic milk
- 1/3 cup of raw, grass fed, organic cream (optional)
- 1/2 cup plain, whole milk yogurt (from the store or reserved from a previous batch, this is your “starter”)
What to do:
Pour the milk and the optional cream into the stock pot. Place the thermometer in the milk and gently warm on the stove, stirring occasionally until the temperature reaches 185-190 degrees.
Remove the stock pot from the heat and allow the milk to cool until it reaches 110-115 degrees, stirring occasionally.
In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and a small amount of the cooled milk (about 1/2 cup) until well mixed. Add the yogurt mixture to the stock pot and stir well to incorporate the yogurt throughout the milk.
Place the lid on the stock pot and wrap it up with the towel. Place the stock pot in the oven with the interior light on. I like to put the stock pot right near the light source. Close the door and come back 24 hours later. You will have beautiful, homemade yogurt!
Store the yogurt in the refrigerator and remember to save about 1/2 cup for your next batch of homemade goodness!
My favorite serving suggestions:
- fresh berries
- fresh figs
- homemade apple butter (no sugar added)
- crispy nuts
- a dash of vanilla
Yield 8 one cup servings.