Whoo hoo! My yogurt maker works like a charm! When I was little my mother had a yogurt maker, and I always loved her yogurt. So, about a month or so ago, I decided that I really wanted a yogurt maker of my own. Partly to be closer to my mother, partly because I really like good yogurt.
I did my research online and settled on the Salton YM9 1 Qt Yogurt Maker. I decided that I’d rather have a 1 quart style than one with the little 6 oz cups, because there are fewer parts to get lost and/or break over time, and I had read that if the Salton YM9′s 1 quart tub
cracked, a Mason Jar or 1 quart Chinese food soup container could be substituted. It seems, however, that production of this particular yogurt maker has been halted, so off I went to Ebay to get myself a yogurt maker. (The going rate after you factor in shipping seems to be $60-$80 .)
Of course, timing is everything, and when it arrived my refrigerator was packed with a seedless watermelon and a large batch of Black Beans & Rice a la Menke. So, I had to wait until the refrigerator cleared before I could take my yogurt maker for a test drive. Happily, I finally ate my way through all that delicious food, and yesterday was the day!
The flavor of plain yogurt depends on three things: The milk you use (I recommend organic whole milk.) , the yogurt starter culture (You can use a few tablespoons of any plain yogurt with live cultures as your starter.), and how long you let it incubate (The longer you let it incubate the thicker and more tart it will be.).
A few years ago I discovered the best yogurt I have ever eaten, Liberté Méditerranée yogurt, made by a Canadian company that specializes in organic dairy products and probiotics. It was so good, it reminded me of WHY I used to like yogurt in the first place. (Just a warning they use BOTH milk and cream to create the richest, creamiest yogurt you have ever had – t is addictive.) In addition to being lusciously creamy, the probiotic cultures that they use gives Liberté Méditerranéeyogurt a flavor that is naturally almost sweet. So I knew I wanted to use their yogurt as my starter culture.
Because I couldn’t find Liberté plain yogurt in the market, I bought a container of their Plum & Fig fruit on the bottom yogurt and just took as much of the yogurt off the top as I could recover before I reached fruit. I heated 3 and a half cups of organic grass-fed milk in the microwave and then let it cool to room temperature according to the instructions, mixed in my starter, poured it all into my new yogurt maker, put the lid on and walked away.
Four and a half hours later I came back, shook the tub to see if it had set, and yes indeed it had. I had just made my first batch of organic yogurt! I sampled a test spoonful, and wonder of wonders, it was delicious, and had the same naturally sweet, mellow flavor of the Liberté yogurt. Hooray! Success 🙂
I put it in the refrigerator to cool and then two hours later used it to make an Orange Blossom Scented Mango Lassi.
Because this vegetarian recipe for organic yogurt was so good and so easy, I am going to include the yogurt recipe here. If you don’t have a yogurt maker (and I suspect that you don’t), you can also put your milk and starter culture in a covered container on top of a radiator (provided it’s not too hot), or wrap your covered container in a heating pad (Perfect for Mason Jars) or, if it is really hot out, simply let it sit in the sun. (I am just theorizing on that last one, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Just make sure your container is covered.) This is a natural process after all…
If you want delicious yogurt and DON’T want to make your own, seek out Liberté Méditerranée yogurt. If you grocer doesn’t carry it, it’s worth asking for by name. They have fabulous flavors like Plum & Fig, Orange & Mango, Black Berry, Coconut, Plum & Walnut (my personal favorite) and Lemon.
Yogurt Recipe – Even if you don’t have a Yogurt Maker, you can get creative (see the suggestions above)*
- 3 1/2 cups milk (whole, 2%,1% or skim)
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt with live active cultures
1. Milk can be heated in a microwave oven. In uncovered yogurt container, heat milk at full power (high) for 8 to 10 minutes or just below the boiling point. Do not allow milk to boil. Carefully, remove the container from microwave as the milk will be very hot. (If you don’t like microwaves, you can also heat your milk in a sauce pan over medium heat, stirring frequently to just below boiling point. Remove milk from heat and allow milk to cool until lukewarm, (between 100°F and 110°F). To cool the milk quickly, place sauce pan into the refrigerator or sink of cold water stirring occasionally to cool evenly. This takes about 20 minutes. Do not add any flavorings or sweeteners before completing the yogurt making process.
2. Pre-warm your yogurt maker heating base by plugging power cord into a 120V AC electric outlet. Signal light will glow when plugged in.
3. Add plain yogurt or yogurt starter to the warm milk, stirring gently to blend. Do not beat or whip. Pour mixture into yogurt container, secure lid and place covered container into heating base. Cover yogurt maker and allow to incubate undisturbed and away from air drafts for 4 – 10 hours until it reaches the desired consistency and tartness. Yogurt should be partially set (jiggle in the center) after processing and will thicken further when refrigerated. If not partially set, process another hour until set.
4. After processing, unplug cord from outlet. Remove cover and lift covered yogurt container out of the heating base. Place in refrigerator. Chill at least 2 hours. Remove 1/2 cup of yogurt for future use as a starter before adding desired fruit, flavoring or sweeteners. Keep yogurt refrigerated until use.
*If you have health issues that might compromise your immune system and/or are pregnant, consult your physician before making homemade yogurt. The process of making yogurt from this organic yogurt recipe, and any variations on it and/or on the yogurt making apparatus, are undertaken at your own risk.