Homemade Yogurt

“Why are you eating from a baby food jar?” That’s only one of the many questions I get asked about my homemade yogurt. Sometimes people are surprised to learn that yogurt can be made at home, others are curious about what it tastes like, but most wonder, why bother? Some weeks, I don’t bother. I buy plain Greek yogurt and eat it out of the container. Other weeks, I can do better.

I bother because it’s lean protein, and I’m sure there’s no sugar added, because I’m not adding any. Not even a teaspoon. I bother because it tastes good, and it reminds the palette how sugary most foods really are. After eating homemade yogurt, it’s hard not to find the other stuff sickeningly sweet.  That yogurt begins to taste like candy, and judging from the sugar content, not much separates it from candy. My kids enjoy homemade yogurt, but to be fair, their taste buds still seem to enjoy sugary yogurts, too. I slather the yogurt I make on tacos, burritos, and baked potatoes instead of sour cream. I tried using it as a base for macaroni salads, and found that I like a mixture of half mayonnaise and half plain yogurt. I eat it as an evening snack, as breakfast, and as a quick protein boost on days when I’m hungry between meals.

There are lots of methods for making homemade yogurt. They all involve a basic process of using a starter with live, active cultures. (I use plain yogurt or plain Greek yogurt that I buy at the store, making sure it says active cultures on the label). Then mixing it with milk that has been boiled, and letting it set somewhere warm until the whole batch turns into yogurt, usually about 8 hours. I have a friend who puts it all in a big glass bowl and sticks it in the oven with the oven off, using only the heat from the pilot light. Others have been known to simply set it on a warm counter top. Like the do-it-yourself weasel that I am, I bought a yogurt maker sold at Williams-Sonoma. It makes seven servings in six-ounce glass jars. It looks similar to a dehydrator and emits a small amount of heat. I mix the yogurt and boiled milk together, skim any film off the top, pour it in the jars, put them in the device with the lid on, and about 8 hours later, I have a week’s worth of plain yogurt.

At that point, you can add honey or jam if you want to sweeten it up. I usually eat it plain with fresh fruit and almond slivers. That’s the answer to what I’m eating from the “baby food jar.”

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