Have you read your yogurt label lately? If you want to avoid artificial ingredients and all that added sugar, make your own yogurt at home. A yogurt maker is the convenient answer, but you can also make homemade yogurt with a Mason jar and a warm space in your kitchen.
Health benefits of yogurt
Yogurt is inherently a super food, rich in protein, calcium and probiotics. If you’re on a weight-loss mission, the protein in yogurt can help you feel full longer and eat fewer calories. The calcium (and vitamin D in some brands) in this dairy delight can boost your bone health and ward off osteoporosis. Research suggests that the probiotics (active cultures) that are teeming in yogurt can reduce the risk of colon cancer, improve immune system function, aid in alleviating constipation and diarrhea, prevent yeast infections and promote the absorption of vitamins and minerals. In addition, creamy dreamy yogurt is a healthy comfort food that you can eat at home or on-the-go.
What’s in commercial yogurt?
The very best commercial yogurts have a small ingredients list with ingredients that have familiar real food names. A tasty example is celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s fave choice, Fage Total Greek Yogurt, whose plain variety is made simply with milk, cream, and live active cultures. However, many popular commercial yogurts are made with high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, gelatin, artificial flavors, artificial dyes and more. The next time you’re in the dairy section of your supermarket, read the labels of the various commercial yogurts — the ingredients may surprise you. Choose the yogurt with the least — and most natural — ingredients or make your own yogurt.
Why make your own yogurt?
Yogurt is basically cultured milk or cream to which you can add sweeteners, fruit purees or fresh fruit. When you make your own yogurt at home, you have control over the ingredients, which means you can adjust the sweetness to your liking, using honey, maple syrup, sugar or another sweetener of your choice, and keep it as natural as can be.
Homemade yogurt in a yogurt maker
If you’re a kitchen gadget fanatic, a yogurt maker is for you. We tested the following DIY yogurt recipe with the new T-Fal Balanced Living Yogurt Maker, which gives you the ability to make seven 5.5-ounce jars of yogurt in 8 to 12 hours. It also features a digital timer, an audible ready signal and automatic shut-off.
Basic homemade yogurt in a Mason jar
Super simple, this two-ingredient yogurt recipe, using a Mason jar, is ready in eight hours. You can add maple syrup or another sweetener, if desired.
Yields about 1 quart
- 3-1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- Sterilize a 1-quart Mason jar.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, heat milk to about 110 degrees F.
- Remove from heat and whisk in yogurt.
- Pour into the prepared Mason jar and cover with a clean kitchen towel.
- Place jar in a warm place in your kitchen.
- Let yogurt sit overnight.
- Pour off any excess water, seal with a lid and store in the refrigerator.
Maple vanilla yogurt
You can use a small container of plain yogurt as the starter or purchase a freeze-dried yogurt starter at your health food store or online. If you’re using plain yogurt, be sure to choose a brand that has live active cultures.
- 1 (6 ounce) container plain whole milk yogurt
- 1 cup cream
- 3-1/2 cups 2% or whole milk
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients.
- Pour mixture into the yogurt jars that come with the yogurt maker. Seal with the lids.
- Place jars in the yogurt maker and cover with lid.
- Set yogurt maker timer to 11 hours.
- When yogurt is done, let it cool on the counter then store in the refrigerator. The yogurt will seem thin when it is still warm but will thicken up as it cools.
Cook’s note: The yogurt, cream and milk in this recipe came straight out of the refrigerator. If you combine the ingredients and let them come to room temperature, reduce the cooking time to nine hours.