Yogurts are deceptively misleading when it comes to nutrition. Sure, they are full of calcium and contain probiotics, which are excellent at regulating your digestive system, but more often than not they also contain a heap of sugar. Since yogurt is essentially milk gone bad, it can be quite tart in its natural state, so manufacturers load up their yogurt with sweeteners to achieve a tastier, creamier yogurt that appeals to more people. But you should never have to sacrifice nutrition for taste. To get the taste and texture you want without all the sugar, why not try making your own yogurt?
I scoured up and down the Wasatch Front looking for a local dairy or health food store that had an easy, tasty homemade yogurt recipe to no avail. Some places, like Winder Farms in West Valley, sell their own yogurt concoctions, but a basic recipe was hard to find. Luckily, it turns out that making your own yogurt is very easy and the process allows you to customize the texture and tartness of the end product.
What you will need:
- 1 Half gallon milk (preferably whole milk to give your yogurt a creamy texture)
- 2-3 Tbsp plain, natural yogurt like Stoneyfields (next time you can use your own)
- Large pot
- Glass jar
- Area to keep yogurt warm (see below)
The process is relatively simple, but proper timing is everything. You basically heat up 2 cups of milk to 180 degrees. Then let it cool to about 110-120 degrees. Then add 1 tbsp plain yogurt and stir thoroughly, then let it sit in a warm spot for at least 4 hours. (See slideshow at left for detailed instructions).
Some tips before you start:
- Use whole fat milk and full fat yogurt. This helps make the yogurt thick and creamy instead of thin and watery.
- The warming period is essential to getting the yogurt right. You can use anything that will keep the yogurt warm and the live cultures active. The hot summers and intense sun we get here in Salt Lake work great for keeping your yogurt warm if you choose to leave it outside (although some people claim that doesn’t work as well). You can also use a small cooler with warm towels or hot water bottle or keep it in a slightly warmed oven. If it isn’t warm enough you may need to leave it out longer. Just keep tasting it to make sure it’s not getting to bitter for you.
- Don’t use plastic for your container. Glass or crocks work best to keep the yogurt insulated
You can eat it plain or add fruit and honey for a sweet kick without a lot of sugar. You can even add fresh mint leaves for a unique twist! If you have difficulty getting the right texture or thickness at first, you may need to keep trying until you get it right, but once you do you will have a tasty summer treat that will keep you cool through these hot Utah summers.