Yogurt is one of the delicious treats you can easily make at home. It does not take a lot of time, nor effort. And you can be sure it is made exactly to your liking. You can control how sour it is, and control the texture as well as the consistency.
If you are lactose intolerant, homemade yogurt is the way for you to enjoy eating yogurt again.
Yogurt is the result of the work of a strain of helpful bacteria that feeds on the lactose in milk, releasing lactic acid in the process, which gives the yogurt its taste. Lactic acid alongside the bacteria in yogurt aid in digestion. After all, the human digestive system requires the help of bacteria to process some of the foods it cannot digest on its own, due to lack of required enzymes.
Making yogurt is just ensuring that the conditions are right for those helpful bacteria to work. They prefer a certain temperature, between 108 degrees and 119 degrees Fahrenheit, 42 degrees and 48 degrees Celsius, respectively. For the duration of at least 8 hours. The longer you keep the (regulated) heat for, the longer the bacteria converts lactose into lactic acid. If you are lactose intolerant, leave it on for 24 hours. Your yogurt will taste more acidic, and will be lactose free.
You can use any type of milk. Personally, I find that whole fat milk tastes especially sweet when turned into yogurt. It leaves a creamy layer on top. The contrast between the sour and sweet gives the flavor a little extra zest, especially if you leave it for 24 hours.
The equipment you will need for this is as follows:
- 1 or more containers to prepare the yogurt in.
Personally, I stay away from plastic containers. A container made from glass or stainless steel would be best.
- A low heat source.
Something like an electrical heating pad works really well.
- A liquid thermometer.
You can use an infra-red gun if you own one.
- A stock-pot to heat the milk.
- A spoon for stirring.
You will also need one table spoon of active culture yogurt for every quart of milk you will use. Only for the first time, after that, you can store a little of the yogurt you made and store it in a sterilized container and save in your freezer for the next time. The cold will stop and preserve the live culture so it will be ready next time you want to prepare a batch of yogurt.
First, you will need to sterilize the equipment you are going to use. To ward away unwelcome bacteria.
Simply pour boiling water into the container and leave it for a few minutes then dispose of the water and leave the container to dry.
You only need to sterilize the milk if it’s not already pasteurized. To do so, heat the milk to a 185 degrees Fahrenheit or 85 degrees Celsius, respectively. Use low heat, and keep stirring to prevent the milk from burning at the bottom of the pot. Once it reaches the desired temperature, turn off the heat and use a water bath to bring down the temperature. If you are using a stainless steel pot, it is important to use the water bath technique as the pot will maintain its heat for a longer period of time.
Wait until the milk’s temperature drops to a comfortable temperature for the bacteria, between 108 degrees and 119 degrees Fahrenheit, 42 degrees and 48 degrees Celsius, respectively. Then pour it into the container you have sterilized before, make sure it is dry and ready before you use it. Add one table spoon of your active culture yogurt per quart of milk. Stir and mix until there are no lumps.
Wrap the container with the heating pad, or make sure it is getting enough heat from the source of your choice. And leave it in a dark and stable place for 8 to 24 hours according to your preference. When complete, refrigerate and serve cold.
For the first time you try this, I recommend you calibrate the heating source. Use the same or a similar container and heat source you plan to prepare your yogurt with. Fill the container with water, and periodically measure its temperature over the duration of 8 hours. See if the temperature stays in the desired range. And make notes of any adjustments you need for future reference.
Ensure you use a starter of a live culture yogurt in it. If it does not have active culture written on the label, odds are it does not contain any live bacteria that can replicate and work for you.
Another method, is to use a thermos flask for your container, the downside is that your yogurt will be all mushed up when you pour it out. If that is not a problem for you. The thermos flask will not require external heat, and most reputable brands will keep the mixture warm for the desired duration.