I have been having a love affair with foodcrafting. I have been romanced by the succulence of a homemade broth, the deep warmth of a homemade vanilla extract, and enamored by spice blends, salt rubs, preserves, mustards, and breads. Today I spent the day learning how to make kefir and yogurt from a neighbor and friend. Our two blonde babies ran around the house like happy little heathens, while she told me this story about yogurt. My friend learned how to make yogurt from an Afgani woman, and she said, “her approach was to treat making yogurt as more of an art than a science”, “the process is awfully forgiving, so just do away with the thermometer and watch and feel the milk”. So, I watched, I felt, and I listened. I was so relieved to find that making yogurt was so approachable. Most store bought yogurt has an out of control laundry list of ingredients that seem so silly, when all you need is some milk and cultures. I made this yogurt from whole organic milk from grass fed cows, and added a touch of vanilla just for funzies. The little flecks of vanilla bean make me happy. Oh, the little things.
Homemade vanilla yogurt…
1 quart organic milk
1 vanilla bean
store bought cultures or 2-3 heaping tbs of left over yogurt with live active cultures
*These quantities are just guidelines and are really flexible. I just let my container determine the amount of milk.
Measure out desired amount of milk. Place in a large pot over medium-low heat. Place cultures/yogurt in the container that you wish to use.
I will let my friend talk you through the rest of the process:
“Watch the milk closely until it starts to bubble, just shy of a simmer, you can see the bubbles rising up off the bottom of the pot slowly. Don’t leave the kitchen during this time, milk scalds so quickly…and I have searched and searched and there is really no way to reuse scalded, burned milk. Then take it off the heat to cool. I usually let it cool until I can touch my hand on the outside of the pot comfortably and leave it there without it burning”.
Then, once the milk has cooled, add a couple tbs to your cultures/yogurt to temper them, then add the rest of the milk and stir. She says, “just remember the cultures are a living organism, so we try and treat them as such by not shocking them with hot milk”.
“I just use recycled (but sterilized) jars…anything with a lid. Also, be mindful of where you put your spoon, you don’t want to cross contaminate your bacteria. Wrap your jar in a towel and put in a warm place to incubate for about 8-12 hours depending on the quantity of yogurt and how warm it is in your home”.
Putting the mixture in the refrigerator will stop the incubation.
*I added a vanilla bean, split in half with the seeds scraped out into the milk during the heating phase for a little vanilla essence. Then once the milk cooled, I removed the bean and poured the milk into my container through a sieve.
Eat together, toast to each other, and share!