Thursday, May 28, 2009

Homemade yogurt

Before you read this post, let me remind you that I am neither of the following:

1. A good cook. See my friends Sarah and Christi and Lili and probably others if you are looking for one of those.

2. A natural foods freak. Natural birth freak, yes. Food, not so much. I panned Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, remember? I like homemade food as much as anyone, but sometimes I have Corn Pops for breakfast, too.

That said, I am so excited about the fact that yesterday/today, I made yogurt. Did you catch that? I MADE YOGURT. I feel so empowered. Our family loves yogurt, including Magdalena on a dramatically increasing basis. Now that we can make our own, we are no longer shackled to sugary, runny, ill-flavored grocery store yogurt that costs an arm and a leg! The cheap-o brands aren't so expensive, but if you want to get the good, whole milk stuff for babies, it can get pretty pricey.

I ran across this blog post, Better Living Through Homemade Yogurt, and I decided to go for it. I won't attempt to recreate his instructions. Just go to the link and do what he says (I would add, however, that his directions seem to refer to a quart of milk and two tablespoons of starter).

Briefly, though, you get your milk (I chose whole milk because I'm doing this mostly for Magdalena):

and you heat it up. I followed the above-linked blogger's tip of improvising a double boiler, as you see here. My stove doesn't really use ultraviolet rays to cook food - it just looks that way through the camera for some reason.

After you heat it up, you let it cool, add the starter (store-bought yogurt your first time; leftover yogurt after that) and then you incubate it for a few hours. I put mine in the oven with the light on.

I should add that it was at about this point that Jeremy could restrain his mockery no more. He came in the kitchen right as I was putting it in the oven and pretty much laughed at me. He also asked me if I had to use pectin, which shows how much he knows.

When it comes out of the oven, it's kind of goopy and it looks like this:

I portioned it out into cups, covered them, and put them in the fridge to cool down and thicken up.

Then you're done! Yogurt is seriously one of the healthiest foods out there. It seems like most people in the world eat their yogurt plain, exactly as it is in the previous picture. I didn't even know yogurt existed in this form until we went to Syria. I noticed people drinking yogurt (Arian brand, if I recall correctly) everywhere and it looked so delicious. So I tried some and was surprised to find out that yogurt does not automatically taste like sweet vanilla. I thought vanilla yogurt and plain yogurt were the same thing. They're not.

So I jazzed it up a bit by pureeing some strawberries, the dregs of a four-pound flat that I had almost eaten all by myself.

And then I added it to the yogurt.

I put the rest of the puree into the freezer for future use.

The moment of truth came when I actually ate some. My friends, it was good. It was like richness mixed with healthfulness mixed with freshness mixed with frugality. Mind you, it didn't taste quite like Yoplait. It's yogurt in its purest form, and it takes a little getting used to.

But it is delicious, and cheap, too. I worked it out and this homemade yogurt cost me about two cents an ounce, as opposed to about ten cents an ounce if I bought a big tub of whole milk plain yogurt at the store. Specialized baby yogurts cost even more. I'm sure the price goes up a bit since I added fruit to mine, but I'm happy to have made healthier, more natural yogurt for my baby (and myself) for a fraction of the price of store-bought.


Crys said...

I'll have to try this out. Maybe while my whole food loving mom is in town :) Haha!

Liz Johnson said...

YOU CAN MAKE YOGURT?!?!? Why did I think that you needed a cow or goat to do this?!

I am WAY impressed. WAY WAY WAY impressed. I might have to try this myself. Wow. Kudos, man.

Bridget said...

Liz, it's not even hard. That's the great thing.

For as much as I make fun of Jeremy for thinking yogurt needed pectin, I didn't know much about the process before I tried it, either.

Fromagette said...

I've tried making yogurt with an actually yogurt maker, but never had much sucess. I'll have to try again using this method. Thanks!

Nancy said...

Andrew's always wanted to make cheese.

Just confessing. On his behalf.

This looks easier than cheese, though. Much easier. :)

Looks like you did a great job!

Laura said...

I am really impressed. When ever I see someone make something that they could just buy and have more than 1 child, I am in awe. Maybe someday when Lily isn't always wanting my ever moment of attention I will try to make yogurt too.

Eevi said...

That is really cool. You are impressive with all these new projects that you do:)

Jeanerbee said...

Oh wow, this sounds great! I dream about being a "natural foods freak" but I don't often have the energy to follow through. I'll have to try this out! I'm with Liz - I thought you had to have the cow too, lol!

Mikael said...

that looks good with the fruit added! Good job! my boys eat SOOO Much yogurt, I got through 2 big tubs a week. I am sure this would save me money... but do I have time?

Anonymous said...

Good for you! I've actually been tempted to try making yogurt, but I never simultaneously have the time and the enthusiasm to try. Your success has inspired me,though. We eat quite a bit of plain yogurt, and I'd love to save some money on it.


JosephJ said...

I have several Indian co-workers who always have a batch of yogurt going. My buddy Avinash said that a couple of years ago they killed their favorite culture, so they had to get yogurt to-go from a local indian restaurant since he'd not had much luck with growing from your ordinary dannon or yoplait. He says he doesn't like the taste as much as his old culture, but his wife likes it better.

So anyway, I made a batch this week starting from Jen's favorite yogurt just to see. It was VERY easy. I even bent the rules. (Didn't incubate warm enough overnight, then Jen found my mason jar in the oven after preheating for something else!)

Ian and I then had some fun using about 1 c. yogurt, 1 tbs sugar, 1 tbs jelly mixed and poured into popsicle trays to make my version of frozen yogurt.

Jen's still cautious though. I think it's the "You grew bacteria and you want me to eat it?" mental block.

Bridget said...

Joe, I wanted to try to make it from Activia, my favorite yogurt, but I didn't want to mess it up. Also, Activia doesn't make a plain yogurt - did you use a plain yogurt for Jen's favorite?

Tell Jen to go for it! At least it's CHEAP bacteria, unlike store stuff.


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