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French Women's Diet Secret: Yogurt

Easy, portable, and tasty, yogurt may also aid in weight loss

Making Your Own Yogurt

Want a ready supply of healthy, inexpensive plain yogurt? Try making your own.

The process is simple: Add live cultures to heated milk, and hold it at 110 degrees Fahrenheit until it's firm. You can then add flavorings, or, if you want to thicken it and boost the nutrition, you can add nonfat milk solids.

You can buy yogurt makers, which cost from $15-$60, or make it the old fashioned way with the recipe below:

Homemade Yogurt

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1 quart of milk (Low-fat is healthiest, but the higher the fat content, the creamier and smoother the yogurt will be)
1/4 cup dried starter culture or yogurt with active culture.*
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder (use 2/3 cup if you're using skim milk); optional
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin for thickening; optional)
Clean yogurt containers or canning jars with lids

*You can purchase dried starter cultures, or just get some plain yogurt containing live culture. Make sure the carton says it contains "live culture" or "active yogurt culture." Many pasteurized yogurts no longer contain the active ingredient.

  • Place the starter culture or active-culture yogurt in a large bowl. Add the dry milk powder, if using. If you want a thicker yogurt, add 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin, mixed with a small amount of milk.
  • Warm milk to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (use a thermometer) in a 1-2 quart saucepan or double boiler.
  • Add a small amount of the warmed milk to the active-culture yogurt or starter culture and stir.
  • Slowly add the rest of the warmed milk to the mixture. Stir well.
  • Cover the bowl and place the mixture into a commercial yogurt maker, an oven on very low heat (200 degrees), a heating pad, or a warm spot in your kitchen. Leave until set, about 6-8 hours. Use the thermometer to make sure the temperature stays at 100 degrees.
  • When set, refrigerate the yogurt for 8 hours before eating.

Yield: 4-5 cups yogurt

After the yogurt is set, you can stir in fruit and/or flavorings. To sweeten, try 2-4 teaspoons honey or sugar.

To make drinkable yogurt: add additional milk and/or fruit syrups to taste, after the yogurt is done.

To make frozen yogurt: Follow the directions on your ice cream maker, using the homemade yogurt instead of cream or milk.

To make yogurt cheese (which can be used as a substitute for cream cheese or in cooking): Drain yogurt in a strainer lined with cheesecloth and leave overnight (cover the entire bowl, yogurt and strainer with a cloth).

In the morning, drain the liquid in the bowl. Place a weight (you can use a sealed plastic bag filled with water) on the cheese, cover again, and let stand another 8 hours. Wrap yogurt cheese and refrigerate.

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