First of all, I need to say that my new camera does not work nearly as well as my other one. And the only reason that I have a new camera is because a Certain Little Someone knocked it out of my hand as I was taking a picture and it fell to the floor lens down. End of camera. So we bought a cheap-o replacement which is not nearly as nice! So sorry about the pics.
Above is a picture of my homemade yogurt, mixed with fresh blueberries and banana. Mmmm... despite what it looks like, it really is delicious!
I never ever would have dreamed of making my own yogurt at home, although I LOVE yogurt and eat it every day if I can. But upon discovering that the aforementioned Certain Little Someone was allergic to dairy products, I had to replace a lot of my favorite foods with other things. At first, I just gave up on yogurt, until I saw coconut milk yogurt in the store. That is, yogurt made from coconut milk. I bought one container, but it was almost $2.00, and I NEVER pay that much for a 6oz container of yogurt! NEVER! I stumbled over an online blog entry that mentioned making your own coconut milk yogurt. The instructions called for a stock pot, two Mason jars, warm water, coconut milk and dairy-free starter. It seemed relatively easy, if somewhat primitive and time consuming, but I thought, "I can do this!"
I was telling my husband about it and he said, to my great surprise, "Oh yeah, some people at work make yogurt all the time! But they use yogurt machines." A yogurt machine? So I got back online, and discovered that yogurt machines only cost $20 or so... my wheels started turning and I quickly realized that I could make my OWN coconut milk yogurt for a fraction of the grocery store price.
I bought this EuroCuisine yogurt machine: It makes 7 individual 6oz glass containers of yogurt, and works by incubating the milk and starter for at least 12 hours in the same temperature to allow the cultures to develop. The finished product closely resembles what you buy in the store, but is not as thick or creamy (is more liquidy) and is much more fresh, and therefore probably has more healthy cultures!
Homemade yogurt is QUICK. I never would have thought so, but as you will see from the instructions that follow, all you have to do is mix the stuff up and put it in the incubator and let it sit all day.
It's also EASY. No stock pots or Mason jars involved, just let the machine do the work.
It's CHEAP, too. I buy a large can of coconut milk for $3.19 and a starter container of yogurt for $1.79 (You do not have to buy this every time. Once you've made a batch, you can use one of the jars to make the next couple batches.) That's $4.98 and it makes 6 6oz containers, which equals .83 ea. A little less than half the price of the store-bought variety. If you use regular cow's milk and cow's milk yogurt, your cost per container will be minimal.
It's HEALTHY for sure. Yogurt has live cultures that your digestive system uses to help keep you healthy. Our digestive tract is supposed to have an 80:20 ration of good vs. bad bacteria, but most people have the opposite. Eating yogurt helps keep this balance intact.
Here's how I made it. First, I heated the coconut milk in a metal saucepan, using a metal spoon (wooden or plastic would introduce bad bacteria, not a good idea), until it was just starting to bubble. I let that cool for 10 min or so.
Then I poured the store-bought container of yogurt into a glass dish (again, no plastic or wooden) and added some of the heated milk, stirring it until there were no lumps. I usually use a container of yogurt as my starter but this is not necessary. I could purchase yogurt starter (even a dairy-free variety), or I could use a jar from a previous batch of yogurt.
Then I added that back into the pan of heated coconut milk, stirring it all thoroughly.
Then I divided the contents evenly between 6 glass jars and placed them in the yogurt machine (without the caps), covering with the lid and leaving it for 12 hours. I did this around 9 in the morning, so in the evening, before I went to bed, the yogurt was done!
My machine has individual glass jars, but you can also buy machines that make one entire quart of yogurt. That would probably work for me also, but I thought I would like the individual jars, so I could add whatever mix-ins I wanted to each jar, and not have to stick with one kind for the whole week.
I've tried the following *cocoa (mmmmm) *jam *blueberries (I like to mash them up just a bit before mixing them in.) *mashed bananas *honey
I frequently throw about half a container of yogurt into the blender to make smoothies for myself in the morning. I also have used this yogurt as a replacement for sour cream, mayonnaise or regular yogurt in recipes. Works great!