Yogurt is a complete protein (it contains all essential amino acids) and is also a healthy source of calcium, magnesium, and other essential vitamins. More importantly its active bacterial cultures aid in digestion. No wonder it’s an important part of any Indian meal.
Making yogurt at home is very simple and it will also save you some bucks. Like most other homemade things, you will love the yogurt you will make at home because
- It tastes much better
- Its healthier with no added preservative, sugar or any thing else you don’t recognize as food
- It’s as much Organic and Natural as the milk and the yogurt you use.
- It’s fresh
- It’s less expensive.
If you use whole milk, you will get fuller, creamier and thicker yogurt and these qualities reduce as the percentage of fat in the milk used. So I generally add some whole milk to 2% to make yogurt with better consistency. I don’t believe in zero-fat foods so I haven’t tried making zero-fat yogurt at home.
Before we make yogurt, let’s see if you know the answer to this question. If we have 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of yogurt, which one do you think has more moisture or more water content? The right answer is they both contain equal amount of moisture. The yogurt contains about 86% of water and milk contains about 87% of water.
So how do we obtain yogurt from milk? We add a small quantity of starter yogurt which contains active bacteria to the milk and let it sit for a while with a lid on it. You will notice there is hardly any evaporation so the moisture content in the milk is preserved. So what happens is when you add the bacteria and let it ferment the milk, the bacteria eat the lactose (the sugar found in milk) and produce lactic acid. The lactic acid will reduce the pH of the milk to 4 to 4.6. Finally it reaches an isoelectric point for the protein when the protein starts coming together and forming a kind of gel matrix. The gel matrix entraps the moisture and you have your yogurt. It’s the protein structure which gives the yogurt its firm consistency and due to the lactic acid, it’s not good if you have acidity issues. In fact it will increase your Pitta if you have sour yogurt without any sugar.
Lactic acid formation definitely benefits from heat. Hence in warmer climates as in certain parts of India, it takes only 3-4 hours for yogurt to set. But if you live in colder regions such as USA, you will have to do something extra to get the temperature right.
Let’s first look at the basic step to make homemade yogurt. You just need two ingredients
The healthy source of protein and calcium!
Preferably use homemade yogurt. (Ask your friends!) Store bought yogurt doesn't always work as it may not contain sufficient bacterias and contains added preservatives.
- Add milk to a medium steel pan and bring it to a boil.
- Let it sit aside to cool down.
- When it's lukewarm add the yogurt and stir the milk in one direction, so that it mixes well.
- Now cover it and let it sit for 4-5 hours. Don't disturb the pot and strictly no peeping!.
To maintain the temperature of the milk, here are some things you can do.
- Preheat oven to 250F and keep the pot inside the oven for 3-4 hours. Switch off the oven as soon as it’s preheated. The heat is sufficient for the bacterias to start doing their job.
- Keep the pot in the sun, it will help only if it’s warm.
- Cover the pot with a blanket and keep it in a warmer area of your kitchen. You might have to keep it overnight.
Once it’s set store it in the refrigerator and make sure you consume it within 3-4 days. For next batch you can now use your homemade yogurt as a starter.
- I love plain yogurt mixed with a pinch of sugar, salt and cumin-coriander powder.
- Blackberries blended with yogurt, topped with honey makes a great breakfast smoothie.
- You can also enjoy it by making raita with cucumber, carrots or onion or try some fruits such as apples or pineapple.
- If you feel adventurous, try this simple pumpkin raita recipe.
- Buttermilk is my favorite after-dinner drink and it’s also a refreshing summer drink!