How to Make Home Made Yogurt!
True, in the eighties, you couldn’t go to a garage sale without tripping over an electric yogurt maker. Yet, I’ve known only two people who’ve actually made their own yogurt, and they are the ladies who influenced me to do the same. The first went up to Canada’s Northwest Territories in the sixties, stars shining in her idealistic eyes. Living in a big old tent heated with a woodstove, year round no less, she regularly made her yogurt on that very woodstove. She would sew herself into her long underwear in the fall. The other lady was originally from San Francisco, but had moved to a country home in North Idaho. She made fabulous yogurt on her vintage 1950’s gas stove that had a pilot light which perfectly maintained the right yogurt temperature, that is until it blew up a few months ago, nearly taking her home and partner with it. Ouch!
My recipe for home made yogurt is extremely healthy and can be made in anybody’s kitchen, with little effort and no special equipment.
4 cups 1% milk
1/3 cup skim milk powder
2 tablespoons high quality plain yogurt (you can use your own, once you’re started, but if you don’t have any ‘starter’ yogurt, buy a serving size carton in the health food store. Be sure you are buying a ‘pro-biotic’ plain yogurt.)
As early as possible, put your starter yogurt in a draft free spot, to let the little creatures in there throw off their refrigerator chill, and wake up.
Pour the milk into a non-stick pan, and add the skim milk powder. Stirring occasionally, heat till tiny bubbles percolate to the surface. Take off the heat to cool. Immediately turn your oven on. The default heat setting is fine, because you will watch it carefully and turn it off the moment it registers above 100 F. Turn on the oven light to help keep it warm and remind you to take the yogurt out later. It will take at least 30 minutes, perhaps longer, for your milk to become slightly warmer than lukewarm. Check it often. When it feel comfortably warm on your wrist, pour it into the covered container that you’ll keep your yogurt in. (I use a plastic container.) Carefully mix in the starter yogurt. It should be well incorporated into the milk to distribute the creatures.
Check your oven, it should be warm and cozy, but not hot. If the rack is hot to the touch, fold an old tea towel and place it on the rack. Put the container on the tea towel, close the door, and let sit for six hours. After that time has passed, gently tilt your container to see if the yogurt has solidified. If it has, remove it and don’t forget the the tea towel! Cover the container and refrigerate. You can leave the container in the oven for another two hours, but leaving it in there for more than eight hours can make yogurt that’s a little too tangy!
Plain yogurt is a healthy accompaniment to many savoury dishes, and it’s wonderful with fruit and a little honey. Better yet, it’s amazing in a fresh lassi!