Make Your Own Yogurt (and never it buy again)

As you take online cooking courses, you learn how to use yogurt in different recipes. You probably already know that yogurt with active cultures can dramatically improve your digestive health. But did you know that yogurt can be used to make more yogurt? Yogurt is a magical ingredient that can reproduce itself over and over again. Actually, biology is the reason you can make yogurt at home, but really, science is pretty magical.

How it works
You can make yogurt out of existing yogurt because of fermentation. Yogurt is milk fermented using specific bacteria, which thicken the food and give it that characteristic tangy flavor. These bacteria are the “active cultures” that yogurt containers boast about, and the reason yogurt is so good for you.

When you make your own yogurt, those bacteria break down the lactose sugars in the milk, leaving behind lactic acid. Heating the milk to the right temperature and introducing the bacteria are all that needs to happen to make this process work. You introduce that bacteria using yogurt that’s already made: yogurt begets yogurt.

How to do it
Start with a couple of tablespoons of plain yogurt and a half gallon of milk. Make sure the yogurt doesn’t have any flavors or sweeteners added to it, and check the container for the phrase “active cultures.” Generally speaking, it’s good to use a yogurt that you think tastes good: Yogurt’s flavor comes from the bacteria that ferment it, so the yogurt you end up with will taste the same as the yogurt you start with. Prepare a cold water bath, and set up your double boiler.

Using the double boiler and a candy thermometer, heat your milk to 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir the milk as it heats so a skin doesn’t form. Once the milk hits 185 degrees, use the cold water bath to cool it to 110 degrees. Add your yogurt and stir until it’s fully mixed. Cover.

You can do the next step a couple of different ways, depending on what equipment you have. Fermentation can only happen at certain temperatures, so you need to keep the mixture warm for seven hours. You can do this by storing the mixture in an incubator or leaving the mixture in the oven (turned off). You can also place the mixture over a heating pad during the fermentation period. However you do it, leave the mixture alone as it ferments.

After seven hours, stir the mixture well and transfer it to the refrigerator. Leave it in the fridge overnight to allow it to cool completely.

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