Have you ever wanted to know how to make yogurt? It’s very easy and super cost effective. So why not give it a try?
It’s that time of the year again – Spring is around the corner. This Sunday is the first day of Spring and the first day of the Persian New Year, or Norouz. I have spent the past few weeks cleaning and purging things all over the house. Unfortunately, with kids, it all turns to disarray again rather quickly. But I think I get an ‘A’ for effort.
This year marks my third year participating for a Norouz roundup with my fellow Persian food bloggers. I have already shared in past posts the traditional foods we serve to celebrate spring and the new year. I even have an ebook with everything you need to know about this beautiful 3,000-year old holiday. (Click here to learn more about my Norouz ebook)
So today I am talking about one vital ingredient in the Persian pantry: yogurt. This is not the bland stuff you find in the grocery stores. Real Persian yogurt has tremendous flavor and is a little bit sour. Not sour like, “This yogurt has spoiled!” No, more like a “Oooh! This is tangy!”
One of my favorite brands of yogurt that I buy from my Persian market is the Abali brand. But, I always wanted to make my own yogurt, like my grandmother and mother would. And considering how much yogurt my family consumes every week, this is one way to save money.
To make yogurt you just need two ingredients: your starter yogurt and milk.
The basic formula for yogurt making is one gallon of milk and one cup of yogurt – plain and NOT flavored.
The yogurt you choose for your starter is very important. Your homemade yogurt will take on the flavor of that starter yogurt. Since I wanted sour yogurt, I used Abali as my starter.
You do have to heat your milk, just until boiling. This helps change the protein in the milk to set as a solid instead of separating into a mess. You do not want to boil your milk or burn it. But, don’t worry. I scorched my milk a little bit and my yogurt turned out fine.
Once the milk is heated to just before boiling, whisk it again and let it sit until it cools. The milk needs to cool to touch, but not be cool. Around 114ºF worked for me. I was able to dip my finger without getting burned.
In a small bowl, whisk your yogurt started and whisk in some warm milk to thin it out. Once smooth, pour the rest of the warm milk into the yogurt mix and whisk completely.
If your weather is warm or if you are cooking all day, you can cover your yogurt and let it sit on the counter. But the anal retentive person that I am, I like better rules. After some searching online, I found this technique to work beautifully: Heat your oven to the lowest temperature possible. For my oven, it was 170ºF. Once heated, turn the oven off. Cover your bowl with a towel and place it in the warm oven.
For me, the yogurt set pretty quickly, around 5 hours. But I let my yogurt ‘incubate’ for 24 hours. This is another way to insure that my yogurt would be tangy. Because of the cultures and bacteria in your yogurt, it will not spoil during this 24-hour wait.
For thicker yogurt, pass it through a cheese cloth and let it sit and drip. The thickness is up to you. I’m a bit impatient so I gently squeezed out what I could and left it at that.
Persians use yogurt in a number of different of dishes like appetizers, dips, soups, marinades, rice and drinks. I love using yogurt in my baking – they make my cakes moist and beautiful. Check out all of my yogurt recipes here.
Of course, you can always keep it simple and just add fruit and granola to your homemade yogurt!
And enjoy all of the other fabulous Persian dishes prepared by my friends here: