It took me a long time to appreciate yogurt.
I’m talking years. I couldn’t get past it being cooked milk and having that tang to it. Right around the time I graduated from college, La Crème debuted, and I thought I’d give it a try (it has since been discontinued). I was hooked, especially on the vanilla flavor. Rich, creamy, and no yogurt “taste.” I then branched out to Yoplait’s Whips, more dessert than yogurt. A few years ago, I hopped on the Greek yogurt bandwagon, and I haven’t looked back. Chobani’s chalky aftertaste was replaced by Fage’s richness, although fairly recently, I’ve become rather fond of Siggi’s Icelandic yogurt (It’s rather similar to Greek yogurt…And they make the BEST Strawberry yogurt I’ve ever had!).
The only problem with all these yogurts is that they’re expensive as all get-out! Well, Yoplait and Dannon are reasonably priced, but truth be told, I’m getting rather snobbish about the type of yogurt I buy. If I can’t pronounce any of the ingredients, I’m not buying it. When I won that Williams-Sonoma gift card, one of the things I kept coming back to was a yogurt maker.
I also bought extra jars, just because we go through a LOT of yogurt. When the bambino was an infant and dealing with his first ear infection, he wound up with thrush. To help combat it, his doctor told me I could give him plain yogurt, if he’d eat it. He LOVED it, and ever since then, he’ll happily eat a cup a few times a week, either for breakfast or a snack. If I were to buy enough yogurt for each of the 3 of us to have a cup each day for a week, I’d be spending upwards of $30 on that alone! When you’re working with a weekly budget of only about $60-75, it’s just not feasible. So I thought if we liked the homemade yogurt, I’d make a batch of that every week, and it could basically cost me a half gallon of milk. Burbach’s Milk, of course.
So I got the milk/yogurt base ready before bed, as it takes at the very least 7 hours to “cook.” I filled the jars, and then put them in the yogurt maker, and went to bed.
And the next morning, they were done!
The first batch I made, I used Fage Total Classic as my initial starter. The second batch, I used the freeze-dried starter that came with the yogurt maker (I also went ahead and bought extra). That batch tasted much more tart than the batch I made with Fage (I may be returning the freeze-dried cultures). I do think it helps to use a quality milk–Obviously you can use any sort you like. I started with whole milk and didn’t flavor it. I figured I’ll master the basic recipe/technique, then start playing around with flavorings.
Depending on how well this goes, I’m hoping that we’ll all like it enough that I’ll just have to buy an extra gallon of milk each week, rather than $30 of fancy yogurts!