Making Homemade Yogurt
by Betsy Morgan Huntsville, AL
Yogurt is delicious and very nutritious. It's also high in protein and calcium. I eat it daily, and have found that I can "make" my own for about 1/4 the cost of storebought. A quart of store brand plain fat free yogurt costs $2.99, and I can make it, for very little effort, for about $0.50/quart.
First, you will need to buy some plain yogurt to use as a "starter"--it must states "Contains Live Active Cultures" on the container. A small amount of these cultures will enable you to turn plain milk into yogurt.
Put 2 TBSP of the yogurt in a small bowl on the counter to come to room temperature. Put the remainder of the yogurt into an ice cube tray, about 1 TBSP per section. Freeze; you can thaw and use this for later batches (2 TBSP yogurt per quart of milk). After the cubes are frozen, you can put them into a gallon sized ziploc bag to store in your freezer.
To make one quart of yogurt, you will need:
- A heavy saucepan
- Candy Thermometer
- A thermos, at least 1 quart in size
- 1 quart (4 cups) skim milk
- 1/2 cup dry instant skim milk
- 2 TBSP plain yogurt at room temperature (with live active cultures)
- Other additives as desired (see end of recipe for suggestions)
Mix the milk and dry milk in the saucepan. Over medium low heat and using candy thermometer, bring milk to 180 degrees. Stir frequently, and turn down heat if milk is heating too fast. When milk reaches 180 degrees, remove saucepan from burner--you are waiting for it to cool to 115 degrees.
While it is cooling, you need to preheat the thermos. An easy way to do this is to boil about 12 oz of water in the microwave and pour the water into the thermos. Close tightly. Empty out the water just before filling the thermos with yogurt.
When the milk cools to 115 degrees, remove 1/2 cup of milk from the saucepan and mix thoroughly with the 2 TBSP of yogurt you set out earlier. Then combine the yogurt-milk mixture with the milk in the saucepan thoroughly. Pour mixture into preheated thermos.
Let thermos sit out on counter for 4-8 hours--the longer it sits, the tarter the yogurt will be. After 4-8 hours, open the thermos and you should have *yogurt*! You may have to shake the thermos to get the yogurt out. Put it into a container and refrigerate.
You can use 2 TBSP of your "homemade" yogurt as a starter for your next batch; after 2 or 3 chained batches of yogurt, it may start to get runny, and you will probably want to use your frozen yogurt cubes to start your next batch(thawed and brought to room temperature).
My favorite way to eat it is to blend in wheat germ and dried fruit bits. You can also add sugar to the milk when heating it, and add vanilla flavoring right before putting into the thermos. Other flavorings such as applesauce or jelly can be added right before serving.
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