Simple Guide to Homemade Yogurt

Last weekend I held a Gut Health workshop, which always includes discussing the importance of probiotics. The topic of probiotics always leads to yogurt-talk, probably because it's the most well-known source of this healthy bacteria. Making your own yogurt is not only inexpensive, but a great way to include a healthy dose of probiotics in the diet. In healthy individuals, over 100 trillion microorganisms live in your intestinal tract. These organisms aid in digestion, absorption, and production of vitamins B, K, and enzymes. They also help to minimize harmful bacteria. These bacteria cover every part of available surface space from your mouth to your anus. When there is an imbalance or disruption of this healthy gut bacteria, the result can be one or several of the following; 

  • acne
  • allergies/sensitivities
  • UTI’s
  • fatigue
  • compromised immunity
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • headaches
  • sinus problems
  • yeast infections
  • bloating
  • IBS
  • recurring infections

Best ways to restore gut ecology: Eat plenty of fresh veggies, non-allergenic proteins, cultured foods (yogurt, kefir, kombucha), probiotic supplements if needed, pumpkin seeds, garlic, onions, herbs (echinacea, oregano, clove, slippery elm) essential fatty acids, and vitamin C. Consider eliminating/minimizing NSAIDS, caffeine, and refined carbs/sugar.

Simple Guide to Homemade Yogurt:

Prep time: about an hour

Culture time: 8-16 hours

Ingredients/tools:

  • Milk: the amount and type is entirely up to you, as the process will remain the same. I’ve done batches as large as half gallon and as small as a few cups. For this batch I used 1 quart of organic whole milk. (Non-dairy milks such as coconut or almond will not work for this particular process, unfortunately.)
  • 2 Tbsp plain organic yogurt as a starter.
  • A glass mason jar or other glass container to store yogurt in
  • Candy thermometer

1. Make sure to sterilize all equipment and utensils that touch your yogurt. You don’t want any foreign bacteria interfering with the cultures in the yogurt.  Boiling water works just fine for this.

2. Pour milk into a saucepan and heat on high over stovetop.  Stay close by, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t burn. You want to heat it to about 180 degrees F.

3. As soon as it hits that 180 mark, remove from heat and allow the milk to cool to about 110 degrees. You can speed up the cooling process by putting milk in freezer, fridge, or submerge saucepan in cold water. 

4. Once the milk is at about 110, stir in yogurt being sure to blend well. Lid your container, and find a warm place to store it for about 8 to 12 hours.

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Notes on the culturing process:

The yogurt cultures like the warmth, we’re talking 80 to 90 degrees. The warmer the milk, the quicker the brewing process will take. If you don’t have a really warm place for it, preheat the oven to its lowest setting, about 100 degrees. Turn the oven OFF, place milk mixture inside for 8 hours. The oven will stay pretty warm even as it cools down. Also, the more the yogurt cultures the more tart tasting it will be. If you like really tart yogurt, be sure to let it brew longer and vice versa. Lastly, the MORE your yogurt cultures, the LESS lactose it contains. So if you tend to be sensitive to lactose, let it brew for 12-15 hours!

When the culturing process is finished, store in fridge. The yogurt will firm up even more after being refrigerated. Serve plain or add in sweetener, vanilla extract, and/or any other toppings that tickle your fancy!

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