Eating in our times has gotten complicated and confusing. Sometimes it can be even scary, so eating real food and something simple that has been around since 6000 BC sounds like a perfect alternative. Homemade yogurt has no preservatives, stabilizers, flavorings, thickeners, dyes or sugars. Now what’s wrong with that? The first thing you notice when tasting homemade yogurt is that it’s much tangier, smoother, creamier and it has a clean fresh flavor.
I used to purchase Greek yogurt, not anymore. I’m fermenting 1 gallon of milk every week making fresh homemade yogurt. There is nothing wrong with store purchased yogurt, however most store purchased yogurts are only fermented for a very short time and they do not have as much healthy bacteria that homemade yogurt has. The health benefits of yogurt are impressive, nutrient rich and an excellent source of vitamins and minerals for its calories!
If you want to make Greek yogurt, set a sieve over a bowl and line the colander with cheesecloth. Pour your yogurt into the cheese cloth lined sieve and let it sit in the refrigerator for 2 to 6 hours to drain.
I use Mason jars and sterilize them by pouring boiling water into them and letting it stand, then draining it before adding the yogurt mixture. I place the yogurt filled jars in the oven overnight with the oven light turned on. There is no need to check every hour or so; just relax and let the little invisible creatures (Bacteria) take over. To ferment yogurt, the optimal temperature should be around 115 F and keep the yogurt undisturbed for at least 12 to 15 hours. A 24 hour incubation time is as perfect as it gets. The longer you ferment your milk, the thicker and more tangier your yogurt will be and include more beneficial bacteria.
There are several “high tech” yogurt machines out there and they work great. However, the simple oven method works for me. The important thing is to select a good milk. I use organic 2 % milk. After the yogurt has fermented for 24 hours, I always keep 3 to 4 tablespoons as a starter for my next batch. It is the cheapest and best starter out there. Yogurt will keep in your refrigerator for about 14 days if held at 40 F or lower. If you ever need to, you can place the starter in your freezer for later use.