When I was a kid, I remember seeing a Dannon Yogurt commercial that stated that the people who lived the longest in Eastern Europe consumed yogurt on a daily basis. So, like many, I consumed yogurt because it was sweet like ice cream. I had no idea that it was the activated culture that was doing me good. Sure, you can buy the same cultures in a pill, but I think the fermentation of milk and the cultures it produces are the most beneficial to humans.
Within the last ten years or so, scientists have discovered that each of us has a relatively unique microbiome of bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc. that help us digest food, fight off bad bacteria, etc. In other words, our survival is dependent upon the symbiotic relationship we have with a bunch of microbes in our guts. Finally, the mystery of why we have an appendix may have been solved.
Today, if we get an illness (or take too much amoxicillin, zithromax, etc.) that destroys the bacteria in our digestive system, we can just hang around other people to replenish the microbes we need. In the olden days, like in the early Pleistocene, if you got sick (bad diarrhea), wiped out your bacteria, and there was no one around, you were just out of luck. Fortunately, we have this little organ that sits at the junction of the large and small intestine called the appendix. One theory is that the appendix acts as a storehouse for good bacteria, “rebooting” the digestive system after a severe bout of diarrhea.
These microbes may play key roles in our general health and well-being including stuff like whether we’re fat or skinny. Weird, huh?
As much as I like the sweet taste of commercial yogurt, to be effective, this isn’t what yogurt is supposed to taste like. The main problem with the fruity commercial yogurts is that they contain sugars. Sugars are the antithesis of yogurt, but since sugar sells… Now, you can buy plain yogurt without any sugar, but it’s as expensive as regular yogurt and you can’t be sure of its overall quality. The best and relatively easiest solution is to make yogurt yourself at home.
How to make yogurt
- 5 cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder (optional)
Add 5 cups of whole milk to a medium sauce pan. Over medium heat, slowly heat the milk up to 190 degrees F. It’s best to use a digital thermometer like the ThermoPro TP-O2S. Then remove the pan from heat, let it cool until it reaches between 110-115 degrees F. To cool the milk quicker, place pan in a basin of cool water.) Mix (or whisk) two tablespoons of plain yogurt with 1 cup of warmed milk in a separate container. Mix it well, then pour the mixture back into the warmed milk. To make the yogurt thicker, add 1/2 cup of non-fat dry milk powder and whisk. Pour the mixture in a glass container or jars. Let warm for 7-8 hours. Then refrigerate.
The easier way to make yogurt is to use a Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker.
The Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker basically has seven 6 oz jars to hold the yogurt for you. You still have to heat the whole milk, add the yogurt and stir. The yogurt maker keeps the yogurt at a consistent temperature long enough for the milk to ferment and the yogurt culture to grow and set.