Saturday, May 25, 2013

Homemade Yogurt

I love yogurt, but the ones you buy in the store are either full of sugar or full of fat, depending on if you buy low fat or low sugar... Low fat is high in carbs... Low sugar is high in fat... The fruit in the yogurt is also full of sugar.. Since my husband is a diabetic, and also a yogurt lover, I wanted to figure out how to make yogurt at home with Stevia as the sweetener.

I didn't have a clue how to make it from scratch..I started searching the Internet for answers and found information on yogurt starters, probiotics, and a lot of other things that seemed a bit foreign to me..

I found a yogurt starter on Amazon, which claimed one packet would turn a gallon of milk into yogurt.. Amazon didn't actually sell it.. it came from a vendor in Canada (which I wasn't aware of at the time of purchase).. It was advertised as two packets of starter, but I only received one packet and it took 5 weeks to get here... I followed the directions to a T, but ended up with very runny, nasty smelling something I wouldn't call yogurt... What a waste of money and time....

I decided making yogurt wasn't easy at all and gave up on the idea...

About a year later I decided to try again. This time when I did a search on Google, I found an u-tube video showing an easy way to make yogurt... I tried it, it worked, I was amazed and have been making it ever since..

However, the recipe I found online called for honey as the sweetener and the yogurt wasn't very thick.. Honey is too high in carbs for diabetics and I really like thick yogurt, so I played around until I found the perfect combination.

What you'll need:
One gallon of Whole Milk
4 packets of Knox Unsweetened Gelatine
2 1/2 cups Stevia in the Raw
3 Tbs Vanilla (I use Tahitian Vanilla)
1 small single serving container plain Yogurt
Large Pot
Thermometer (candy/deep fry)
5 Quart Canning Jars Sterilized 
Thermal Cooler Bag
Heating pad

First, you'll want to sterilize your canning jars. You can do this easily in your dishwasher, or wash them in really hot soapy water, rinse them, then either pour boiling hot water in them or heat them in the microwave for 1 minute. 

I find it's super easy to run them through the dishwasher before I start making the yogurt, then leave them inside until I'm ready to fill them.

Pour the gallon of milk into your large pot. Using a whisk, add the four packs of Knox Unsweetened Gelatine. It's important to do this before heating the milk.. In my mind, it should be easier to mix the gelatin in warm milk, but not so.. It just turns to lumps in warm milk, but dissolves pretty easily in cold milk.. 
After the Gelatine is dissolved, add the 2 1/2 cups of Stevia in the Raw.. You can add more or less based on your preference. 
Whisk until the Stevia is dissolved.
Place your pan on a burner set at medium heat. 
Place your candy/deep fry thermometer in the milk.. Make sure to whisk often to keep milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan.. Once the temp reaches 160 degrees, add the 3 Tablespoons of Vanilla. Whisk until blended.. 
Keep whisking until you reach 180 degrees... This happens pretty quickly once you hit 160 degrees, so whisk continually. 

Remove the pan from the heat and let sit until the temp of the milk mixture cools to 110 degrees. 
This normally takes about an hour.  
Every time I walk by it, I give it a good whisk.. Whisking while it cools isn't necessary, but seems to help produce a really creamy yogurt. 

Once the mixture has cooled to 110 degrees, it's time to add the yogurt.. If this is your first time, use the entire single serving container of  plain yogurt.. After adding it, whisk it really good until the yogurt is well blended. Once you've made yogurt, you can use about 4 heaping tablespoons of yogurt from your previous batch for this step. You can continue to do this indefinitely.

Once it's cooled to 110 degrees and you've added the yogurt, you'll need to get your 5 jars ready. Place the funnel in a jar and use the ladle to fill it to the bottom line of the neck. Cap it with your lid, then proceed to the next jar. You'll end up with 4 3/4 quart jars. 

 Now it's time to incubate your yogurt. 
I use a simple zippered thermal cooler bag, heating pad and towel. 

Place the heating pad in the bottom of the cooler and set it on low.  I have an older heating pad that doesn't shut itself off. The newer ones shut off automatically after a programmed time, so you may need to turn it back on from time to time.. 

Place the towel on top of the heating pad, leaving enough free to wrap around your jars. 

You just want to keep them warm.. It's kind of like tucking them into bed :o)

Cover the tops of the jars with the rest of the towel, then zip the cooler shut. Make sure you heating pad is still on and set at low.. 

Your basically done at this point.. Leave your yogurt alone for 6-8 hours, depending on how tangy you want it. I leave mine in the bag for 8 hours.. 
I either make my yogurt in the morning and let it incubate all day, or I make it in the evening and let it incubate over night.. 

Once it's done incubating, remove the jars and put them in the fridge to chill.. In a couple of hours you'll have thick, creamy, delicious, healthy yogurt! 

This yogurt is very thick and creamy, very similar to Greek Yogurt. It's delicious alone, with fruit on it, flavored sugar free syrups, granola, used in smoothies, or my favorite, with a spoonful of melted coconut mana poured over it..
Coconut Mana is really good for you for a number of reasons, but that's for another day and another post!

Our dogs are on a raw food diet, and yogurt is very good for them, too. I make unsweetened, unflavored yogurt for them as well.... They love it! 

One batch of yogurt lasts us about 3 weeks or so.. We eat a dish of yogurt once a day, every day.. We've never had a batch of yogurt go bad.. As soon as the last jar is about half empty, I make a new batch, so we never run out.. 

It really is super easy to make and once you've made a few batches, it just becomes 2nd nature and will become a snap to make!

I added the following info to my sugar free jello post and thought it was a good idea to add it here, too.
I know some people do not approve of unsweetened gelatin products for a variety of reasons.. 
Gelatin is produced by rendering animal body parts.. Gross sounding, I know.. But these animal byproducts contain collagen, which is a natural form of protein and is very good for joint pain, which my husband and I both suffer from.. I remember my mom mixing a pack of it with her orange juice to help strengthen her fingernails when I was young. It's also used for many pharmaceutical applications and was used as a blood plasma substitute in World War II... 

There is a product called Agar that is a vegetarian alternative gelatin made from sea weed, although, I've never used it so I can't say how it works. I've read good reviews about it, though.

You can make this yogurt without the unflavored gelatine, but it won't be as thick.. 
But it will still be just as delicious!