One of the benefits of homemade yogurt is that it is quick, easy to do and relatively cheap to produce. Equipment wise you need a yogurt maker:
A yogurt culture and milk. To make better quality homemade yogurt you may also consider purchasing a pH meter and a cloth if you are straining the yogurt - such as a Greek style yogurt. That’s basically all you need and although you can still make mistakes when producing yogurt, it is a lot easier to make than most cheeses. There are other benefits to making yogurt yourself and sure - unless you are producing it on a large scale it isn’t going to be as cheap as store bought yogurt. However, the fact that is simple to produce means that everyone can have a go at it and getting the kids involved in making your own yogurt means it can be a fun activity for the whole family. Homemade yogurt also means you get to decide what ingredients go in it, meaning you can choose healthy options. Also, if you make it yourself you know it is free from additives, preservatives, colors and artificial sweeteners.
There are a few different yogurt cultures out there, some produce subtle flavor differences, some are more suited to making a certain type of yogurt such as a stirred yogurt but there aren’t the massive variety of yogurt culture like there are with cheese cultures, as like I mentioned earlier - yogurt making is generally a lot simpler than cheese making.
When making your own homemade yogurt you should know there are a few different types of yogurt you can make. A stirred yogurt - sometimes known as a Swiss yogurt is made by first heating the milk up to 194ºC. This process denatures all the proteins and will stop the yogurt being grainy or stringy at the end, as well as improving the texture. After the incubation period the yogurt is stirred and should start to thicken. At this point the culture is still making the yogurt more acidic, which is why if you are using a pH meter, you’ll know at what point to stop and cool the yogurt. This rapid cooling will stop the acidification process and your homemade yogurt is now ready to eat!
Greek yogurt is made in the same way but is strained through a cheese cloth at the end to leave you with a thicker yogurt. If it is too thick simply add some of the drained off liquid back into the yogurt and stir in.
Set yogurts, as their name suggests, are made in their pots or jars. Rather than being incubated in a yogurt maker, the incubation process takes place with the yogurts in their jars/pots. When the right pH is reached they are moved - still in their pots to the fridge.
Once your homemade yogurt (whichever style you try) is complete, the fun really starts! This is where you can experiment with the various different flavors to make your homemade yogurt even more delicious. Strawberries, Raspberries, Gooseberries, honey, oats, coulis, granola - there are many different things you can add to your yogurt to enhance the flavor and this is perhaps the greatest benefit of making your own yogurt. By having the base yogurt ready made, you can add all manner of fruits and other lovely ingredients that you have to hand in your kitchen. What are you waiting for? Make your own homemade yogurt today!