I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with yogurt for the past ten years or so. I eat it in spurts, and began eating it after college when I worked in an office as breakfast or an afternoon snack. It wasn’t until much later when I began learning more about sugar, aspartame and added ingredients, that I realized that my fruit-flavored yogurt wasn’t really all that good for me at all. I’ve tried plain yogurt a couple of times in the recent past, but I really didn’t care much for the taste at all. I started adding honey, but really didn’t want to add extra sweetener, as I felt it defeated the purpose of eating plain yogurt. This summer, my taste buds did a 360. I tried the plain yogurt again with fresh fruit, and voila! Somehow, I liked it and didn’t feel the need for any additional sweetener. Naturally, my next step was to make it at home.
This was my first successful homemade dairy product, and I was beyond thrilled! I’ve tried mozzarella more than a couple of times now, and have yet to achieve great results. The yogurt really could not have been easier to make. Simply heat up milk in a saucepan, let it cool down, whisk in a little bit of plain yogurt as a starter, then let it incubate and work its magic. For true Greek-style yogurt, the yogurt is strained of the whey so that it’s even thicker and creamier.
I thought this yogurt was absolutely fantastic. Thick, creamy, tangy and the perfect flavor. You could even stir in 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract for additional flavor, if you’d like. While a few recipes that I found called for dry milk powder as an optional ingredient, I chose to leave it out. I wanted more of a pure, clean product, and was very happy with these results.
This summer, I’ve been pairing my plain yogurt with either mango or nectarine, and a handful of pistachios. I love having it for breakfast, as it keeps me full for a pretty long time. What’s your favorite way to enjoy yogurt?
1. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a large glass bowl; set aside. Heat the milk over medium-low heat (do not stir while heating), until the milk reaches 185 degrees F. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to 160 degrees F. Strain the milk through the prepared strainer and let cool, gently stirring occasionally, until the milk registers 110 to 112 degrees F.
2. In a small bowl, gently stir about ½ cup of the warm milk into the yogurt until smooth. Stir the yogurt mixture back into the milk. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and poke several holes in the plastic. Place the bowl in the oven and turn on the oven light, creating a warm environment of 100 to 110 degrees F. Let the yogurt sit undisturbed until thickened and set, 5 to 7 hours. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator until completely chilled, at least 3 hours.
3. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a 4-cup or 8-cup measuring cup and line with a double layer of coffee filters or cheesecloth. Transfer the yogurt to the prepared strainer, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until about 2 cups of liquid have drained into the measuring cup, about anywhere from 4 to 8 hours (I left mine for a long time and it plateaued at about 1.5 cups).
Transfer the strained yogurt to an airtight container or jar, discarding the strained liquid. The yogurt can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.