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How To Make Yogurt At Home
Make Yogurt At Home. It's Easy.
Make yogurt at home. It really is easy and can save you piles of money over buying yogurt at a supermarket.
A great way to save money and live the frugal life is to avoid buying things, at a huge markup, that you can quickly and easily make at home. Like yogurt.
My wife and I make a lot of yogurt, probably a gallon a week! How much would that cost us if we bought it in those tiny cups sold at the supermarket? One plastic cup of yogurt in the store is six ounces. A gallon of milk is one hundred and twenty-eight fluid ounces. Divide by six and that is about twenty-one cups of yogurt. Figure yogurt is fifty cents a cup (usually more) and that is ten dollars and fifty cents. One gallon of milk will cost anywhere from zero to three or four dollars. Ten minus three is seven dollars of savings a week. And the yogurt is great. Below I'll write some tips on what you can do with all that yogurt. Good for cooking.
Wait, did you just say zero? No dollars? For milk? Yep. My wife does the online coupon thing, and this week she got two gallons of milk and a handful of other things and only paid six cents for the lot. The milk was free. Of course, this did cost her a fair bit of time and thought and effort to arrange. So it isn't really free, but it didn't cost any actual dollars. If you do have a computer and don't have a job, couponing is a great hobby, more than a hobby, it's a lifeline for us. Milk in 2012 is costing us around $3.00/gallon, sometimes less.
So, how do you make yogurt? Is it really as cheap and easy as you claim? Well, my wife has one method and I have another. Both work, both are easy. My wife goes for a bit more complex method, with a lower chance of failure. (There really is no failure, it is always edible and a bad batch can be used for cooking.)
First, take the milk from the fridge and let it sit out until it warms up to room temperature. Then, put it in sauce pan and warm it on the stove until it just...almost...boils, but not quite. This step kills any bacteria that might be in the milk that would ruin the yogurt. This is the only step where you really have to pay attention, because if you bring milk to a boil too fast it will suddenly boil over and make a huge mess on your stovetop. Better to be a bit too cool than a bit too hot.
Okay, now cover the milk and let it cool down until it is just warm. The side of the pot should still feel warm, but not hot to your touch. If you are not sure, stick your finger in the milk. It should feel comfortably warm but not hot. Add your starter yogurt, that one little cup you bought at the store, and stir it in. Your starter yogurt doesn't have to be anything special. Just buy any cheap little cup of yogurt, or use the left over from your last batch. If your starter yogurt isn't fresh, sometimes it won't turn your milk into fresh yogurt, but that is a pretty rare problem.
Now, you have your warm milk mixed with the starter yogurt. Wrap the whole pot up in an old blanket, towels, whatever. We use an old winter coat the kids have outgrown. A thick layer is best, because you want the milk to stay warm a long time, hours. We leave it overnight, and in the morning take off the coat and have a fresh gallon of yogurt. Pour it into a pitcher or Tupperware and stick it in the fridge. Done, except for flavoring to taste. Add jam or honey or sugar or whatever you like.
Dangerous Yogurt Making Techniques
AN EASIER METHOD:
I like to think my wife overcomplicates things. She like things predictable, safe, just so. She keeps us on an even keel. I like things wilder, freer, a bit dangerous. Dangerous yogurt techniques, for the wild man in you...I should write a book.
My way is even easier than hers, and really, doesn't result in failure any more often, though the books say it should. I don't heat the milk to boiling before adding the starter yogurt. I just warm up the milk to a nice temp, comfortable for the hand on the side of the pot. Then I add the starter, stir, cover the pan, put the blanket on and leave it. I don't worry about the occasional stray bacteria that may be left. So far I haven't had a problem.
Suppose you do something wrong and have a failure. Once in a while the yogurt won't turn out right. It may be too soupy, not firm and creamy enough, or it may be chunky. It may taste a bit more sour than you are used to from store-bought yogurt. None of these are dangerous. The yogurt is still perfectly edible.
When these things happen, we make cream cheese. It isn't really cream cheese, the process is completely different, but the resulting product looks and tastes the same.
How To Make Cream Cheese From Homemade Yogurt:
Take a coffee filter and strain the yogurt through it. It will take a good while, and you have to empty the filter and scrape the 'cream cheese' out with a spatula into a container and refill the filter again. Remember, we are working with a gallon of yogurt here, it'll take a while to finish. The liquid that goes through the filter is whey. What is left behind is the milk curd, the cheese.
The whey has lots of nutritional value and shouldn't be thrown away. I don't like the flavor, but my wife and kids like to drink it, or she uses it in any cooking that needs water, like soup.
The cream cheese left behind in the coffee filter is put in a container and into the fridge. Use it as you would store-bought cream cheese. It is softer than regular cream cheese. Some 'failure'.
A yogurt failure is no crisis, but still something you want to avoid. Causes may be:
1. The milk is too hot when you add the starter. Just warm it up and try again with a fresh cup of starter yogurt.
2. The milk is too cold when you add the starter. Just warm it up and try again.
3. The yogurt starter is 'dead' or too old. Buy a fresh cup of yogurt and try again. Don't throw the milk away. Just go through the steps with the same milk. Heat it up, let it cool to warm, put the starter yogurt in.
4. A wild yogurt bacteria was already in the milk, and it doesn't make good yogurt. Turn it into cream cheese and whey. Or, use it in cooking, wherever you would use water or milk.
Besides cream cheese we use yogurt in lots of dishes. Put it on ice cream, cake or pie. Pour it over your cereal. Drink it straight.
Remember, this yogurt costs no more than the milk you use to make it, and is a lot better for you than straight milk. Use it any time you would use milk in a recipe. It contains the exact same amount of liquid water as milk, even if the texture is creamier. I add it to pancake batter in place of water or milk.
Yogurt is easy and cheap to make. In the old days, before refrigeration, people made yogurt to keep their milk from spoiling. If the economy keeps getting worse, we may be back to the old days, any day now.