With all the availability of yogurt in the stores, you might ask “why even bother making yogurt from scratch?”
My simple answer is…
- It is so easy
- You can control what goes in it, especially the added sugar
- It’s cheaper, especially when making organic
- If you have access to it you can use non-homogenized or raw milk, both of which are closer to nature’s design. Here’s a great article of the real story of homogenized milk.
From the Ayurvedic perspective, yogurt is considered sweet and sour in taste and slightly warm in energy, making it best for the vata dosha. The more sour it is, the more warm and acidic and imbalancing to pitta. Despite these sour and acidic aspects, when used in small amounts it is nutritive for all seven tissue layers, aids in the digestion of other foods, replenishes the positive flora in the body and can even decrease diarrhea.
Notice the “use in small amounts” disclaimer. Because this dairy product is heavy, sour and often eaten cold, in large amounts it is imbalancing for all three doshas or life forces and in excess will cause constipation, clog the body’s channels and increase kapha and mucous. To get the benefits without the negatives, Ayurveda uses yogurt primarily in condiments or as a digestive drink called a lassi. Lassis are made by mixing a small amount of yogurt with different amounts of water (the water to yogurt ratio varies per one’s doshic needs) and spices. Using yogurt this way counters its natural clogging properties. This use of yogurt is very different than the way it is generally consumed today – larger amounts of heavily sweetened yogurt as meal, snack or dessert.
So now onto the steps of making this probiotic-filled food.
To make 1 quart of yogurt you will need:
- 2-3 Tbsp yogurt from a previous batch or good quality commercial plain yogurt
- 1 quart whole milk, ideally non homogenized milk
- a candy thermometer
- a towel
- 1 quart-size glass jar
Gently heat the milk in a large pot to 180 degrees then remove from the heat and allow to cool to 110 degrees. Stir in the 2-3 Tbsp. yogurt to your quart jar and add the cooled milk. With the lid on, gently shake the jar. You can also add the yogurt to the milk in the pot and stir thoroughly before pouring into your jar.
Put the lid on the jar, wrap the towel around it and set by your stove (or in a warm oven at 150 degrees) overnight. I make my yogurt in the evening and set it by my stove in its towel wrap. When I wake up in the morning, the yogurt is ready!
For a thicker, Greek style yogurt you simply pour the now-ready yogurt into a strainer placed over a pot and let it sit for an hour or so. Excess whey will drain off during this time leaving a thicker consistency.
I make plain yogurt to use with lassis, dressings or condiments. If you want a fruited or flavored yogurt simply add your natural sweetener, vanilla or fruit after it has cooled to 110 degrees. Shake and mix thoroughly then let sit overnight.
Let me know how your process goes and what your favorite use or flavor is.
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