Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cheryl's Homemade Yogurt

Cheryl Huntington is my silly but sweet mother-in-law and she taught me this wonderful recipe. She loves to use as many all natural ingredients as possible as she's very much into organic and healthy recipes and foods. So milk products that aren't homogenized are recommended but not necessary.


-1 gallon of either whole milk, 2% or nonfat milk (the level of fat in the milk affects the texture of the yogurt so richer milk will make it creamier, but if you want healthier yogurt, it will still work. You can also use half and half which will make it super creamy or a combo of milks. It's up to you.)
-1 C nonfat powdered milk
-1 to 1 1/2 C fructose or regular white sugar (depends on how sweet and/or healthy you want it).
-1-2 small cartons of yogurt with the flavor of your choice. (It seems silly to use yogurt to make more yogurt but the culture is what we're after here. You can find culture in a health food store but it's just easier to use a small carton of yogurt as your culture starter).
-1 1/2 TBSP Danncy's Mexican vanilla. This brand makes all the difference. Trust me. It's hard to find too, but it is available online.
-2-3 TBSP of extract to match the flavor of your culture starter. So if you are using a strawberry yogurt starter, you'll want a strawberry extract. Or you are welcome to experiment with mixing flavors.

Heat the milk in a large kettle and check the temperatures with a candy thermometer stirring slowly to keep from scorching. You don't want to stir it too fast because too many air bubbles will change the texture of the yogurt. These are the three numbers you'll need to keep your eye on: 150, 180 and 115 degrees. Bring the milk to 150 degrees slowly at a medium to low heat. You don't want to boil it or it will make the yogurt taste burned. When it reaches 150, separate 2 cups of the heated milk into a bowl and mix in the dry powdered milk and the sugar. You mix it separately and then pour it back into the kettle. This makes it so you don't add too many air bubbles into the mixture. Then keep stirring slowly until it reaches 180 degrees. Hold it there for about 5 minutes. You'll need to have an ice bath ready in the sink to then bring the yogurt to 115 degrees before adding the culture and flavorings. Too high a heat will kill the culture and too low a heat may not incubate it well. When it reaches 115, separate 2 Cups into another bowl again and add the culture and other flavorings. Stir well. Pour back into the kettle mixture and incorporate, again without too much vigorous stirring. It is now yogurt. But it must incubate first. You may either just take the kettle itself and stick it into a box on a heating pad set to medium heat or pour mixture into mason canning quart jars. These make for nice gifting as well. Let stand for 12 hours. After 12 hours, place in fridge to cool. The top of the yogurt may seem gritty. You can just scrape that off and toss it or eat it if you'd like. The whey may separate slightly so a good stir once the yogurt is set is all it really needs. Eat and enjoy over fruit, pancakes, waffles or cereal. You may never go back to normal yogurt again.

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