When we started researching about the best milk preservation techniques, yogurt making stood out and proved to be one of the most reliable techniques. Many people have loved it but the challenge has been making natural homemade yogurt and we found it necessary to shed some light on some of the easy homemade yogurt recipes. Let’s walk through the yogurt making process together and see how we can tweak the ingredients to give different tastes and flavors.
Yogurt making is not difficult and only requires you to have basic skills. It is fun packed and doesn’t have to follow a strict process explaining why different blogs will have different techniques. The secret behind every procedure used is understanding how to use the bacteria that gives yogurt its tangy flavor.
The common bacteria used in yogurt include Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles. These are safe bacteria that eat the sugar in milk and produce lactic acid that curdles milk proteins turning the milk into yogurt.
The Yogurt Making Process
Different techniques have been invented in a bid to save time but there are two main procedures that have proven to be very reliable. The first is the cooking of milk on a cook stove and incubating it in a cooler or oven and the other is the use of a modern yogurt maker.
We prefer using a yogurt maker for several reasons. First, incubating the natural homemade yogurt in your oven means that you cannot use the over for the 8 hours. This can be a little inconveniencing considering how valuable time is. Well, you may think of incubating the yogurt overnight and using the oven during the day. This may work perfectly but not if you had a busy day and all that is ringing in your mind is getting some sleep.
Secondly, there are advanced yogurt makers that have a large pot and will automatically make the yogurt for you. These makers will portion out the yogurt into servings and will allow you to prepare different flavors at the same time. Isn’t that interesting?
Lastly, yogurt makers increase your efficiency. It is quite disappointing spending your time making yogurt batches and end up with several batch failures. This is not only frustrating but results in losses. Yogurt makers increase efficiency as they will regulate the temperatures and give the yogurt the mix that it requires. To crown it all, you do not have to keep track of time as the machine will turn off automatically after the yogurt is ready.
The 6 Basic Natural Yogurt Making Steps
Choose Your Milk
High quality yogurt will definitely come from the best milk. Many people will use any milk to make their natural homemade yogurt but it is important to note that only healthy milk will produce healthy yogurt. If possible, use raw milk especially if you are following the GAPS protocol. If you do not have access to raw milk, you can use low pasteurized non-homogenized milk. This is the milk that has the yummy cream layer. Goat milk has proven to have a very thick layer. It is also very nutritious and has numerous health benefits.
Heat The Milk
This is a very crucial step as it is at this step that the harmful bacteria are killed. Milk heating is determined by the yogurt starter culture and milk type in use. If you are making mesophilic yogurt using pasteurized milk you do not need any heat. You however need the heat when making pasteurized thermophilic yogurt.
Heat the milk to a temperature of 160-180 degrees Fahrenheit to kill unsavory microbes larking in the milk. At such temperatures, all the pathogens, mold and spores will be killed. This way, you are sure that the only bacteria that will be present in your yogurt will be the safe bacteria introduced later.
Heating your milk also increases your yogurt thickness by evaporating a significant amount of water content and changing the protein structure.
Cool The Milk
Once the milk has reached 180 degrees Fahrenheit, transfer it into canning jars. Have a pair of tongs and a stainless steel funnel to ease the work. The milk should then be left to cool until when the temperature falls to 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit.
The cooling process can be hastened by putting the milk in a water bath. You can also leave it on the counter to cool naturally. Just ensure that you have a keen eye on the temperature change.
Once the temperatures have dropped to 115 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s time to add some yogurt. This can be ready yogurt from your previous batch or that bought from a store. It’s advisable that you go for plain Greek yogurt. Stir to incorporate the plain yogurt into the milk. Replace the lids to keep off dirt.
Incubate The Yogurt
The active natural homemade yogurt making stages are over and you now need to leave the yogurt to cook on its own. Ensure that the lids are replaced and incubate in an oven. At this stage temperatures should be maintained at 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures above 1150 can kill the culture but temperatures slightly below this wouldn’t have a huge impact. You can always try replacing the 40 watt bulb with a 60 watt one if you find it hard to achieve the optimum temperature.
Incubate the yogurt for 10 to 12 hours. If you are in no hurry, you can let it sit for 24 hours. GAPS protocol recommends 24 hours as it lets most of the lactose to be consumed by the bacteria introduced by the culture. It also gives your yogurt the desired deep tangy flavor.
Refrigerate The Yogurt
Once the incubation period is over, refrigerate your yogurt. You can always pour out the whey and use it while preparing the next batch. At this stage, you can use a cheese cloth to strain your yogurt. Straining gives you thick and consistent yogurt.
This practically marks the end of the yogurt making process. You can then use it in natural homemade yogurt recipes, desserts or simply drizzle raw honey and enjoy your freshly prepared yogurt.
Yogurt serves so many purposes and comes packed with nutrients. Having some skills to make your homemade yogurt comes in handy in making the best from your dairy products.
It benefits you even more if you have several homemade yogurt recipes to choose from as you can easily make different yogurt flavors. You can always try out homemade frozen yogurt recipes too to boost your culinary skills. Have fun preparing your yogurt from home and save lots of money.