My husband has often remarked that John Seymour missed out in not marrying me. Leaving aside the obvious generational problem, I'd mostly agree. I have this very odd drive to make "homemade" everything. I make ricotta, yogurt, cheese, sausage, soap, and I'm sure I'd give bacon and a clay brick oven a try if I had the time. I certainly have the inclination it would seem. I've always been fascinated with making my own "stuff". I go through phases where I do a lot of DIY things and then I run out of energy, but I always seem to come back to it. Lately I've been making a lot of ricotta, soap and yogurt. Not necessarily together or in that order.
There's something very satisfying about making your own basic things. I'm a firm believer that these things taste, smell and perform better than store-bought stuff. Plus there's the whole romantic, faux-pioneer thing to it.
I do especially love good heavy, creamy homemade yogurt. You're not going to find this stuff in any store. You could add some crushed pureed fruit or homemade jam to make a fruit yogurt, but I really love this just the way it is over granola or with a bit of brown sugar and a few nuts over the top of it.
I don't use a yogurt maker. I've never seen the need. In fact I abhor single purpose appliances. There's not much you can't do with just a blender, a food processor and a KitchenAid. Oh, and a few towels. I usually set my yogurt, wrapped in towels near our living room heat vent. That keeps it at a toasty temperature and keeps the little bacteria fellows happy.
makes 1 litre
- 1 litre whole milk
- 1/3 cup instant skim milk powder
- 1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise and cut in half, seeds loosened with a sharp knife
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
- 1 sachet acidophilus, casei, bifidus yogurt culture (can be found in most health food stores) or 250 ml (1 cup) yogurt with active bacterial cultures (store bought or home made)
- special equipment: dairy thermometer, 1.5 litre (or larger) glass container with tight fitting lid, several towels.
Whisk milk and milk powder together in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar, vanilla and lemon zest. Allow milk to boil briefly and then cool to to the temperature stated on your culture package (if you are using previously made yogurt to re-culture let milk cool to 80F.)
Whisk in culture and pour mixture into a sterilized glass container. wrap with towels and place in a warm, enclosed space (like inside a linen cupboard with a small heated wheat bag) or near a heat vent for 12 to 15 hours, or until yogurt is firmed up. Refrigerate to stop the process.