Thursday, February 18, 2010

28 Day Real Food Challange: Day 17 - Making Yogurt at Home

I have some plain yogurt and I have milk although not raw. I've been wanting to make my own yogurt at home the same way I want to make butter. Another challenge is to find the starter culture but I'll try it with the plain yogurt I have at the moment. By the way, if you eat fruit-flavored yogurt like I used to, continue reading, as some local products still contain a lot of sugar. You can actually make your own fruit-flavored yogurt at home.

Here's Day 17 from Nourished Kitchen.

We're continuing this week's discussion of naturally probiotic, fermented foods and their value to your health today by touching on yogurts and cultured dairy foods.

Cultured dairy foods, like all traditional foods, enjoy a long history, but it might surprise to learn that the number of cultured dairy foods far exceeds the yogurt and kefir you find in the dairy section of your supermarket. Moreover, cultured dairy foods are easy to prepare in your own kitchen.

Culturing dairy products like milk and cream helps to optimize nutrient density, indeed, not only are cultured dairy foods rich sources of food enzymes and beneficial bacteria, but they're also quite rich in B vitamins. Indeed, the longer you allow kefir, a cultured dairy food, to ferment the richer a source of folate it becomes.

Cultured dairy foods, like yogurt, can be easily divided into two categories: mesophilic or thermophilic. Mesophilic starters will culture at room temperature. An example of a mesophilic cultured dairy product is kefir - to prepare it you simply mix fresh milk with milk kefir grains (see sources) and allow it to sit at room temperature while the beneficial strains of bacteria do their work, eating up the naturally present milk sugars and converting them to lactic acid which accounts for the tangy flavor of kefir and other cultured dairy foods. Thermophilic starters will culture milk products in a slightly warm environment, the yogurt you find on super market shelves is a good example of this technique. Different bacteria strains require different environments.

Mesophilic: Mesophilic yogurts culture best at room temperature, and, for this reason, they require no expensive equipment or temperature monitoring. If you are short on time, or are looking for an easy way to prepare natural yogurts and cultured dairy products in your home, a mesophilic starter will be your best bet. Examples of mesophilic cultured dairy foods include kefir which originates in the Caucasus as well as piima, fil mjolk and viili which are room temperature yogurts of Scandinavian origin, each of which offer their own, unique characteristics. Bonny clabber, which is also a wild ferment in that it relies on the beneficial bacteria inherently found in raw milk rather than a starter culture, is also a mesophilic cultured dairy food.

To prepare a room temperature, or mesophilic yogurt, simply combine about two tablespoons of starter to one quart fresh milk or cream in a glass jar, and allow it to sit, covered, at room temperature for 1 to 3 days, or until the yogurt cleanly separates from the glass jar when tilted. Refrigerate and serve.

You can purchase room temperature yogurts online (see sources) or see if there's anything posted on the cultures and starters exchange.

Thermophilic: Most yogurts that you've enjoyed are likely to be thermophilic yogurts, including the yogurts you can purchase from your super market or health food store. These yogurts culture best at a temperature slightly above body temperature or around 104 degrees to 110 degrees.

To prepare thermophilic yogurt, you need to acquire a starter culture. You can purchase starter cultures online (see sources) or even head to your local supermarket and pick up a small container of plain yogurt to use as your starter. Stir two tablespoons of starter culture into 1 quart milk and pour the mixture into a yogurt maker (you can also use a slowcooker for a different method) and leave overnight or up to twelve hours. Refrigerate the yogurt after it has adequately cultured so that it will firm up a bit and solidify.

Today's assignment is to make your own homemade cultured dairy food, whether its kefir, a room temperature yogurt or classic, thermophilic yogurt.

Day #17 Check List:

Culture your own yogurt:

  • Prepare either a mesophilic yogurt or a thermophilic yogurt.
  • If your kitchen is well stocked with yogurt and kefir already, why not try preparing bonny clabber by taking a quart or so of fresh raw milk (no, pasteurized will NOT work) and setting it on your counter to clabber in a few days time. Traditionally, bonny clabber was served with nutmeg and, occasionally, a touch of molasses.
Further Reading:
Interested in learning more about the role of cultured dairy foods in traditional diets?
I must admit I am catching up on this challenge. But I've printed the past few articles and their related contents. But so far I'm enjoying it.

Love and light,


  1. Very informative post. Thanks for sharing. I used to make my own yoghurt but not these days. Easier to buy. Used to buy the yoghurt starter from my Dr and made with a yoghurt maker. The yoghurt came out perfect each time.

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  3. I never made yogurt at home, but sounds like fun. I should try. :-)

  4. glad to learn something from kids and I love fruit-flavored yogurt.. Are the starters available only online? I would love to try making home made yogurt too.
    Thanks Divine!!

  5. Your experiments are terribly intriguing. I only wish there was some way I could get my hands on unpasteurized milk- the possibilities are incredible. The yogurt and bonny clabber you speak of here as well as clotted cream and other delicious items.

  6. Yoghurt! Well, “Matsoni” with a distinctive runny texture, which Japanese calls “Caspian Sea Yoghurt”, was once a huge boom in Japan. It’s almost gone, but our yoghurt craze never fades out!!

  7. Divina,
    Thanks for sharing, very detailed info.
    I've ever thought of making yogurt at home, often get it from supermarket.
    Would the products available at supermarkets be added some preservatives or other things? I think the home-made is the best.

  8. Always wanted to try making my own but I am so lazy! I try to get organic yoghurt only but good on you for experimenting.

  9. Oh, boy, was this timely. I have some plain yogurt and some organic milk, but the milk is pasteurized. My oven has a special low temperature setting for proving dough and making yogurt. I think I"m going to try some yogurt--it seems easy. I'm sure I'll find the difficulties! But this seems to be so easy that it's surely worth a try.

    Thank you!

  10. Do you allow yourself to take supplements with your diet? I suggest you take probiotics supplements instead of yogurt if you really need more good bacteria. supplements can give you more good bacteria rather than yogurt.


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