I have almost always been a yogurt lover. Even in my 20’s, I would eat yogurt almost every single day. When I used to think of making my own yogurt, I was mystified. Why would people do this when you can just buy it at the store? This was at the same time that I’d buy the low fat artificially sweetened yogurt in the small containers. Now I realize that those little containers that are advertised to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet, aren’t healthy at all.
I was just giving myself a dose of powdered milk and artificial sweeteners. I may not have even received any good ‘live cultures’ because they would pasteurize the milk AFTER they add the cultures, which reduces the good bacteria in the yogurt because they are heating the milk up to pasteurize it.
This is when I switched to buying organic whole yogurt that says on the label that it’s cultured after pasteurization. I also made sure that no powdered milk was in the ingredient list (some organic yogurt still has powdered milk in it, including Nancy’s brand).
Why is powdered milk so bad, you ask? Well, I was surprised too. And I was even more surprised to learn that the dairy industry regularly adds powdered milk to nonfat skim, 1% and 2% milk, but they don’t have to list it on the label (I’m not sure why). Powdered milk contains oxidized cholesterol, which can cause heart disease, not whole, real milk. For more information on this subject, please go here.
Using a Yogurt Maker
If you have a yogurt culture starter powder, you can make yogurt on your countertop with a yogurt maker. This is super handy but you do have to buy the yogurt maker.
Here are some alternatives to eating yogurt in the small containers:
- I now mix my yogurt as I eat it. If I’m packing a lunch I have 8 ounce containers with lids to use.
- Sometimes I mix yogurt with homemade applesauce. The applesauce that I made during the summer is so sweet (naturally from the fruit) that I don’t need to add any more sweetener at all.
- I like a dollop of homemade strawberry jam in my yogurt. Other jams or jellies would be good too. This makes it easy to control the sweetness of your own yogurt, depending on what you want that day.
- A good breakfast: soaked granola over yogurt with just a drizzle (teaspoon or so) of grade B maple syrup.
- Use yogurt where you’d use sour cream. I like a dollop of plain yogurt on my curried lentils, it cuts the heat in the curry and the sourness goes well with the lentils.
- My girls love smoothies, which are a great way to get yogurt into kids. They blend frozen berries, plain yogurt, a raw egg or two, some vanilla and Rapadura or maple syrup as sweetener. If I’m there I will also drizzle in some cold pressed flax oil to give them some additional omega 3 fatty acids. This is their most favorite after school snack.
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- 1/4 – 1/2 cup good quality commercial whole milk plain yogurt, or yogurt from a previous batch
- 1 quart whole milk, can be pasteurized, but preferably non-homogenized
- a candy thermometer
If you’re using raw milk please see alternative directions below…
The final product will be thinner than commercial yogurt, but is easy to make. Gently heat the milk to 180 degrees. Stir in the yogurt and place in a shallow glass, enamel or stainless steel container. Cover the container and place in a warm oven (about 150 degrees, or a gas oven with pilot light) overnight. In the morning, transfer to the refrigerator. Throughout the day you may want to drain some of the excess whey off the yogurt.
If you’re using raw milk: place the quart of milk in double boiler and heat to 110 degrees. Remove 2 tablespoons of the warm milk and add it to 1 tablespoon yogurt (commercial or from the previous batch). Stir well and pour into a quart sized wide-mouth mason jar. Add a further 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons yogurt to the jar and stir well. Add the rest of the warmed milk. Cover tightly and place in a dehydrator set at 95 degrees for 8-12 hours (in your turned off oven with the oven light on may also work). Transfer to the refrigerator.
Photo courtesy of KirrilyRobert on Flickr
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