Friday, October 5, 2012

How to Make Yogurt (The Middle-Eastern Way)

My family goes through a lot of yogurt. As in, A LOT of yogurt.

Originally, I decided to learn how to make it myself just to cut down on the cost.

Then I discovered that homemade yogurt is WAY BETTER than store-bought yogurt. And that manufacturers put gelatin in their yogurt in order to give it that particular consistency. (That's gross.) I also discovered that what we're calling "Greek yogurt" is basically just yogurt that's had the excess whey strained out of it. (If I understand it correctly, true Greek yogurt must be made from sheep's milk....if I understand what I've read.)

I started off making my yogurt in my Crock Pot, and that's a great way to do it if you're unsure of what you're doing.

Then my friend Sandra, who is married to a man from Lebanon, told me that her mother-in-law taught her to make yogurt the way they do in Lebanon. And as it turns out, it's even easier than making it in my Crock Pot!

You need:
1 gallon of milk (I use 2%)
1 cup of plain yogurt to use as a starter
a stock pot
a towel
a colander
a cheesecloth or thin tea towel (I use a thin tea towel)

Pour the milk into the stock pot and bring to a boil on the stove. When it comes to a boil, remove it from the heat so it can cool a bit. When it is cool enough that you can dip your finger in it for 10 seconds (for me, this takes about an hour), whisk your starter yogurt into the warm milk. **Before you mix the starter yogurt in, you may see a film on the top of the milk. I skim this off first. **  Cover with a lid, wrap a towel around it, and set it on the counter to completely cool.

Once it comes to room temperature (and this will take a few hours), I like to strain off the excess whey to take away some of the tangy bite and to make it a little thicker. This is a totally optional step. Line the colander with a tea towel, and pour the yogurt in and just let it drain. I typically collect the whey, because there's so much that can be done with it (AND I HATE TO WASTE!). Whey can be used to make ricotta, or it can be added to the bread-making process in place of water, used in other lacto-fermented foods, or even given to chickens (I often give whey to my Mother-in-law for her chickens, and apparently they love it).

The next time you make yogurt, you can use your own homemade yogurt as a starter.

I hope you love it as much as we do! :)

This post is linked to Little Natural Cottage, and The Purposeful Mom.

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