Yogurt is an absolute staple in our home, but it can get pretty expensive and be loaded with unnecessary flavors and fillers when bought at the store. Thankfully, we have discovered how easily (and cheaply!) we can make it ourselves! Oh yeah, and it is healthier too!
Health Benefits of Eating Yogurt
When properly fermented with live, probiotic cultures, yogurt can offer some health benefits over “ordinary milks” like:
- Being more easily digested based on some of the milk sugars (lactose) and casein being used up
- Enhanced nutrients that are more bio-available
- Rebalancing gut/digestive flora due to probiotic content
- Offering some antibiotic power (especially during the first 2 weeks after fermentation).
Unfortunately, many commercially-produced yogurts do not yield the same benefits.
They can be high in added sugars and synthetic flavors, and even the “safer” additives found in them can be a sign that your snack isn’t as gut-loving and health-producing as you think. Fillers are often used to help thicken and smooth the texture of store-bought yogurt, yes – even in many organic variations. This is because many yogurts have been processed with accelerated and extremely short fermentation periods that are not able to fully thicken (or produce the healthy bacteria and cultures) at such speed.
It is always a good idea to check the ingredients label before adding even “healthy” products to your shopping cart. But here is some great news: making yogurt at home gives you complete control over the ingredients and nutrition, and what’s more, it only takes 2 ingredients!
STOVETOP VS. CROCKPOT RECIPES
You may have noticed that there are plenty of homemade yogurt recipes out there, many of which are made in either a crockpot or on the stove. Both of these methods will work, and they are a couple of ways to go about making yogurt. Choosing a method for your family really comes down to personal preference and utilizing the equipment you already have.
Our family gave a crockpot version a go for some time, and on one hand it was “easier” since most of the time the yogurt just sat there. However, I have actually come to like making it on the stove top (and incubating it in the oven) much better! Though it involves a bit more stirring and some babysitting over an open flame, I have found it to be far less messy, enables me to make a bigger batch at one time, and the stovetop protocol is very easy to time with my night/sleep schedule.
HOMEMADE STOVETOP YOGURT RECIPE:
- large pot
- candy thermometer (like this one)
- mason jars
- baking tray
- 1 gallon milk (we prefer whole raw, goats milk can also be used)
- 3/4 cup – 1 cup yogurt (can be taken from a previously made batch)
Heat a gallon of milk over an open flame to 180 F, stirring often. (If you don’t have a thermometer, look for a film to develop on the top of the milk as an approximate indicator.)
Lower heat and keep the milk at 180 F for 10 minutes, still stirring frequently.
Remove from heat and let cool to 110 F, stirring occasionally. (If you don’t have a thermometer, wait until you can place your finger in the milk for 10 seconds).
Mix in the starter cup of yogurt. Tip: combine some of the warm milk first to the yogurt starter, and then mix that into the rest of the gallon.
Pour mixture into glass jars and seal tightly. Places the jars on a baking sheet, close together, and wrap with a towel to keep warmth. Move them into an unheated oven with a closed door and allow to sit for 7-24 hours. (7 hours is enough to produce a great texture and product, but letting it sit longer will eat up more of the lactose and can produce higher amounts of probiotics.)
Store jars in the fridge. Enjoy! And be sure to save a cup of it to use as a starter for your next batch!
Do you make your own yogurt? What methods do you use? Let me know in the comments below!
This post was shared on Simply Natural Saturdays.