So I promised that I would make up for not posting often this month and start a series of traditional Japanese recipes. I will live up to that promise! The first I want to share is not necessarily Japanese, but it makes a fantastic substitute for Japanese mayonnaise (however, if you can get Japanese mayo, then by all means use it). A note on Japanese mayo though, it is a little bit different then the mayonnaise that you are used to. It handles and tastes different, plus it’s slightly healthier. But mayo is still mayo and some people won’t touch it even if it’s on their grocery shelf. So I’m going to teach you how to make homemade yogurt. It’s really simple and takes almost no effort at all. You can also use whatever type of milk that you like. It will change consistencies and fat content of the resulting yogurt, but still be delicious and I’ll teach you how to make it thicker as well once you are finished.
The shopping list!
1 Quart or 1 Liter of Milk (Whole and raw is the best, but skim and 2% work just as well)
1/2 Cup of Plain Yogurt
So the first step to this recipe is to get your milk. Personally, I prefer whole milk. It makes a far more rich yogurt. But, like I mentioned, skim milk is just as good and the recipe doesn’t change because of it.
Take the milk and heat it on the stove. Don’t heat it all the way to boiling, but almost. At this point, you simply remove it from the heat and allow to cool to around 110~120°F or 43 ~ 48°C. I don’t have always have a thermometer with me, but if I can stick my finger in the milk and not get scalded, but still be warm then chances are it’s good to go!
Once your milk is cooled, you simply need to whisk in around 1/2 cup of pre-existing yogurt. The cheap stuff works just fine. You just want the bacteria, not yogurt hand churned in an organic garden while a harp was being played. Although you can definitely do that to your own batch. It should have live cultures, but I have yet to run into any yogurt that does not have those. I will note however, that greek style yogurt does not work so well here.
After the yogurt is properly mixed in you’re next goal is to keep the baby yogurt at around ~100°F or ~37°C. Much simpler then it sounds. I wrap my pot in a towel with the lid on and let it sit overnight. You can alternative keep it in the oven, put it in a thermal box (think picnic tote/cooler) or, if you’re fancy, in that yogurt incubator that’s been sitting in your basement for years.
That’s all! Just three steps.
Heat the milk (Almost to boiling)
Allow the milk to cool
Whisk in existing yogurt
If you count putting the yogurt somewhere warm and then ignoring it for a night as a step, then I guess it’s really four steps.
Coolest thing about this? Once you make this recipe for the first time, it’s a self-replicating one. The yogurt you made can be used as the yogurt for future batches.
Oh? What’s that? You want your yogurt to be thick? Easy.
Instead of immediately putting the yogurt in the refrigerator. Layer a few cheesecloths or muslin, pour in the yogurt, tie the edges and let it hang and drain over the sink. Do it long enough and this will actually create a yogurt that is just like cream cheese and can be used as such! It’s very tasty and I recommend letting it hang to this consistency at least once. The yogurt will continue to get thicker as the hours go by and once it reaches the desired thickness place it in the refrigerator!