|Cranberry jam in yogurt|
I always thought yogurt was too complicated to consider making. And then I learned how and found out that it's very easy to make and it doesn't take any fancy gadgets though if you have them, use them.
|Fresh Raw Milk|
So, to de-mystify the process you need an oven, a heavy pot, a thermometer, a whisk and a bowl large enough to hold the yogurt. That's the stripped down version and most everyone has those items in their household. (*If you don't want to heat your milk, you can research yogurt making online for instructions for doing it without heating it first.)
The ingredients are very simple. Got Milk? Really, do you have some fresh milk? It doesn't matter if it's cow milk or goat milk. The second ingredient is either very fresh yogurt with live and active cultures as an ingredient on the label or purchased packages of freeze dried yogurt starter. I've used both but really like using Fage greek yogurt with live and active cultures. I prefer the thickness and flavor of the end product. I've also used non-fat dried milk in it to help thicken the yogurt in the past. If you choose to do that, add 1/4 cup per quart of milk.
If you're using fresh yogurt as a starter, choose plain yogurt, not flavored. If you regularly eat yogurt, you can use your own yogurt as the yogurt starter, just save some aside. Some freeze it in ice cube trays and then move it to a container to store it. Others make yogurt every few days so they just keep a jar of it for the next batch.
|Whisking milk on it's way to 180°F|
I suggest a heavy pot at medium heat on the stove. Add your quart of milk and whisk while you heat it to 180°F. I've got fancy clip on thermometers but really prefer to just use a small digital thermometer that I've attached to my whisk. You want to keep the milk moving while it heats so that you don't scald it. As soon as you reach 180°F, remove the pot from the heat and keep stirring for at least five minutes. Then let it sit until the temperature drops to 115°F.
|Jars of yogurt inside of dehydrator|
Once the milk gets to 115°F, remove a cup of the milk to a bowl and add your yogurt starter or 1/4 cup of yogurt with live and active cultures and whisk together. Once blended, add that back to the pot with the rest of the milk and whisk until incorporated.
Pour milk mixture into a bowl or a jar. My personal preference is to use half pint jars as individual servings. This allows us to flavor it any way we want to.
|Pot of yogurt I made in my oven right in the pan|
If you don't have a yogurt maker or a dehydrator you can always turn your oven on for 10 minutes while you put this all together, then turn the heat off but turn the oven light on. Place your covered bowl, jars or the pan you cooked it in with the cover on onto a cookie sheet, place a heavy towel over them and slide them into the oven. The light will keep the oven a constant low temperature which allows the good bacteria in the culture to grow. I would put these into my oven just before going to bed and 8 hours later I had yogurt ready to go into the refrigerator. You can leave it in longer or remove it sooner. The longer you let it go the more tangy it will be. If you have a yogurt maker, simply follow the directions to your maker. I have a dehydrator with removable shelves that allows me to put the jars into it. I set the temperature to 115°F and 8 hours later I have yummy yogurt ready to be chilled and eaten.
My favorite flavor for my yogurt is vanilla-honey. A dollop of this honey stirred into the chilled yogurt is pure bliss. I've also used maple syrup, my homemade cranberry jam, chopped cooked apples with cinnamon and honey, fresh blueberries, fresh strawberries and/or bananas to flavor my yogurt. Or you could just eat it plain.
|Yogurt with Vanilla Honey|
If you're a greek yogurt fan you can easily modify this recipe to make it thick and tangy. Let it stay in the oven longer to get tangy. Place several layers of cheese cloth or a nut milk bag in a strainer over a bowl, add the yogurt andlet it drain for 3 hours or so in the refrigerator. Remove it to a container and use it in recipes or as a delicious meal all on it's own. Remember, the first batch is the hardest.
If you'd like to try my favorite vanilla-honey on your yogurt, you'll find the instructions for making it here.
|Cranberry Jam Yogurt|
|Cooked Apple-Cinnamon with Honey Yogurt|