Can you guess what the most-consumed fermented food is? Yogurt.
Fermented from milk and live bacterial culture (like the probiotic acidophilus), yogurt is well tolerated by those sensitive to most dairy products, especially lactose. Lactose is used or eaten up by the bacteria as it proliferates and turns to yogurt.
As you cruise the dairy aisle at the supermarket, there is some stiff competition out there to make it from the shelf to your cart. Many different types of yogurt including low fat and no-fat, Greek, creamy, drinking, bio-yogurt, organic, baby and frozen can add to the overall confusion of which is best to buy and how the family will like it.
Some yogurts tout their health benefits better than others. When I read the ingredients of some brands, the list seems way too long for a product that is made from milk and bacteria. Colours, flavourings, sugar (glucose, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose and artificial sweeteners) and maybe some fruit on the bottom is most common. Most yogurts look fruity because of added colour, not actual fruit.
I remember years ago being asked to spread the word of a new yogurt on the market for babies. At the time I was doing weekly workshops at WholeFoods Market to jam-packed classrooms of moms and babies. I was the perfect person to help reach their marketing goals for launching this new product.
As I do with all products, I read the ingredient label. It contained sugar. I was shocked. A yogurt for babies with sugar in it? That is all kinds of wrong. I went back to the company and said that I’d love to share their new product with the loyal attendees of my class, and let them know that it has sugar in it (something I, in no uncertain terms, suggest to avoid for babies and toddlers). After a dialogue with their marketing manager, I found out that during taste tests, the babies preferred the product with sugar in it. Fair enough. They are a business and want sales at the end of the day, but I was so annoyed that a company couldn’t take the healthier road and not put sugar in their new product. From then on, I did continue to share what I had learned with my classes although the company withdrew their request for my help to market it. I wonder why!
Lately, I’ve started making my own. Why bother, you ask? Because that’s how I roll. I love showing my daughters how things are made and how to make healthy food. My nine year old has always hated yogurt. Frozen, sweetened or hidden. The first time I forced her to try mine (everyone must at least try around here), she didn’t make that face. She actually asked for more. And more. She now eats yogurt with homemade granola, a splash of maple syrup and frozen blueberries at least three times a week! If that’s not motivating, I don’t know what is.
Making your own yogurt may seem a bit much, but wow does it taste good. It’s so simple that it’s silly.
Transfer 2L milk into a glass jar. Warm it in a saucepan and water until baby-bottle-warm temp. Once warm, add in 4 tablespoons of plain yogurt (without sugar). Put on the lid and shake for a few minutes until it’s well combined. Place in your oven with the light on for 16 – 24 hours. If you have a consistently warm spot you can use that too.
After the suggested time, stir it and either refrigerate in the jar or transfer the yogurt to a jam or jelly bag or fine sieve with a bowl under it. Let it sit for up to four hours to make Greek yogurt. We prefer it thicker, so I always strain it. I use the whey that drips down from the yogurt to add to soups or make sauerkraut.
Will you try it?
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