DIY is a new acronym I learned this year for something I have always liked to do. It seems the newest fad lately is to Do It Yourself. I perceive more people have been bitten by this bug since the economy decided to (very nearly) crash and burn, and what a delightful change. Pinterest has all sorts of DIY projects and directions that smack of the pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps attitude adopted by our Great Grandparents as a result of the Great Depression. "Fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." I grew up with this motto passed down to me from my father who heard it from his father, who probably heard it from his father. I like this mentality. There is less waste, less pretension, and more reality and practicality.
Well I have decided to try and make whatever I can from scratch to help lower my family's cost of living. I began making my own bread not only for this reason but also the nutritional benefits. Notice that what ever we choose to make for our families ourselves are usually healthier choices as well as more economic?
-(revision) Inspired by this post I have decided to add a Do It Yourself column listing the things I am making myself or plan to be making myself in the near future. The listed items will have links to different blogs I follow giving the instruction I will be using in on each subject.
This last week I decided yogurt was my next step. Every week I buy at least one four pack of yogurt that costs me $2.00-$3.00 each. That adds up to about $150 a year for yogurt! Last week I made eight servings of yogurt with just a quart of milk (that probably would have gone to waste due to the size of my family) and a culture packet that cost about $.83. (Which I don't have to use every time.) That means I get to save about $55.80 per year, and more if milk happens to be on sale which it generally is! That's a payment on a bill for me! I haven't figured out how much I am saving by making my own bread but I'm sure it's just as substantial. Next I plan to try making my own Mayonnaise.
Yogurt is very simple to make. A few years back I became interested in making my own yogurt and bought a yogurt maker, some books and culture. Really there are so many ingenious methods of making yogurt you don't have to own a yogurt maker to Do It Yourself.
Many parts of the world tout to be the inventors of yogurt, and the original method sounds rather disgusting to our modern sensibilities so I will leave it to your own interest and research.
Basically yogurt is made when live active cultures or bacteria are mixed with warm milk and kept at a warm temperature for several hours and then cooled. The culture thickens the milk and makes it tart, and you have yogurt. Just like the process of making cheese, yogurt is made through very natural and biological means. It doesn't take long to prepare it and you can make it the way you like it. Thick and tart, or sweet and slurpy it's up to you, but what I like best is that I get to choose what is in it. How much refined sugar, food coloring or additives and preservatives do you want to eat? I think it's exciting and empowering to DIY. Are you up for a bit of adventure?
Just Two Ingredients:
Milk (a quart of milk makes quite enough yogurt for one week unless you are like the people on Burn Notice and yogurt is all that you eat, or you have a large family.)
Starter (This can be a packet of freeze dried culture, or a couple tablespoons of plain yogurt. Experiment! it's fun.)
Now you heat the milk slowly on med/low setting on the stovetop. Stir constantly to avoid scorching the milk on the bottom of the saucepan.
If the milk is fresh just heat to 115 degrees (or heat to 180 degrees and cool it down, whatever works for you); if you have had the milk a while, heat it to the boil so as to kill any competing bacteria in the milk and then cool it to 115 degrees. Some say to pour the hot milk into a bowl to set in icy water until it cools to 115 degrees (use a candy thermometer) and some just don't heat it to the boil in the first place. I just take it off the heat and stir it and watch the temperature carefully.
When I made yogurt this last time I used an organic whole milk and just heated it to about the 115 degrees. I don't know the exact degree actually because I have this nifty thermometer that tells me exactly when the milk is yogurt making temperature. I drew out some of the milk when it was a little more than lukewarm and set it aside ahead of time.
Mix the culture in the lukewarm milk and then pour into the 115 degree milk.
Mix well, pour into containers, and keep warm for about 4-5 hours or as long as the directions on your packet give. The longer your yogurt sits warming the thicker and tarter it will be. I incubated mine for about 4 and a half hours. Then immediately set yogurt in the fridge to stop incubation and store until you are ready to eat it.
Now I have read that some women make their yogurt in crock-pots and some women use a heating pad with towels among other methods such as the oven... I have heard you can leave it in the pan, wrap it in towels and set it in an empty cooler too. I am just glad to use my yogurt maker I bought on Amazon for about $30 or so (I can't quite remember as it was about 6 years ago.) I find it simple and am happy to be making my own yogurt again.
I eat my plain yogurt with a drizzle of honey and sometimes with some fresh berries, plums or bananas. But, there are lots of recipes for flavored yogurt to try out. Enjoy!