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I started experimenting at yogurt making a bit…

Sophie is a skinny Minnie, and she needs as much fat and calories in her diet as possible…the problem with this is that the only whole milk yogurt I have been able to find in the grocery store is the YoBaby stuff…which is NASTY (or, as Scott put it, I wouldn’t feed that to my dog, much less to my kid), and she won’t touch (and she LOVES yogurt).

In my research of blogs, biologists and chemists webpages, recipe sites, etc, I have come to a simple conclusion…as long as you don’t kill the bacteria, everything else is open to experimentation…

My method to quick (a relative term) and simple yogurt making:

To start out with, you need to figure out how much yogurt you want to make. A good ratio for ingredients is 1 gallon milk:1 cup starter. The amount you begin with is the same amount you will end with, but not all of it will be yogurt (the rest will be whey). You can also add non-fat dried milk to make your yogurt thicker.

Scald milk to ~185 degrees F (according to some sources, this is not absolutely necessary–I have since tried making yogurt without scalding, and it is fine, though the storage time seems to be a shorter). Cool milk to ~110 degrees F and blend some milk with the (live culture) starter yogurt til not lumpy. Pour milk and starter into a large pan (I use a roasting pan) with a lid and stir. Maintain in heated area in the bacteria’s preferred temperature range (about 100-130 degrees F)…most recipies will recommend somewhere in the 110-120 degree range. The higher the temp, the shorter the incubation time, the lower, the longer. the longer you allow the yogurt to culture, the tangier and thicker it gets. Drain the whey. Refridgerate. (If you hate being wasteful and have issues tossing out the whey, you can make bread with it, in place of the water…it makes for a bit denser bread, but is plenty yummy. I have actually heard of people that make a drink out if it, but can’t find any recipes).

…or just buy a yogurt maker (I’m seriously considering this method…though the hubby is likely to protest another kitchen gadget)

I have been splitting up the yogurt into thirds (minus a cup as a starter for the next batch)…1/3 to use in place of sour cream, 1/3 to flavor with fruit and stevia (for me) or sugar (for Sophie), and 1/3 to make into a yogurt spread–sometimes called yogurt cheese (put yogurt in a cheesecloth like piece of cloth) and further drain, add herbs and such.

Useful yogurt:
*Eat yogurt while taking antibiotics. Antibiotics can also kill off the healty bacteria in your body–because yogurt contains live cultures, it helps to repopulate the bacteria in the digestive system
*Many lactose intolerant people can enjoy yogurt since the bacteria convert the lactose to lactic acid.
*It has been suggested that yogurt can reduce the number of vaginal yeast infections for women that are prone to them. There are also claims that a vaginal suppositories of plain yogurt can “cure” yeast infections, or at least lessen their severity and duration. However, most studies that refute these claims. Even so, its still good for you. And yogurt CAN help in non-vaginal yeast infections…like yeast diaper rashes in children.
*Some studies suggest that daily yogurt consumption improves HDL (good cholesterol) levels and decreases LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.
*Equal parts of yogurt, honey, and oatmeal make a great face mask. Add a couple drops of lemon juice and lavender essential oil.
*Yogurt can be used to soothe an itchy scalp and perhaps lessen dandruff. Rinse after 10-15 min.
*It has been suggested that daily yogurt consumption can lessen eczema flare-ups, as well as sinusitis and bronchitis in children.
*Regular yogurt consumption may help preven colon cancer.
*Try plain yogurt on a baked potato instead of sour cream or as a substitute in recipes that are traditionally high in fat content–creamy dressings, sauces, or dips. Replace up to half of sour cream or cream cheese with plain yogurt. If it works, try more–some recipes will tolerate complete substitution, but others will not.
*Yogurt can soothe a sunburn.
*Make moss “paint” for the garden–grow moss between the cracks of your stone walkway, on the sides of flowerpots, etc. Pour a cup of plain active-culture yogurt into your blender along with a handful of common lawn moss and about a cup of water. Blend for about 30 seconds. Use a paintbrush to spread the mixture in any cool and shady spot where you want it to grow. Mist the moss occasionally until it gets established.
*For the dieters out there–a daily dose of yogurt has been linked to greater weight loss.

More resources for info:
I love this website for info on healthy foods
Dr Fankhauser’s guide–check out his site, he has info on tons of stuff…he seems like a really cool guy
University of Nebraska’s how to with trouble shooting info
a bunch of yogurt recipes
mucho info about diy yogurt
about.com’s how to

Next, I think I’m going to make butter