How to Make Yogurt at Home with Active Cultures
Yogurt is a food that keeps gaining popularity. With more scientists discovering more evidence about the importance and connection between gut bacteria and overall health, yougurt is becoming essential part of a healthy diet. If you have been sick and prescribed antibiotics, you’ve probably know that doctors recommend increasing the intake of probiotics. That’s what most yogurts are. Yogurt is a fermented milk product that is thickened by adding specific lactic acid-producing cultures to milk. It’s simply live bacteria multiplying and consuming lactose from the milk, turning it into lactic acid. Gradually the milk turns more acidic and thick. The basic live bacteria or probiotics used to make yogurt are Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Yogurt can also include other bacteria, as well as fruit and flavoring.
I love yogurt and I use it often for cooking. Many of the soup recipes I prepare are thickened with method called liaison based on homemade yogurt.
The only way you can insure eating real yogurt is by reading the food label very carefully or making yogurt at home with active cultures. Making your own yogurt at home is easy with this recipe for homemade yogurt.
|Ingredients for homemade yogurt:||Amount|
|1. Raw or whole milk.||1 gallon.|
|2. Starter Culture or yogurt with active culture.||1 pack or 4 tbsp.|
The ingredients are the most important part for your success of preparing homemade yogurt.
- For best results use raw milk. Be aware that in some states selling raw milk directly to consumers is illegal. Other states allow the sale of unpasteurized milk directly to consumers, but could have strict laws for distributing the item across states lines.
- If using whole milk from your local grocery store, avoid homogenized and ultra pasteurized milk. You can easily find that information marked on the package.
- You can make healthier yogurt by using 2% or skim milk but you risk compromising the thickness of your yogurt.
- Starter Culture is what I recommend and use to make my yougurt. Good thing is that once you have prepared homemade yogurt you can use it to prepare more for up to 5 times. Simply leave about 4 tbsp. of your homemade yougurt to start a new batch.
- Like I already said, you can use yougurt to start a new batch. You can certainly buy yogurt from the store and use it to prepare your homemade yogurt. I do not suggest using yogurt from the store for your first batch. My reasons are simply the low quality of yogurt that are currently on the market. You should know that not all companies make their product with active cultures. Some simply use food thickening products to create thick milk and call it yogurt. If I would to use yogurt from the store, I would be carful and always read the label to make sure active cultures are present. I would always suggest Bulgarian yogurt, as it’s my favorite and I would with no hesitation use to make my first homemade batch.
Before I share the process of preparing yogurt at home, I want to share a few products that are not required but I use and recommend for faster and hassle free process.
- – I love Bulgarian yogurt for its flavor and this is the starter culture that I use and recommend. It makes 10 batches of yogurt but you can use each batch for up to 5 times.
- – This yogurt maker would make your yogurt making experience a lot easier. The process of making yogurt requires time and maintaining an even temperature. Yogurt maker can do that for you without the need of monitoring temperature all the time, plus it comes with its own jars.
- – If you are not using yogurt maker, you would have to monitor the temperature of your yogurt for long period of time. Wireless thermometer is a must.
- – You would need jars or single glass bowl to put your yogurt in during the incubation period.
Step 1: Heating the milk
Put 1 gallon of raw or whole milk (no ultra pasteurized or homogenized milk) in deep stainless steal pan. Turn the heat to medium-high. Slowly bring the milk to 180°F, without stirring. Turn down the heat to low and maintain 180°F for a few minutes. This insures naturally thicker yogurt.
Step 2: Cooling the milk
Allow the milk to cool down to 115°F. Best way to do that is by being patient and monitoring the temperature all the time. You can defiantly fast-paced the cooling process by putting the pot in ice-cold water and stirring occasionally but you risk to drop the temperature more than a few degrees below 115°F. If the milk dips more than a few degrees below 115°F, you’ll have to rewarm it.
Step 2: Adding starter culture or yogurt with active culture.
Once the temperature of your milk has reached 115°F place 4 tbsp. of yogurt or 1 pack of the starter culture (follow instructions on the pack) in a medium bowl or glass measuring cup. Ladle in roughly 1 cup of the warm milk and whisk to combine. This is called tempering. Return the tempered milk and starter back into the pot or separate in jars. Cover with lid and towel. Like I already said I use and recommend Bulgarian Starter Culture to start my first batch of yogurt.
Step 2: Incubating.
Maintaining temperature around 113 °F (45 °C ) for the next 4 to 12 hours to allow fermentation is crucial for successful yogurt production.
Your options for where to incubate are:
- Oven – Keep the oven’s heat off but turn on the oven light. Place the covered pot/jars in the oven. If your climate is especially cold, wrap in a thicker towel. Stick a note on your oven door so you are reminded that there’s yogurt in there. Don’t open the oven during incubation. Success and time depends on your climate, oven’s insulation and light bulp power. Some ovens use 25W, some 40W, some 50W or 60W light bulbs. I find 60W bulb to work best for me. In most cases the modest heat generated by the light is sufficient to incubate your yogurt in 6 to 12 hours, but it may take a bit longer. The longer you incubate the yogurt, the tarter it will be. For best results use wireless thermometer with alarm set up between 115F. and 105F.
- Any spot in your home that you believe is warm – You can wrap your lidded pot/jars with a thick towel and incubate it there. Depending on the warmth of your spot and the ambient temperature of your home, your yogurt should be ready in 6 to 12 hours, but it may take a bit longer. Again, using wireless thermometer with alarm set up between 115F. and 105F is a must.
- Yogurt maker – Simply follow the instructions on your machine for best results.
Regardless of incubation method, your yogurt is ready when it’s thick and looks like yogurt. Chill the yogurt in the fridge before tasting it. For best taste cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight, before eating or using in recipes. Consume within 10 days and don’t forget to leave 4 tbsp. to start your next batch of yogurt. For thicker yogurt strain for several hours through a cheesecloth.