Yogurt and Kefir are very good for you. It’s my favorite snack! They spur your metabolism, add precious calcium to your diet, assist your body in fighting yeast overgrowth by encouraging a healthy ph balance in your body, and they’re delicious. Supplementing your families’ diet with these two power foods is a no-brainer. Use them in desserts, smoothies and as dips for fruit. Unfortunately, they’re often quite expensive, especially if you’re buying low sugar, low fat, or choosing organic.
Kefir is actually quite different from yogurt, but we don’t have to go into details on that. If you’re interested there are plenty of blogs and books that cover the differences in detail. In our house we consider Kefir ‘liquid yogurt’. They taste very, very similar, the major difference for us is that you drink kefir and you spoon yogurt.
We eat about a quart of both yogurt and kefir each day, so I’ve been making my own now for a long time. When I first started, I bought into the idea that you needed the fancy yogurt maker to make good yogurt, but lately I’ve just been making it the old fashioned way and I’ve found that it’s much less hassle.
Making Homemade Kefir
Yes, it’s entirely possible to make yogurt from yogurt and kefir from kefir, but I’m busy and it’s easier for me to buy the starter. I’ve heard that using real kefir buds, rather than the starter, tastes better, but this stuff is delicious so I haven’t had the inclination to try the fresh buds yet.
The Kefir starter I use, Yogourmet Freeze Dried Kefir Starter, is cheap and available from Amazon. But it on Subscribe and Save and you’ll knock off 15%. Homemade kefir runs me about $2.50 per quart, compared to about $5 in the store, and most of the cost is the organic milk we use ($7 per gallon!). The kefir starter itself works out to less than $.40 per quart. If you don’t do it organic, you can make this very, very cheaply ($1.25).
You scald the milk, getting the temperature to 180F, take off the burner and let cool to 75F, add the starter, mix well, pour it all into a quart jar, and store in a dark place for 24 hours. I just put it behind my canisters, sometimes with a towel over it, on my counter so it won’t get disturbed. After that, store in the refrigerator (or it will continue to get thicker and more tart). Sweeten with liquid Splenda or honey or some other sweetener and add the fruit as you serve.
Making Homemade Yogurt
Very similar process. Buy a starter. I use the Yogourmet Casei Bifidus Acidophilus Probiotic Yogurt Starter, which still results in a much cheaper version than store bought. Again, you’ll heat the milk to 180F, let cool to 75F, add the starter, and put in a quart jar and set in my gas oven (off). The pilot light keeps it warm enough to set. For yogurt, the set time is much different. Kefir takes 24 hours, yogurt can be done in 8. Strain it with cheesecloth when done.
You can take 1/4 cup of your yogurt or kefir and store in the freezer to use as a starter for your next batch. I’m too lazy, and the starter is so cheap, that I just use the starter packets. We use 2% Horizon Organic milk to make this, so I’m not sure how changing the fat content of milk would change these instructions. If you’re using full-fat milk, you might want to do a Google search to see if that would affect the recipe. You’ll need a good candy thermometer, but most kitchens have those already. If you don’t, Amazon has the Taylor Commercial Waterproof Digital Thermometer at a good price and it’s the one I use.
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