Did you know that I use about 40kg (90lb) yogurt per week in two restaurants?
Yogurt is a Turkish word! It’s one of the rare contributions of Turkish language to the world. Yogurt is quintessential food in my life as in millions of Turkish people! In Turkey, natural homemade yogurt is the first food we feed babies after breast feeding. Yogurt is the most important accompaniment to almost any meal. We use yogurt in almost everything, from soups to desserts, make pastries, marinade meat with it, we serve yogurt on kebabs, homemade pastas, even with fries! I love eating warm, crispy fries with garlic yogurt. As I always say, if we don’t eat yogurt, we drink it! “Ayran” is a national savory yogurt drink consumed all over Turkey. Traditionally, it’s made in “yayik” which is a wooden tambour also used to churn butter. To make “ayran”, yogurt is diluted with icy cold water and added some salt and shaked vigorously until frothy and creamy. It’s so refreshing that I can drink gallons of it during summer months.
Eighteen years ago, when I was coming to Montreal for the first time, my biggest question was “if there was no yogurt in Canada, how could I live there?”! I think my answer “I have yogurt in my veins instead of blood” is quite right when people are asking about how much I love yogurt.
Natural yogurt is one of the rare ingredients that can be used to make a meal lighter or richer. It can be transformed to any garnish or sauce by using spices, herbs or any other ingredients come in hand. When it’s strained 10-12 hours it becomes Greek yogurt and if continue to strain over 24 hours it becomes Labneh (yogurt cheese) and its thick creamy texture adds more richness to any meze spreads or any other recipes. For me, yogurt is more savory/salty than sweet but it’s very easy to add fresh or dried fruits, honey or maple syrup to make sweet yogurt snack when you have natural yogurt in your fridge.
Let’s make homemade natural yogurt today and later I’ll give many recipes with yogurt.
I like making yogurt before going to bed, so I can let the jars in the oven overnight and in the morning I store them in the fridge.
- 8 cup (2L) whole milk
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) organic natural yogurt
- Prepare 8 200ml mason jars in a pastry sheet. It can be any sheet or roasting pan adequate to hold 8 jars, it’s just easier to put them in the oven all together. Turn on the oven light and be sure that oven is totally cold.
- Boil the milk in a large sauce pan (to avoid over boiling and spilling all over) for about 30 to 40 minutes over medium high heat. I liked to reduce the milk to three quarters to obtain a ticker consistency yogurt.
- Pour boiled milk dividing equally in 8 jars. Reserve 6 tablespoon of it in a small bowl. Let them cool down milk to 38 °C - 40 °C. You can check the temperature with a regular or milk thermometer (I use the one that I use to make latte).
- Add yogurt in reserved milk bowl and mix well with a spoon until smooth runny paste.
- Add 1 tablespoon of milk-yogurt paste in each jar and stir lightly. Cover them with their lids and store in the oven. Let the magic happens for about 8 hours. Keep oven door closed and oven light on for the whole time.
- After yogurt is set. Take the jars out of the oven and store them directly in the fridge. Let cool at least 6-8 hours before using. I prefer to let them rest about 24 hours before using. You can keep them in the fridge up to one week. If you are making another batch of yogurt use your homemade one in 2-3 days after you made it to have more active bacteria.
If your yogurt didn’t set, don’t worry! Pour back the milk mix from jars to a stock pan, boil and add a pinch of salt. Milk will start to break and separate by letting milk curds. Pass through a mesh sieve store in the fridge and use it as a fresh cheese/ricotta.