We go through yogurt like most families go through bread. I make almost a gallon every week, and we just love it. (See What Homemade Yogurt has Done for My Family.) It’s so packed with goodness in many ways, both gustatorially and nutritionally. (I might have made up a word there; please forgive me! I just mean it’s SO tasty, right?!)
I think yogurt is super easy to make yourself. You must try it. Check out my method for easy homemade yogurt without a yogurt maker…or if you want something even easier – although I didn’t think it possible – keep reading.
Win this product (Link no longer available) through 9/24! I was shocked to read about Cultures for Health’s countertop yogurt cultures. You don’t have to heat the milk at all (and forget cooling it, finding a candy thermometer that works, incubating at the right temp, yadda yadda). You just stir in the correct amount of starter, which can be a bit of yogurt from your last batch, let the jar of milk sit on the counter or in a cupboard, wait 12-18 hours, and you have yogurt. That’s easier than a PBJ sandwich!
You can find this technique and other cultured dairy and cheesemaking lessons in video form at GNOWFGLINS eCourses, where I am an occasional guest lecturer.
Do You Get Excited About the Mail?
I started the cultures during lunch immediately after the package arrived. The instructions have you rehydrate a bit of dried yogurt starter to make just a half cup of yogurt, then use that to make a whole quart that you can eat. It was all I could do to restrain myself from tasting the ½ cup starter!
Once I was sure the quart of yogurt worked, I froze the second half of the starter as insurance in case I kill my starter. (For example, see what I did to my poor kefir grains!) I also have half the dehydrated starter on hand as a secondary backup.
I cannot emphasize more how easy these cultures make yogurt. 24 hours and done. Milk becomes yogurt. You do have to keep your culture going once a week to keep it active (one good reason why I have some backups!), but ultimately that should be easy to do because there’s no work involved – no stove, no pot, water, lugging the cooler up the stairs…yeah baby!
I’ll post on how to make the yogurt with pictures next week, if you’re looking for more details. UPDATE: Here is the how-to make countertop yogurt post.
Our Family’s Reviews
I chose the Viili culture from this page where Cultures for Health very kindly breaks down each of their starters by description. I wanted something thick and mild, and the “most popular” one sounded good to me! However, the finished product leaves a bit to be desired compared to my regular homemade yogurt with Dannon starter.
It’s very thin, but you could drip some whey out in a cheesecloth to thicken it up. My kids liked the yogurt – they’ve been trained to appreciate the tang of plain yogurt without any sweetener. It was more tangy than I could handle, but keep in mind that I didn’t even like yogurt, one bit, until four years ago. I liked it mixed half and half with my regular homemade yogurt (but if I have to do that, why make both kinds anyway?). My husband said he had to add at least twice the sugar to the yogurt to tolerate it, and still didn’t love the flavor.
The Bottom Line
If you want to have yogurt on hand for smoothies, frozen yogurt, or baking, you’ve gotta try a countertop culture. If you are ready to experiment with a new flavor of yogurt, Cultures for Health is absolutely for you. Room temp incubating couldn’t be easier. If you are a newbie to yogurt and tend to like the sweet, flavored stuff, you might want to work yourself up to Viili (or try another culture). If I try another, I’m going for Matsoni next time. It’s still described as thick, and I think I like tart more than sour.
Please check out The Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday for more frugal, healthy, feed-a-crowd ideas.
I am a guest lecturer and partner with GNOWFGLINS eCourses, so I will earn commission from any sales made starting here. Of course, the courses are also an awesome way to learn to cook real food, so I’d gab about them anyway.