When I was a young girl, my grandma taught me many things. When she was a young mother, she raised her children during the Great Depression. My grandfather worked for $5 a day and their mortgage was $25 a month. My grandma was very frugal; she used up everything she had. Nothing went to waste.
Fresh, homemade yogurt was always brewing on the counter near Grandma’s stove in her warm kitchen. When my mother would take us for a visit, Grandma would tell us that if we ate yogurt every day it would help us to live 10 years longer. I believed her and never questioned my yogurt consumption.
If any of us grandchildren got cut, had a sunburn or a burn of any kind or even an upset stomach, Grandma gave us yogurt to eat. She even plastered it on us like salve. It felt so good on the sunburn and soothed the pain right away. I am following in my grandma’s footsteps by making my own fresh homemade yogurt.
I found out with a little research that my grandma was right on. Yogurt lowers cholesterol, boosts the immune system, helps with lactose intolerance and is rich in calcium and protein. If we have friendly flora in our intestinal tract, it boosts the immune system and helps fight infections, which help us avoid getting those nasty flu bugs that are going around. Yogurt returns friendly flora to our bodies that are killed by antibiotics. Eating yogurt boosts the immune system without any side effects. Eating yogurt can spare many trips to the doctor and, like my grandma said, add 10 extra years to life.
Yogurt Is A Natural Antibiotic
Yogurt is just fermented milk. You can make it by adding the active cultures Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus (L. bulgaricus) to heated milk. This produces lactic acid, which gives yogurt its strong tart flavor and its thick consistency.
Yogurt is not just a breakfast food anymore. Some cultures use yogurt in their everyday cooking. My grandma put yogurt on top of warm rice with fresh fruit cut up into small pieces on top. It was delicious. I like to make a dessert out of yogurt. I put frozen strawberries, peaches or apples chopped up on top of a bowl of yogurt, and then I sprinkle homemade granola on top of the fruit. This is the best dessert for me because I am diabetic and I can still enjoy dessert without all the sugar. Yum, yum!
A yogurt starter is a must. You can purchase a plain unflavored yogurt with a live culture at any supermarket. You must read the label to make sure it has the active culture in it. Believe it or not, there are some yogurts in the supermarket that do not have the cultures added. They are loaded with sugar and are not that healthy or good for you.
One way to store yogurt culture for an extended period of time is in the powdered, freeze-dried form, which can be purchased from a health food store or a cheesemaking-supply website. The freeze-dried culture is best kept in the freezer or refrigerator.
Making your own yogurt is much less expensive and better for you because you can control what is put into it. You can add fresh fruit and stevia or other healthy sweeteners. Knowing that there are no preservatives or additives will give you true peace of mind.
Making Grandma’s Homemade Yogurt From Powdered Milk
Most people have powdered milk in their food storage. This is a way that you can use up your powdered milk and make something yummy from it.
Mix the powdered milk according to the instructions on the package to make half a gallon of milk. If you want to double the yogurt, you can double the recipe. The first time you make yogurt is the only time you will need to purchase fresh yogurt. After that, you can keep it in a jar in the fridge and use 1/2 cup of plain yogurt to make another batch. This is much more economical than purchasing yogurt from the store. Use your own and keep it going like sourdough starter. I like to add fruit to my homemade yogurt. Just mix it into the pint jar and enjoy.
½ gallon of fresh milk or (Mix powdered milk and water together to make ½ gallon of milk)
1 extra cup powdered milk (to thicken the yogurt)
1-1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin or pectin (to thicken the yogurt)
½ cup plain unflavored yogurt (with active cultures)
¼ cup sweetener such as honey and agave or 1 teaspoon of stevia (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Clean, sterilized glass pint canning jars
Candy thermometer (optional)
- Warm the oven on the lowest setting for about 15 minutes. Turn off the oven and keep the door closed so it remains warm. Place the clean glass canning jars on a cookie sheet.
- Mix the powdered milk and gelatin into the ½ gallon of milk.
- Add the milk to a stainless steel stock-pot and cook on high heat until it barely starts to boil. Get it to 200 degrees but no higher. Keep checking the thermometer. When you see little bubbles on the surface, hold it at 200 degrees for 20 minutes and then remove it from the heat. This is to kill any bacteria in the milk. This is especially important if you are using fresh cow’s milk or goat’s milk that has not been pasteurized. It also allows more time for the milk proteins to denature and bind together better to create a thicker yogurt like the store-bought kind.
- Let the milk cool to about 150 degrees (on the candy thermometer) or until you can comfortably place your hand on the side of the pot (or dip your clean finger into the milk) for at least 10 seconds without it being too hot. Placing the pot in a sink with ice will help cool down the pot, and it will chill faster.
- Once the milk has cooled down, put the yogurt into a bowl. Scoop out about ½ cup of warm milk and add it to the starter yogurt. Whisk it up until it is mixed well and then return the mixture to the pot with the rest of the milk.
- Add the sweetener and vanilla to the mixture. Stir gently two to three times to make sure it’s all mixed well. Then pour (or ladle) the milk and yogurt mixture into clean glass pint jars.
- Carefully move the cookie sheet of jars into the oven. Turn the oven light on (very important) and set the timer for four hours.
- Remove the jars from the oven and rest them on the counter until they’ve cooled to room temperature. Then, cover the jars with canning lids and rings and store them in the fridge. The yogurt should be set after eight hours in the fridge, where they’ll keep for up to 10 days. You can put the yogurt in an insulated ice chest or cooler with ice in it for the eight hours it takes to set.
Add ION (Stabilized Oxygen) To Yogurt
ION stabilized oxygen keeps the yogurt from going sour. Just add eight drops of ION to each pint of yogurt right after filling the jars with the yogurt and milk mixture. Stir it up and let it set in the fridge for the remaining eight hours while it thickens. ION is very good for the intestinal tract; it kills all harmful bacteria and actually enhances the friendly flora in the body.
Commercial Yogurt Makers
There are several commercial yogurt makers on the market if you feel safer doing it that way. They are inexpensive (usually less than $40). The jars rest on a warming plate that keeps the temperature controlled at the right degrees to grow the yogurt culture and help it set up.
Add Toppings To Your Granola
When eating yogurt, add fresh or dried fruit and granola to the top. I especially love frozen strawberries stirred up into the yogurt, which freezes it and makes it into a frozen dessert. I also like to use yogurt and fruit in smoothies and salad dressings as well as sauces.
I remember as a child we made homemade Popsicles. You can do the same thing if you have Popsicle molds. Just mix the yogurt and berries together and put the mixture into the molds, then pop them in the freezer. I have even made these in the snow. Our weather in Utah gets below 0 degrees F in the winter; these yogurtsicles freeze outside as well.
Find this recipe and other recipes for making yogurt, several types of cheeses, cottage cheese and buttermilk using powdered milk in my book Cookin’ With Powdered Milk.