make your own ‘gurt + homemade yogurt overnight parfaits

If you have not tried making yo’ own ‘gurt (not the Yogurtland kind I might add) you really should. It is incredibly easy and takes only a matter of hours. It requires just two ingredients, although you may want to add your own sweetener, fruit, flavoring. It is more cost effective than buying those ridiculously overpriced individual yogurts and it is a healthier version of store bought brands which normally have a crazy amount of sugar and preservatives. You do not even need a yogurt maker, although I have one. You only need an oven (with a light or set at 110*F) to incubate the yogurt. See TheKitchn for instructions on how to make yogurt without a yogurt maker.

Milk is the starting ingredient for yogurt. One of the properties of milk is that it invites it’s own preservation. It can foster microbes which convert it’s sugar into acid, thereby preserving it for some time. The microbes change the milk’s texture and taste. This fermentation of milk into yogurt and other cultured milk products occurs because of the unique chemical properties of milk.

Lactose is milk’s most readily available energy source, a sugar found nowhere else in nature. Since it is so rare, not many microbes have the digestive enzymes to break down lactose. The milk bacteria however, specializes in digesting lactose. The microbes extract energy from lactose by breaking it down to lactic acid.The bacteria then releases lactic acid into the milk where it stops the growth of most other microbes, including those that cause human disease, and make other antibacterial substances. The lactic acid also causes the proteins to gather together into curds and solidify the milk. This fermentation process also causes the yogurt to have a nice tartness.

There are 50+ strains of lactic acid bacteria. Standard yogurt nowadays contains just two kinds of bacteria: Lactobacillus delbrueckii and Streptococcus salivarius. Nonetheless, this bacteria has been shown to have many health benefits. Various strains of bacteria adhere to and shield the intestinal wall, secrete antibacterial compounds, boost the body’s immune response to particular disease microbes, dismantle cholesterol and cholesterol consuming bile acids, and reduce the production of potential carcinogens.

Making your own yogurt
This recipe is for the most basic of yogurts. Experiment with adding your own sweeteners such as honey, agave, jam, or fruit.

5 cups (or 1 liter) milk – reduced fat milk will yield firmer yogurt, while non-fat milk with be more liquidy.
1 T yogurt cultures (you can use 1 T of your favorite yogurt or buy packaged cultures – many yogurt makers come with starter cultures)

Yogurt making occurs in two basic steps. First, you must heat the milk. The heating process denatures the whey protein, which are normally un-reactive and would cluster with one another, creating a curdy yogurt. Yuck! When heated the whey protein will instead cluster on the surface of casein protein. The whey will then bond to each other in only a few spots, causing a fine matrix of chains that is smoother and better at retaining liquid. Traditionally milk was heated for prolonged periods of time to concentrate the proteins and yield a firmer texture. Today, manufacturers will boost protein content by adding powdered milk and reduce the cooking time. Many recipes for homemade yogurt call for powdered milk. You will need to measure the temperature of your milk using a candy thermometer (available at Target). Milk should reach 185*F and cook for 30 minutes or 195*F for 10 minutes. I have found that I only need the milk to reach this temperature for a few minutes to yield smooth yogurt, but please experiment.

Once is has been heated the milk is cooled to 108-112*F. This is the optimal temperature for the bacteria to be added. At this point you can add the cultures to a small portion of the milk, mixing well. Then add that milk back into the rest of the milk. You can now transfer your milk into your glass jars to be fermented in your yogurt maker. The milk will be kept warm until it sets (typically overnight or for 8-12 hours).

Homemade Yogurt Overnight Parfait
This isn’t rocket science. Feel free to use your own (store bought even) ingredients. Here’s mine.

Layer 1/2 jar homemade yogurt, cooked quinoa (or other whole grain), other 1/2 jar yogurt, raw oats, 1 T water, and top with almonds and dried cherries. Let sit overnight in the fridge. Enjoy the next morning with fresh fruit or granola.

Best on the go breakfast. Or lazy-day breakfast. Whichever you’re feeling.

Lauren

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