Tangy, Healthy, Homemade Yogurt

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Two things happened mid-February that messed with my decade-long half-bagel with smidge of cream cheese and slice of lox breakfast habit.

  1. My fabulous local delicatessen can no longer get the nirvana-like H&H bagels from NYC (yes, I know the real H&H closed years ago but the ‘other’ H&H bagels are great too). And I despise their CT-made replacement bagels. DESPISE.
  2. In the NYT, I read a Melissa Clark article about making homemade yogurt and became obsessed – especially because there was a kitchen gadget I could buy.

I tried to be more open — to embrace change and learn to love the new bagels. I could not. I then bought a dozen bagels from a deli in NYC and brought them home on the train. Nope. Tasted right but they are the size of a softball and I hate that.

Yes, I am picky. I know I am not flexible. It’s sad but I’m just not. I’d say I’m working on it, but at least food-wise, it’d be a lie.

So what’s a non-food-flexible girl to do? Well, that’s the upshot of the story because Melissa Clark’s homemade yogurt recipe was a revelation.

When I read How to Make Yogurt at Home, I was immediately intrigued by her statement that it’s both simple to make and delicious – far more delicious than store-bought and since I’m not a huge fan of yogurt I thought I should try it. And bonus: my doctor wants me to consume more calcium and, um, ice cream is not on the lo-co calcium list.

Then it got fun. As I re-read Ms. Clark’s article, I realized she inserted a mystery into her story. And who doesn’t love a good mystery:

“I fell in love with a whole-milk yogurt that was so smooth, thick and milky tasting that it blew away anything I’d had before. Naturally, it was made by a Brooklyn artisan, it cost a fortune, and it was in such high demand that the fancy shop where it was sold was often out of stock.”

Finding out what yogurt she was obsessed with became my obsession.

After a ridiculous number of hours reading yogurt reviews and searching online, I did not know the answer but narrowed it down to either The White Moustache or Sohha Savory Yogurt.  In NYC for the weekend, I could not find Sohha but did find The White Moustache, so I bought one of the single-serve jars for a whopping $6.

Then I re-read the ‘simple’ recipe and started laughing. Sure, it’s simple, if you have a lot of patience. But I’m neither flexible nor patient (at least I know my faults, right?)  Her two “tips” about how easy it was to make yogurt were what prompted me to immediately buy a yogurt maker.  To me, these did not sound easy:

Tip #1: “…rub an ice cube over the inside bottom of the pot before adding the milk. This keeps it from scorching as it heats.” (For me, this reads like a guarantee of a scorched pot and is thus to be avoided at all costs.)

Tip #2: “I’ve tried placing it in a turned-off oven with the oven light on, in a corner swathed in a heating pad, on the countertop wrapped in a big towel, and tucked on the top of the fridge. They all worked, though the warmer the spot, the more quickly the milk fermented.” (OMG…too many options / too many ways I could go wrong, so, um, no.)

When I told my sister what I was going to do, she said, “Oh, making yogurt at home is easy, you just cook it and leave it somewhere warm.”  Or something to that effect.  So I guess these ‘tips’ would act as ‘tips’ for some (most?) people, but for me it led me straight to the internet.

Where I realized there was one final challenge with making yogurt: timing. The entire process takes at least 18 hours. While none of it’s hard (except for that scorched pot part) and none of that time is actually active work, it does mean you need to plan out exactly when you start or you’ll need to get up at 3am to jam it into the refrigerator. And that’s a big no for me. Armed now with information, I searched on Amazon.

Cuisinart Electronic Yogurt MakerFirst I bought an “InstantPot”. Too many issues to enumerate so let me say, “just don’t believe the reviews; it’s not good as a yogurt maker.” I immediately returned it and bought the fabulous Cuisinart Electronic Yogurt Maker with Automatic Cooling.  At $99 it was not a small purchase but I’ve been thrilled with it – you just mix 2 cups of organic 2% milk (for lo-co yogurt I’m using 2%) with 3-4 TB of the White Moustache plain yogurt, turn it on for 12 hours and when it’s done, it then keeps it cool for 12 more hours – so at any normal time of day, you can remove it to the refrigerator. To me, that’s worth the cost of the pretty slim, nice-looking appliance!

Not only is this truly easy, but it makes yogurt that’s rich, creamy and tangy. With NO sugar, that tangy taste takes a bit of getting used to, but I’m trying (look at me, being flexible after all!)  I add fresh berries and mash them up to give the yogurt a bit of color and also a handful of granola for some crunch and texture.

The only problem is – I am eating it for lunch, not breakfast. Turns out I really crave hot (or at least, not cold) for breakfast.  So I’m still eating the last of my NYC frozen bagels (can’t let them go to waste, right?) and trying to gear myself up to try yogurt for breakfast.

If you are more flexible than me (a low bar indeed) and/or like yogurt for breakfast but would prefer a tangier, no-sugar option at a fraction of the cost of buying individual serve yogurts, give Melissa Clark’s recipe a whirl.

October 2019 Update:

Shoutout and thanks to reader Maureen Malloy, who posted a comment on Going Lo-Co after reading about Going Lo-Co in a Washington Post article.  She questioned why I have a recipe posted that uses full-fat milk to make homemade yogurt. Her question was a good one—and the reason I’ve included it on the recipe page is because homemade yogurt is a real food that’s not processed—and it delivers a lot of protein and calcium with low sodium and no added sugars, with just 3 grams of saturated fat.  So although the recipe uses full-fat milk and yogurt (which is why it has 3 grams of saturated fat) frankly, it’s heart-healthier than some store-bought yogurts and a better choice than a typical sandwich.

Here is a version of Melissa Clark’s recipe, using am electric yogurt maker. Nutritional facts about this recipe:

Creamy Homemade Yogurt, by Melissa Clark

While this yogurt is made with full-fat milk, one serving has just 3 grams of saturated fat...and a lot of calcium and protein with low sodium and no added sugars. If you are going to eat yogurt, this is a pretty heart-healthy choice!

Servings: 6 4.5 oz servings
Calories: 111 kcal
Ingredients
  • 4 cups whole milk organic
  • 2 tbsp whole milk yogurt with live and active cultures plain or vanilla
Instructions
  1. Pour milk into yogurt maker container

  2. Add yogurt and whisk. Insert into yogurt maker and turn on.

  3. 12 hours later, remove. Strain if you prefer greek yogurt style. Add fresh berries and heart-healthy nuts like almonds, if you like.

Recipe Notes

See Melissa Clark's actual recipe for instructions on how to make without using an electric yogurt maker!  

Nutrition Facts
Creamy Homemade Yogurt, by Melissa Clark
Amount Per Serving (4.5 oz)
Calories 111 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 24mg8%
Sodium 86mg4%
Potassium 10mg0%
Carbohydrates 9g3%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 6g12%
Calcium 210mg21%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition Facts
Creamy Homemade Yogurt, by Melissa Clark
Amount Per Serving (4.5 oz)
Calories 111 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 24mg8%
Sodium 86mg4%
Potassium 10mg0%
Carbohydrates 9g3%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 6g12%
Calcium 210mg21%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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