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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Home-made Yogurt

Since I left home back when I was 19, to pursue higher studies and venture out for a career, I have missed the smell, taste and texture of mom's home made yogurt. The flavors just arent the same, the way it feels in the mouth just isnt the same. I used to love any dry sabzi with rice and yogurt, but I seemed to have not tried that for a long long time.

Then I finally decided to give it a try. I thought how difficult can it be if Mom can do it :-) So the next time that I visited her in Toronto, I got back with me a bowlful of this sinfully yummy homemade yogurt from her - this would be my starter.

I made it a few of times, but then gave up, it seemed to be too much of a hassle to keep it in the oven with the light on, sometimes it would thicken up fine, sometimes it wouldnt. Maybe it wasnt warm enough! And then...

I researched online and found out that they have these things called yogurt incubators, which are a very dumb unit. Plug it into the electricity outlet, it just warms up inside to a slightly warm temperature. This helps maintain the temperature you need for the yogurt to set well. As simple as that! I leaped onto it and bought one from amazon a couple of years ago.

Salton yogurt maker

So I was back again experimenting with my yogurt making! I tried first with whole milk, as I wanted to get the technique right. Once... amazing results! Second... amazing results! Third... amazing results! I had reached "consistency"!

Those of you who know me well, will also know very well how much of a health-izer I am. I try to lighten recipes up all the time, and try to healthy and nutritious most of the times. So, of course I couldnt stick to whole milk. In fact, whole milk was on the grocery shopping list just because of the yogurt!

And then I got to 1% low fat milk. Thats what I always have at home for the husband. I am lactose intolerant so for me it is 1% Lactaid milk. But the funny thing is that yogurt doesnt seem to bother me, even though milk does.

Anywayz, I have been making yogurt at home from 1% regular milk for a long time now. And it has been going great. Here is how I do it...

1% Low-fat milk being used for yogurt

I use one of the regular store bought yogurt containers since they fit perfectly well in the Salton yogurt maker. In fact I tossed away the container that came with the maker. Make sure your container is really really clean, and make sure no remains of the foil cap is remaining on the edges, as the microwave will not take it well.

1. Plug in your Salton yogurt maker.
2. Pour around 3 to 4 cups of 1% low-fat milk in a yogurt container, and microwave for about 4 to 5 minutes. That is how long my microwave takes, but it is a low power one. The aim is to get it to a scalding but not boiling level.

Microwaving the milk in a clean store-bought-yogurt container

3. Take it out from the microwave, and stir occasionally.
4. Keep checking every 5 minutes what the temperature of the milk is like. No science here, or at least I don't use any. If you can comfortably hold your pinky in the milk for 4-5 seconds, then it is ready.
5. In a separate bowl, take 2-3 tablespoons of the yogurt from the previous batch (or borrow from a friend, or use store bought active culture yogurt as a starter), and smoothen it out stirring with a spoon. Add 1/2 cup of the milk from the other container to this and mix it up gently. Now add this yogurt mix into the rest of the heated up milk, and stir gently and thoroughly.
6. Now cover the lid of the yogurt container, and transfer it to the Salton yogurt maker which is already pre-heated. Cover the lid of the yogurt maker, and let it hang out overnight. I leave it for around 8 hours usually. The important thing is to not let the yogurt maker be disturbed, so it should be left in a less intrusive area of the room. My husband is over-pokey, so nights work best for my yogurt to set.
7. When done take the transfer carefully into the fridge, and leave it in the fridge until ready to use. This helps it get a little more firmer.

Note: The consistency of the home made yogurt, especially if made with 1% milk, might not be the same as what you have been used to if you are having store bought yogurt. Store bought yogurt is usually set with additives like gelatin (animal based thickener) or pectin (fruit based thickener), milk powder, etc.

Now we enjoy home-made low-fat yogurt whenever we want to. Will I try fat-free milk... nah! Low-fat is good enough :-) But yeah, next on my list is yogurt made from Lactaid..


  • At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i am lactose intolerant too, and i too enjoy yoghurt. here's a tip for thicker yoghurt with 1% milk. when you add the culture to warm milk, add 1/3 to 1/2 cup non-fat dry milk (milk powder). thickens it, makes it sweeter, and adds protein without the fat. btw, youc an get teh salton yoghurt maker at bed, bath and beyond.

  • At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If you add milk to the already cultured yogurt, you increase the likelihood of lactose intolerance. This is the problem with store bought yogurt. Labels will read...cultured milk and then also list other milk products. Keep it out to decrease chance of lactose problem!

    Also I read that the culture needs the lactose to work so Lactaid will not work. It won't have what it needs to develop the culture. Once it's a culture...little to no lactose issues.

  • At 6:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As jopalis said, using Lactaid is not the best way to make yogurt. The cultures act on the sugars in milk, and lactose is a sugar, (words that ends in -ose mean sugar). When you make yogurt, the cultures eat up milk sugars and produce lactic acid, so there ends up being much less lactose in yogurt than milk, which is why alot of people who are lactose intolerant can eat yogurt with no problem.

  • At 8:48 AM, Anonymous MET said…

    I make my yogurt all the time. You really should heat it in a glass bowl in the microwave, as when you microwave plastic it gives off dioxins from the plastic which is not good for you. I use 3 cups 1% milk, heat it for approx 6 min on high in mine. Then I have put 1/2 cup powdered skim milk in 1 more cup of milk. Mix that well and add, putting back in the microwave for 5 more minutes. This brings it to the 185 degress. I cool for 40 mins or what ever time it takes cool to 115 degrees. Add culture (3 or 4 tbsp) from previous weeks yogurt and stir in well and put in yogurt maker for 6 to 8 hours until firm. It is beautiful and smooth, and can be used in so many ways.By adding the powdered milk it makes it firmer.


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