Making homemade yogurt is very economical and free of lot of preservatives, needless to say very tasty too. I have always had homemade yogurt when growing up and the ease of finding yogurt in the stores once I moved to US made me want to try them. I do buy the yogurt every now and then if I run short of my homemade supply, but was never able to develop a liking towards it. The texture of the yogurt is the first thing that keeps me away, though now I somewhat like the Greek yogurt, but economically it is just not friendly.
We use a lot of curd/yogurt at home. The rule in our house is anything tastes better with yogurt. So my kids would usually gobble up any food if served with yogurt. This makes it very easy for me to make them try out new food. Also being a South India, thayir saadham/thachi mammam is a must. I end up making about 1 liter of yogurt each night.
I use the Indian store yogurt as a starter or Greek yogurt works well. All that is needed to have a good yogurt is an active culture, boiled milk cooled down to right temperature and warm place in the house to place the yogurt to set. Kind of milk used decides the thickness of the yogurt. If using full fat milk the yogurt will be thicker when compared to using fat free milk. I used to make yogurt from full fat milk for my boys (when they were babies and toddlers) and 2 % for us. Now I just use 2 % milk to make yogurt for the whole family. I also occasionally use 1 % milk to make yogurt (because that is what we use for our coffee), and the end result is not too bad.
Once we start making our own homemade yogurt, we can use that as a culture for the next batch. Most probably the culture from the previous batch remains active for a quite some time, but sometimes for whatever reason the culture might lose its viability. In that case we might have to start it from a new culture. I also notice that prolonged usage of the same batch sometimes causes stringy yogurt. In that case again, I usually change my beginning culture.
I usually boil the milk over the stove top and then cool it down. Use Tupperware containers to set the yogurt in because of the convenience of having a tight fitting lid/cover for it. I cool down the milk to the desired temperature and then pour it into a Tupperware container which has the culture/starter in it. If boiling the milk in the microwave I suggest using Pyrex containers with fitted lids for comfort.
This is my recipe for the kitchen basics - day 2!
Ingredients to make Homemade Yogurt – (makes 1 liter)
- Milk – 1 liter (fat content of your choice)
- Active culture/starter – 2-3 tbsp
- Container with fitted lid
- Warm spot to leave the yogurt to set undisturbed
- Heat the milk and bring it up to a boil over the stove top or in the microwave. Let the milk come up to a boil and then turn off the flame.
- Now let the milk cool down to about 110 F. Do I use a thermometer every time I make yogurt, absolutely not. I usually use my fingers to check for the temperature. The milk should be just in the temperature when you can comfortably keep your fingers inside for about 10 seconds. For beginners though using the thermometer for the first few times will be a good idea. Again, by practice and experience one could find the right temperature that works for them.
- In the container, in which you are going to set your yogurt, which in my case is my Tupperware, add the culture/starter. The amount of starter again depends on the kind of climate you live. If living in a colder climate region I would suggest using more culture when compared to people living in warm humid climate. I use about 2 tablespoons to make my yogurt. If you are using the same container to set the yogurt, wait till the milk comes to the right temperature and then add the culture directly into the milk and mix well. In my case I add the cooled down milk into the Tupperware which has the starter in it.
- Now cover the container and place in a warm place overnight or 6-12 hours depending on where you live. In colder temperatures, it will take longer for the yogurt to set, where as in warm humid place, the yogurt would set in about 4-6 hours.
- Refrigerate the yogurt right after it sets or if you like tangy flavor; leave it out for couple of more hours to make it tangy. Also the yogurt becomes thicker once refrigerated. So I would recommend that you refrigerate it for at least couple of hours before serving.
- If you prefer really thick and creamy homemade yogurt, then strain the set yogurt through muslin cloth and then use it.