Wednesday

Plain Natural Yogurt: Should You Make Your Own?

I'VE COMPLAINED here more than once about the lack of certain ingredients in the village where I live.

Plain, unadulterated, natural yogurt is one of those things. The kind shown here (organic or not).

I don't consider fat-free or 0% yogurt as "natural" -- just read the list of ingredients!

So I decided to make my own. I needed a recipe, and I found an excellent one here; there's even a series of videos on how to make it.

Then off I went to the big city, where I found the above yogurt: as a bonus, it was organic and it was on sale. The label read:
INGREDIENTS: ORGANIC SKIM MILK, ORGANIC CREAM, ORGANIC SKIM MILK POWDER, ACTIVE BACTERIAL CULTURES. NO PRESERVATIVES.
I don't mind the extra skim milk powder; it's used to make the yogurt thicker and I've been known to use that trick, because yogurt made without it is rather runny. (One tablespoon of skim milk powder per cup of milk is quite enough.)

Why did I buy yogurt in order to make yogurt? Because in order to transform plain milk into yogurt, you need to inoculate your milk with live bacterial cultures. For me, using a good live yogurt is cheaper than buying freeze-dried bacterial culture, because I would have to have the culture shipped from far away, and that makes it prohibitively expensive. And anyway, I wanted it right away.

What To Make With Natural Yogurt?

Hundreds of delicious dishes like those you'll find on yogurt manufacturers' websites, such as this one. Try other manufacturers' sites such as Danone's.

But my favorite recipe is Tzatziki, a traditional greek yogurt, cucumber and garlic dip. I found this recipe on About.com:

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces (2 cups) of thick Greek yogurt
  • 4 to 10 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of diced or grated cucumber (Kirby or "English")
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice

Preparation:

Prepare all ingredients in advance. Combine oil and lemon juice in a medium mixing bowl. Fold the yogurt in slowly, making sure it mixes completely with the oil. Add the garlic, according to taste, and the cucumber. Stir until evenly distributed. Garnish with a bit of green and serve well chilled.
This recipe yields about 2 -1/2 cups. I like to squeeze the cucumber in a towel to get rid of some of the water. You can add 1-2 TB finely chopped fresh dill or mint. Tasty!

If you've been thinking of making your own yogurt, do watch the videos on http://www.makeyourownyogurt.com. You'll be convinced!

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