And now, for something completely different:
I admit, I am not a fan of store-bought yogurt. I have tried them all – no matter what their names are, no matter who manufactures them. None of the commercial yogurts I have tried can live up to my expectations. Sure, there are some that I will happily eat – but they are just about impossible to get in the US. There's a Swiss yogurt by Emmi that comes in a glass jar. I like it – but I have not been able to purchase it here in the US and I can only imagine the price tag it would carry if I found it somewhere. While I am able to obtain some yogurt by Emmi here in the US, the local variety seems to use a decidedly different recipe and was unable to convince me.
There's also a German yogurt by Landliebe that, again, comes in a glass jar and which I find rather acceptable. Just like the Emmi yogurt, it cannot be found in the US.
You see, I like my yogurt to be extra creamy and while there are some brands available that have plenty of cream on top, they still struck me as too sour and/or too pungent. Most of them also seemed to be loaded with Aspartame – and I decided long ago, that I could live my entire life without ever being exposed to it again.
I also like my yogurt to contain raspberries when it says “Raspberry” on the label. I don't want it to contain 5% raspberries and 95% whatever fruit cocktail and flavor enhancers the manufacturer was able to come up with for the lowest price possible.
In short, I find most yogurt to be pathetic.
This, then, is where this recipe comes in. Be forewarned, though: Making yogurt takes time – although not a lot of effort, and it requires a special yogurt maker. Fortunately, yogurt makers are readily available at stores such as Williams-Sonoma or online. There are two different kinds: Those that make a big batch of yogurt in one container, and those that make individual jars. I prefer individual jars. Yogurt makers can be had for as little as US$20 – NEW!
Since quite a bit of time is necessary to get your final result, plan accordingly. Know that you yogurt will have to ferment in the yogurt maker for about 12 hours. Thus, I like to make my yogurt at night. I tend to put it into the yogurt maker at around 9 pm and let it ferment overnight. In the morning, I take it out, put it in the fridge, and by noon I am ready to eat some delicious and fresh yogurt.
You will also need a candy (or Instant/Quick Read) thermometer.
Making your own yogurt has several advantages:
It is infinitely superior in taste and consistency to any yogurt you can purchase in a store.
You get to determine what is in your yogurt.
If you or your child are lactose intolerant, you can opt for alternatives, such as UHT Soy Milk that contains fructose, honey, or malt (they are necessary for fermentation).
It is oddly satisfying to make – and fun for the kids.
While some people obtain great results using a store-bought yogurt as a starter, I find that my results are much better with an actual yogurt culture. The one I use is by EuroCuisine (incidentally also the manufacturer of my yogurt maker) and you will find it listed in the recipe.
I also want to briefly talk about milk: I find that using a high quality milk produces a better and creamier yogurt than your average run-of-the-mill store brand. I don't go crazy with my purchase here – don't get me wrong. I simply purchase “Promised Land” milk which is available at my local grocery store for a reasonable price and have loved the results. If you don't like the particular outcome of your yogurt-making experience, try a different milk next time. You will be surprised what a difference it can make.
1 Quart of high-quality Milk.
1 Pouch of Yogurt starter (or 1 Cup of plain yogurt – such as Greek).
¾ Cup of your favorite berries: Strawberry, Raspberry, Blackberry, Blueberry – or a mixture of various berries. Fruit can be fresh or frozen.
12 Tbs of Sugar (more or less, depending on your particular preferences).
¼ Cup of Water
Pour the milk into a sauce pan and heat to 180 degrees. Don't let the milk boil for any excessive time – it simply needs to be hot.
Turn stove off and let milk cool. Before you add yogurt culture, your milk needs to cool to 110 degrees. Otherwise, you will kill the yogurt cultures and your yogurt will NOT ferment.
Add the fruit to a separate sauce pan.
Add all of the sugar.
Add a dash of Vanilla Extract.
Add the Water
Turn heat to high and stir until the berries break apart and the mixture starts bubbling.
Reduce heat to low and let simmer until gooey.
Turn off heat and let fruit cool down to at least 110 degrees or less.
Making your yogurt:
Spoon the fruit mixture into the yogurt jars so that each jar contains a roughly equal amount.
Pour the yogurt starter into a larger measuring cup with a spout to make it easier to full the yogurt jars.
Add the milk to the yogurt culture. Add a little bit at first and allow the culture to dissolve by swishing it around. Then add the rest of the milk and stir to ensure the culture is evenly distributed.
Pour the warm milk into the glass jars.
Put the filled jars into your yogurt maker – but do NOT put the small lids onto the jars. Put the lid onto your yogurt maker and let boil for 12 hours.
Remove jars, cover with lids, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.