Why make homemade yogurt?
In short, homemade yogurt is better, both for you and in taste! If you have been reading my blog, you know I harp on quality. When you make your own yogurt, you control the quality of the milk, which is the most important part, as well as the quality of the culture (the beneficial bacteria that you are adding to your yogurt). The length of time of the ferment is also up to your discretion. The longer the ferment, the more probiotics that develop. Another important reason to make your own homemade yogurt is that most store-bought yogurt contains fillers and additives! Yuck!
When making yogurt, choose organic grass-fed whole milk that has not been homogenized. You can choose raw if you like (instructions for making raw yogurt are at the bottom of the post). Usually though, when making yogurt, you heat milk to kill any “competing” bacteria. This is why it is okay to buy milk that has already been pasteurized.
Why Raw (or non-homogenized), grass-fed, and organic?
Raw milk is not pasteurized and it is not homogenized. This makes it so much healthier for you than store-bought.
- Pasteurizing reduces vitamins as well as kills off beneficial enzymes that your body needs to help digest the milk! Many people who believe they are lactose intolerant have no trouble digesting milk once they switch to raw dairy.
- When milk is homogenized, the fat particles are spun around very quickly until they become very small. They become something unrecognizable to your body. It is a similar problem to those of trans-fats, also known as hydrogenated fats. We have all heard by now about the dangers of hydrogenated fats (although they are still hidden in many processed and prepared foods, so read labels!) If you don’t have a choice to buy raw milk in your area, choose an organic, grass-fed non-homogenized version.
- When a cow eats the food it was meant to eat (mainly grass), you get all the health benefits of the grass without having to eat the grass yourself. When cows eat grain or corn, especially non-organic grain or corn that is GMO and heavily sprayed with pesticides, you get the drawbacks, of that diet. It is also worth tugging at your heart strings a bit by mentioning that the quality of life of a grass-fed dairy cow is much preferable to that of a poor, conventional dairy cow.
Why whole milk?
I’m sure you know by now, that fat is not the enemy that we have been told it was. Your body needs fat (especially children whose brains are developing at a rapid pace.) There is no reason to take the fat out of milk! Nature intended the fat to be in the milk for a reason.
Benefits of Dairy fat (from grass-fed cows) :
- Helps with weight loss
- Raises “good” cholesterol
- Lowers risk of diabetes
- Reduces bloating (This is probably due to the lower ratio of lactose to fat. Incidentally, yogurt and milk kefir have virtually no lactose (milk sugar) left because the bacteria eats it. Thank you, bacteria!)
What you will need to make homemade yogurt:
- Crock pot or stockpot
- Nut milk straining bag (or cheesecloth)
- Whole milk (preferably raw grass-fed, but at least non-homogenized and organic)
- Starter yogurt (a high quality yogurt that you buy from the store) or yogurt starter culture which comes as a powder. (I use a starter yogurt. I buy a Bulgarian yogurt from my local Co-op (PCC). You need one tablespoon of starter for a half gallon of yogurt.) I lay parchment out on baking trays and portion out one tablespoon dollops. I then freeze them for about an hour or two. Once they are frozen, I put them into freezer bags. Whenever I want to make yogurt, I just reach in and grab one.
- Optional: dehydrator
How to make homemade yogurt:
- Heat milk to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. (Unless you want to do raw yogurt with your raw milk. See the bottom of this post for instructions on that method.) This kills any competing bacteria. It is much more gentle than pasteurization (especially ultra-pasteurization). The easiest method and the one I usually do is the crock pot. I set it on low and then keep taking the temperature every 30 minutes or so. The timing will vary depending on your crock pot. Mine takes about 4 hours to get to 180, but I don’t have to stand over the stove and stir.
- Once your milk has reached 180, let it cool to about 120 degrees Fahrenheit so that you can inoculate your milk with your culture. (This just means add your starter yogurt or yogurt starter.) Stir it in gently.
- Cover the crock or pot and place either into the oven with the pilot light on or into the dehydrator on the lowest temperature setting. (This is the one I use.)
- Leave it there for 12-24 hours. The longer you let it ferment, the more probiotics will be in your yogurt. It will also become more tangy.
- Once your yogurt is fermented to your liking, you will probably want to strain it. It will be very loose. If you like it thick (like Greek yogurt), you will strain it for longer (a few hours) than if you like a looser consistency (an hour or so). I use a nut milk bag for this, but you can use doubled up cheesecloth. I just use the ties from the bag to hang it from one of my upper cupboard handles and strain the whey into a bowl. Save the whey! It is full of protein and probiotics!
What to do with whey from homemade yogurt:
- Add it to a protein shake.Add it to broths and soups after they have cooled.
- Add it to baked goods in place of other liquids.
- Use it to lacto-fermented veggies!
- Feed it to your pets.
- Add it to your soaking grains and beans.
If after all of this, you still feel that you don’t have the time, I get it. Healthy living is all about balance after all. What you can do is choose your store-bought yogurt wisely. Try to buy grass-fed and organic of course, but turn the tub over and make sure there are no fillers.
How to make Raw Milk homemade Yogurt:
Take sterilized quart mason jars and fill with raw milk. Gently mix in your starter yogurt. You need 1 tablespoon of yogurt to culture a half gallon of milk. Put your jars in your dehydrator set at the lowest temperature (usually 95). Leave there for 12- 24 hours. When finished, strain to your liking! All done. Enjoy 🙂
Ways to Enjoy your homemade yogurt:
- Plain with a little maple syrup mixed in
- Topped with Lemon Curd
- Spoon Berry Sauce (Raspberry, strawberry, etc.) over the top
- Mixed with granola or muesli
- With fresh fruit
Have you ever made homemade yogurt? How was it?