I think I may have read something that waxed poetic about the sheer deliciousness of homemade yogurt.
Do you know, once I made my own, I believed every word of what I had read. Quite frankly, I had tired of grocery store yogurt many years ago. I couldn't even stomach grocery store brands anymore, so I hadn't ate yogurt in a very long time.
The first spoonful of homemade yogurt was deliriously delicious.
My first foray into home yogurt making was with raw milk. I knew that most yogurt recipes required the milk to be heated to near boiling. But raw milk has highly beneficial nutrients, such as conjugated linoleic acid and friendly bacteria and enzymes, and I didn't want to destroy any of these nutrients in my yogurt-making process.
My Google search for "how to make yogurt with raw milk" took me to the Nourished Kitchen website, and since that inital search, I've found many other natural food reasons to like this website.
If you'd like to read more about making yogurt with raw milk, you can read Nourished Kitchen's post. The farm where I sourced my raw milk is quite a distance from me, so I don't always have raw milk. But that's another taste sensation for another blog post, another day.
I've also made yogurt with regular ole organic milk from the grocery store. And I've made it with a combination of milk and heavy whipping cream, which of course means more fat and calories (but yummy!) And I've made my own greek yogurt too.
Every different combination I've used has produced phenomenal, delicious yogurt.
So what are the benefits of homemade yogurt? First, the obvious: no preservatives or unnecessary additives! For the most part, you know exactly what you have put into your own yogurt. Secondly, the probiotics in your homemade yogurt will be fresher than anything you could buy in the grocery store.
Here's some yogurt making basics...
First, I bought a yogurt maker from Amazon. After much research, I decided on the Euro Cuisine YM80 Yogurt Maker. I liked the fact my yogurt would be in 7 individual jars, and that these jars are glass, not plastic.
Since that initial purchase, I think I might like a 2 quart yogurt maker better, only because lately I've been dumping all 7 jars into a large sieve to strain out the whey and have a greek yogurt consistency. No sense having 7 separate jars when it all gets lumped together in the end anyway!
Ingredient-wise, all you need is milk and yogurt starter. Your options for yogurt starter are freeze dried packets you can buy at Amazon (and probably elsewhere), or about 6 oz plain yogurt which you can get at the grocery store. Be sure the plain yogurt you choose for starter is as organic and simple as possible, with live cultures. Check out the ingredient label before you buy!
Once you've made your yogurt using the instructions that come with your yogurt maker, you can add all kinds of fruits and/or flavorings. Personally, I just add a wee bit of vanilla and some stevia or agave nectar sweetener to each individual serving as I eat it. My goal is to keep it as natural as possible. Sometimes I throw in a few fresh strawberries. It's so awesomely delicious.
Next, I wanted to try to thicken up my yogurt more, so I bought some cheesecloth and after I made the yogurt, I let it sit for an additional 5 hours or so in a metal sieve lined with the cheesecloth over a bowl.
Basically, what you are doing is straining out most of the whey, so your yogurt will have a very thick, greek-like texture. This is my new favorite yogurt. Some people call this "yogurt cheese".
Oh, and all that whey you'll have in your bowl? It's good for a LOT of different things, and I just happen to have another link to help you out with that.... check out The Prairie Homestead for 16 Ways to Use Your Whey.
I don't have a specific recipe here for yogurt because it's so easy, and quite frankly, you can find recipes all over the world wide web, especially for thermophilic (heated) yogurts. And if you buy a yogurt maker, you'll get instructions on making yogurt with your yogurt maker.
But perhaps you want even easier yogurt recipes, such as Matsoni or Viili, which are mesophilic (room-temperature) yogurts and do not require a yogurt maker for temperature regulation. I haven't tried these yet, but I'd like to try the Matsoni yogurt soon.
Still on my yogurt wish list: Cuisipro Donvier Yogurt Cheese Maker (easier to make Greek yogurt with one of these) and The Book Of Yogurt by Sonia Uvezian.
Any questions? Fire 'em at me, and I'll do my best to answer. Or maybe you've already made your own yogurt and have advice for me - tell me!
I'll remember to snap a few photos the next time I have a yogurt making session, which will be soon. I miss my fresh yogurt!
Good grief... I didn't realize I had this much to say about yogurt!!!