Crave: Make your own yogurt at home

photo by: Mother Earth News

Making yogurt at home is simpler than it sounds — it only takes two ingredients, a yogurt incubator and some patience.

You will need an incubator to keep the yogurt at a consistent temperature while it sets up. Purchasing a home incubator can save you money in the long run if you go through a lot of yogurt.

Homemade yogurt is best enjoyed fresh, but it will keep for a week or two in the fridge. Once you’ve made one batch of yogurt, you can save some of it to use as a starter for the next batch, but note that it will decline in effectiveness after five to seven days.

Yogurt

Ingredients:

1 quart milk, preferably unhomogenized

1 tablespoon yogurt starter or yogurt with live cultures

Directions:

In heavy-bottom saucepan, slowly bring milk to 180 degrees over low heat, checking the temperature frequently. Stir often to keep the milk sugars from burning and sticking.

Remove pan from heat and pour milk into separate bowl. Let milk cool to 110 or 115 degrees. (To speed the cooling process, you can set the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice and stir regularly. Be sure to monitor temperature carefully.)

In separate small bowl, mix about 1⁄2 cup milk with starter, then pour mixture into rest of milk. Stir to combine.

Pour inoculated milk into incubator and keep container at approximately 110 degrees for at least several hours. Avoid jostling container while yogurt sets.

Most yogurt will set to custard-like texture in 3 to 4 hours, but you might like the results better after 6 to 8 hours. The longer the yogurt incubates, the tangier and grainier it will get. At the same time, the longer it ferments, the more lactose will be removed.

After a few hours, check yogurt by gently removing a small spoonful without jiggling the rest of the yogurt. Check every half-hour or so. Refrigerate yogurt when it has reached desired consistency and taste.

Tzatziki Sauce

This simple sauce is traditionally paired with Mediterranean pita sandwiches filled with gyro meat or falafel. It’s also delicious as a dip for toasted bread or raw vegetables. Try it on grilled lamb burgers, too. Yields 2 1⁄2 cups.

Ingredients

1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced or grated

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 garlic cloves

2 teaspoons fresh dill

2 teaspoons fresh mint

Juice of half a lemon

2 cups strained yogurt

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Place cucumber in a strainer and set the strainer over a bowl. Sprinkle salt over cucumber and let it drain for half an hour.

Chop garlic and herbs or crush with a mortar and pestle.

Stir herb mixture, cucumbers and lemon juice into yogurt. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled.

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