Friday, February 25, 2011

Frugal Food: Making Yogurt

My grandmother passed away this year and during all the hullabaloo about cleaning out her apartment we found an old Salton yogurt maker. My mother wistfully remembered the days of yore when my grandmother used to enjoy making her own yogurt. Nobody in the family thought about taking the yogurt maker until I showed up and rescued it from the trash pile. Why buy yogurt when I could make it for a lot less myself?

There were several things that got in my way. First I had to ascertain if the yogurt maker still worked. When plugged in it seemed to heat up the little glass cups nicely. I figured it was still functional. Second was the fact that there were no instructions and the most anyone remembered about what my grandmother did was that there was milk involved. A day of googling ensued.

It appears that Salton is still manufacturing home yogurt machines. There were also several interesting websites on home yogurt production. The process is really very simple. You boil milk (185 farenheit) and then let it cool to an optimal temperature (about 110 Farenheit). When it reaches this optimal temperature you thrown in a little room temperature "starter culture". This starter culture is just a little bit of existing yogurt. At this point you divvy up the mixture into covered glass containers and incubate them in the yogurt maker. It incubates for 12 hours. I put in when I got home from work and let it go until the next morning.

For the adventurous who want to try this without a yogurt maker, you can incubate your yogurt in the oven at 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Sometimes an oven with the pilot light left on works best for this.

The results were beautifull. When I woke up I had a nice thick yogurt waiting for me. You can add various flavorings like preserves, honey or vanilla right before eating. Just remember to save a little bit of yogurt to use as the starter culture for your next batch. This was fun, easy and a lot less expenssive than purchasing yogurt.

My favorite yogurt, Greek yogurt,  requires one extra step. You must use a starter culture of Greek yogurt and then strain the finished product with a bouillon strainer or a cheesecloth. Greek yogurt costs an arm and a leg so I am thrilled to try this process at home as well!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe. I have been searching all over the internet for a recipe for leben. My kids love chocolate leben but its so expensive where I live. I'd love to make it homeade. It has a different taste than yogurt so I dont think a yogurt recipe would work. Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

good question. i would also like to know how to make leben, i have a lot of extra milk in the house. and yes leben is very expensive anywhere you live. i dont know exactly why. maybe cause kids love it ant its a good way to rip off good jewish people.

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