It is easy to make yogurt and customize it to your own taste. Yogurt can be used in many dishes, including as a drink, a dessert, a sauce or a dip. Yogurt is a nutritionally dense food that has been made for thousands of years. Yogurt is eaten all over the world and has many health benefits.
The Nutrition of Yogurt
Yogurt is an excellent source of protein and calcium. It is considered a good nutritional alternative to milk if you are lactose intolerant, as it contains much less lactose. The live bacteria present in yogurt, particularly homemade yogurt, may also be able to boost your immune system, and women who eat yogurt tend to have a lower incidence of yeast infections. Yogurt is a good source of iodine, phosphorus and B vitamins. Many commercial brands add sugar and salt, but by making your own yogurt at home, you can decide exactly what goes into it.
Making Your Own Yogurt
You’ll need low fat milk, a large pot, a food thermometer, a cooler, containers for the yogurt and some plain yogurt with live cultures. Keep the yogurt out of the fridge during the first few steps to bring it to room temperature.
Heat the milk in the pot while stirring constantly. Clip the thermometer onto the side of the pot and keep a close watch on it in order to prevent the milk from scalding. You should heat the milk to 180-185° F. This will kill any other bacteria that may have been in the milk.
Once the milk reaches 185° F, either cool it in ice water or wait for it to cool naturally. While waiting for it to cool, you can sterilize your yogurt containers by dipping them in boiling water.
When the milk reaches 110° F, add 2-3 tablespoons of live yogurt (or yogurt starter) to it. Stir it in well. Pour your milk mixture into the sterilized containers. Now put the containers into a cooler, along with a heat source like hot water bottles or a heating pad. Try to maintain it at approximately 110° F for 5-7 hours. Then, stir it well and refrigerate overnight.
Customizing Your Yogurt
The longer you leave your yogurt at 110° F, the thicker and tangier it will become, so you can experiment until it is as you prefer it. You might also prefer to pour out the whey, which is the runny liquid that tends to form on top of yogurt. Pouring it out will thicken your yogurt. Finally, add honey, chopped fruit or oat bran to yogurt for a breakfast dish, or add your yogurt to cereal or pancakes for a nutritional boost. Alternatively, you can mix in some sea salt and herbs to create a low fat dip for vegetables, or freeze your yogurt to make a low fat dessert.
Yogurt is a versatile and nutritious addition to your diet and can easily be made at home. Making your own yogurt is usually cheaper than purchasing it at the grocery store, and allows you to customize it as you prefer. Yogurt can provide health benefits for the whole family.