This is my very first attempt at making home made yogurt. It brings back memories of my first cheese making project as they both start the same way, heating up the milk. In this case, I used raw milk from our fresh milk/egg/meat CSA. The best milk, so good!
It's really quite easy to make. Sterilizing everything you'll need to use first, like containers, thermometer, pan, spoons, etc. Heat 1/2 gallon milk to 190 degrees, remove from heat and let cool to 105 degrees. Take 4 oz already prepared plain yogurt (I used Stonyfield Organic Plain), put it in a bowl. Add 4 oz of 105 degree milk to it to temper the yogurt. Then, mix all back into the milk.
If you want fruit in your yogurt, use 8oz frozen or fresh fruit, add 1 T sugar or honey and heat on stovetop until reduced about half. Crush with potato masher when softened. Spoon about 1/4 c of fruit in the bottom of an 8oz container with a tight fitting lid (I used 1/2 pint mason jelly jars), fill with yogurt. Fill a small cooler with about 1/2 gallon water that is 105 degrees, place jars in cooler and close the lid. Place cooler in a warm place for 4-6 hours and presto, you've got yogurt! If you use raw whole milk, it will not taste like the yogurt you're accustomed to. No tang, no bite, it's smooth and silkie and quite delicious. Give it a go, it's really easy and so economical. I pay $7.00 a gallon for organic raw whole milk at the farm, I can get about 20 servings from a gallon. So, I pay about $.38 per container and that includes the fruit (I used strawberries I picked last summer). Stonyfield organic yogurt is $1.19 in the grocery store here, so that's a serious savings, and we eat a lot of yogurt in our house.
On my pursuit of local only food, it's a great item to make on my own. Even the Stonyfield that I use as the starter is local for me as their plant is in the next town and also their milk, though pooled, is organic and local to New England. I am not contributing any plastic containers to any recycling or worse yet garbage heap, the ingredients were all within biking distance of my house and it is totally yummy. I control the amount of sugar, preservatives (none!) and coloring (also none!) that go into it. I feel that much more self reliant knowing I can make this for my family. It's all good, folks. Give it a go, it's really easy, very low-tech and you won't be sorry you tried a new skill.
I also made my very first totally homemade tortillas last night for Lime Chicken Tacos. They were a little crispy for a first try, but the flavor was great and the chicken with lime filling was really yummy. I'll post that some time later as it was incredibly easy to make as well. I get chicken from my CSA which always comes in whole form. Though I could cut it up and cook it separately well, it's already thawed whole, so I just cook the whole thing. I usually get about 6 meals out of one chicken. They are big, yummy and free range, so tend to have a good muscle mass to them. I had some left over rib, leg and thigh meat, so I decided to give the tacos a whirl for Music Man and I and they came out quite good. Since he's been laid off again, I'm in total survival mode, gotta do more for myself and not buy anything prepackaged any more (I've yet to perfect the Cheez It though, Music Man's big weakness!) . Of course, there are so many health benefits to that since I know exactly what goes in to it and where it came from. Perhaps that will be one of those wonderful by products of a stressful situation, really making me walk the walk instead of it being partly talking the talk. It's a whole different story when you're really making it work for yourself and proving to yourself you can be much more self sufficient then you ever thought possible. Feels really good, honestly.
Yogurt adventures to you, ~Peacemom