I was attracted to the book, French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure by Mirielle Guiliano, not because I wanted to diet (no thanks!), but because I sincerely wanted to re-affirm what I already felt to be true about healthy eating. In it, she describes the benefits of eating yogurt and how to make it both the old-fashioned way and with an electronic yogurt maker. (p. 148-153)
(As an important side note, I need to mention the fact that Ms. Guiliano advocates drinking wine, which is absolutely not halal, therefore I do not advocate nor condone that part of the book)
It was my belief that not only French, but most European, Asian, South Asian, and more–don’t get fat, at least not like we do here. I have been in Europe, North Africa, Mexico and Central America and have never seen the severe obesity problem we have in this country. However, I fear that with the export of processed foods, fast food chains and chemically-treated and preserved foods, we are severely-and perhaps permanently-damaging the dietary habits of other global culinary traditons. Needless to say, that’s another topic in itself to discuss somewhere else.
Today’s post is to demonstrate how easy it is to make yogurt at home. I have tried it the old-fashioned way by boiling milk and adding the yogurt culture and letting it sit for hours and hours in my own pots. Sometimes it would work, other times it wouldn’t. I felt very horrible “expirementing” with perfectly good milk when the yogurt would not turn out right; and elated and surprised when it (rarely) did turn out to be yogurt.
As an economical and much less-wasteful solution, I decided to make the investment in an electronic yogurt maker- a Donvier brand, as suggested by Mirielle Guiliano in her book. A variety of yogurt makers are available online at Amazon.com for between $30-60 plus shipping. Just type in “yogurt makers”.
Let’s get to the process so you can see how easy it is to do:
1. Get yourself any electronic yogurt maker! Donvier makes excellent ones.
2. Boil the milk for at least 20 minutes, or until you see the bubbly foam at the top. Immediately turn off heat and remove any film collected at the top.
3. Use a thermometer to continuously check the temperature of the milk. It should be between 110-115 degrees F when you add the yogurt culture. At this point, if you are using a Donvier or similar type of yogurt maker, you will need 1 TB. of plain yogurt (at room temperature). I like to use whole milk plain yogurt only because the result is smooth, thick and creamy. The best yogurt for starter (in my opinion) is Stonyfield Farm Yogurt. It is organic, as well. Mix the 1 TB. of yogurt with one plastic container of milk (this should come with your yogurt maker). Pour this mixture back into your pot of boiled milk.
4. Stir this mixture very well so that there are no clumps of yogurt throughout the boiled milk.
5. Next, pour this mixture into each of the plastic glasses that comes with your yogurt maker and use the caps to cover. My Donvier comes with 8 plastic glasses and caps.
6. Set the electric time for 10 hours. The red light (of a Donvier) should indicate that it is “on”. Do not open any of the glasses during this entire time, as it may tamper with the delicate process of cultivating the yogurt.
7. At the 10 hour mark, your yogurt maker should indicate with a beep that it is ready to be shut off. Do not keep the yogurt on longer than this. Each glass should be immediately stored in the refrigerator.
The great thing about this is that you can enjoy the yogurt plain or add fruit, nuts and/or honey to your liking– all without any preservatives or unhealthy elements like high fructose corn syrup (yes, some commercial brands DO contain it!). Additionally, some commercial brands may contain gelatin (pork or beef-derived) as a gelling agent.
Bismillah and Bon Appetit!