Yogurt has been added to the latest list of Superfoods, because of its high calcium content, protein and B vitamins, and how its live cultures help maintain a delicate balance in the body, promoting healthy digestive and immune systems. But superfood or not, we all love Yogurt, even my toddler girl is a huge yogurt fan, and how wonderful it would be if we could have the perfect recipe to make fresh yogurt at home!
Used to eating fresh homemade curd in India, it gets a little unsettling when you can’t do the same in US! Yogurt is the Turkish word for milk that has been curdled with a lactic starter. And though something as simple as Yogurt should not need a recipe – its just the lactobacilli multiplying over time to curdle the milk, right – there are some special tricks and tips that will make the process a smooth one. So for all the folks who have tried in vain to make yogurt at home, give this recipe a hot, and tell me if it works for you or not.
Homemade Curd Recipe
The success of curd-making really depends on the type of active culture; try using the sour (Indian) variety if possible, and you’ll get the best results! I generally borrow the yogurt culture from an Indian friend; even the sour one bought from Indian grocery stores works fine. But Yogourmet, which is a freeze-dried yogurt starter, has also worked well for me in the past. Just make sure you are using a starter with Live Active Probiotic cultures.
1 gallon whole milk
2 tbsp yogurt starter or active culture
1/2 cup dried powdered milk (optional, for thicker yogurt)
First, bring the milk to a complete boil, reduce the heat and simmer it for few minutes till a layer of cream forms on top of the milk. Turn off the heat and let the milk cool down to lukewarm level (about 115 degrees if you are using a Thermometer). Now add the live active culture of yogurt to this milk. Stir it once and cover the vessel with a lid.
Keep the container in an oven or in a microwave (they act like incubators) undisturbed for about 8 to 12 hours. You can even turn on the light in the oven – it generates more heat and faster incubation. After this period, the milk should have curdled enough, giving you a lovely homemade curd that is fresh and flavorful! You can transfer it to the refrigerator for further storage.
Making Yogurt is not rocket-science, but a few simple tips can help you make this a fulfilling experience:
1. After boiling the milk and before adding the culture, don’t transfer the milk to other container. Use the same container for both boiling milk as well as for the incubation.
2. Add culture when milk is still warm, like 5 minutes after you take it off the stove. Don’t let it cool down too much or it won’t curdle.
3. Add at least one tablespoon of culture, and probably more if you are up in the north with a colder climate!
4. After adding the culture, keep the milk in a warm place like an oven or microwave with the light switch on. It really helps foster the incubation, particularly during cold winter months. Or you can use the Yogurt maker for the incubation phase.
5. If you like thick curd or yogurt, add 1/2 cup of dried powdered milk to the whole milk before boiling. Indian curd is a bit runny, so i don’t add any powdered milk to my recipe.
If you are going to be making yogurt a lot, and would like to invest in a Yogurt Maker, that is not a bad idea too. It will save you loads of time, guarantee a perfect flavor and consistency each time, irrespective of the weather, and is not too expensive to cause a dent in your pocket, like the Yogourmet Electric Yogurt Maker, priced at a reasonable 50 bucks. I am no longer frustrated that I can’t make curd/yogurt at home. These tips have helped me master the technique, and I hope they help you too!