Cooking Classes


Cooking Class Monday - Yogurt

It is a new year and a great time for a new project. Welcome Cooking Class Mondays! Yeah! Each Monday I will share a cooking or kitchen technique. Often it will be simple and sometimes it will be more detailed. Are you prepared for this journey with me? I hope so. Here we go!

And if there are any bloggers out there that would like to join in, let me know. You don't have to commit every week but if you are in the mood and want to join in that would be awesome.  It would be fun to have a Virtual Cooking School.  Or if you would like to guest post, please let me know.  I would be honoured to have you participate.

I have been making yogurt since I discovered it as a university student. Homemade yogurt has a wonderful tang that is not found in the commercial varieties. It is much less expensive, has no stabilizers, preservatives or sugar, has a live bacteria culture and there is no waste of packaging.

Purchased yogurt is often made with a gelatin base. Probiotic yogurt is made with a live bacteria culture and has proven health benefits. (Canadian Research and Development Centre for Probiotics). Making yogurt at home with a live culture is really easy. There are all sorts of yogurt makers on the market but I have a very simple method that requires no special equipment.

I make a litre of yogurt at a time. Heat the milk to 110F, pour into a container, add the culture and stir. Wrap with a towel to keep cozy and let it incubate for 5 or more hours and then chill. Be sure to leave your yogurt mixture alone and not move it about. It will not set up properly if disturbed. Do not chill until the yogurt has completely thickened. Then chill, cover tightly and it will keep one week or longer.

Modern pasteurization no longer necessitates scalding the milk. Scalding deactivates enzymes in milk that prevent the culture from flourishing. If you are using raw milk it is essential to scald it.

If you do not have a thermometer, 110F is lukewarm just slightly warmer than body temperature. Use your little finger to test the milk and it should feel pleasantly warm.

The yogurt culture can be obtained from a purchased plain yogurt that has active culture as an ingredient or you can purchase a dried culture from a health food store.

Your first batch of homemade yogurt may not be as thick as you are used to but subsequent batches made using your own yogurt as a starter culture will be thicker. Yogurt will not continue to thicken after it is refrigerated. Fresh milk is essential. Also, if you are using yogurt rather than dried culture as a starter, it should also be fresh. Packets of dried culture should be stored in the refrigerator.

Plain Yogurt
4 c. milk, low fat or whole                        
2 tbsp. yogurt culture or 1 pkg of dried purchased starter                        

If using raw milk, scald. Do this by gently heating until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. This is just to the brink of boiling. This is 180F. Pour into your container. Cool to 110F.

Stir 2 tbsp. (60 mL) of plain yogurt or one packet of dried culture into the warm milk. Wrap in a towel and keep in a warm place for 4 – 5 hours. When the yogurt has thickened, refrigerate.

With that first batch of yogurt that is thinner you can make a lassi. This is an Indian beverage that can be flavoured with mango or other fruits.

Greek Yogurt, Labneh and Yogurt Cheese
Greek yogurt is simply a strained yogurt. Strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth overnight in the refrigerator. The liquid collected is the whey and is also nutrient rich and can be frozen in ice cube trays. This strained yogurt can be used to make dips like tzatziki or feta dip. It is thick enough that you can substitute it for sour cream. Labneh is a thicker Lebanese style yogurt that is like the newly popular Greek yogurt or can be as thick as a soft cheese.

If you want an even thicker product, hang the yogurt in cheesecloth for 2 days and you will have something similar to a cream cheese.

Sweet Lassi
2 c. plain yogurt                        
2 tbsp. honey                                    
4-5 ice cubes
1/4 c. fruit                                    
Pinch cardamom or cinnamon, optional

Place all in a food processor and purée. Pour into chilled glass and serve. This will not be as thick as a smoothie. You can use whey ice cubes for added nutrition.

Strawberry Banana Fruit Smoothie
3 c. frozen strawberries                        
1 frozen banana
3/4 c. yogurt                                                
3/4 c. milk                                                
1 tbsp. honey, optional                         

Puree in blender until it resembles ice cream.  Serve immediately.  Makes 4 servings.

Feta Dip
2 c. strained yogurt                        
1 c. feta, crumbled                        
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried mint                        

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate for 2 hours before using. This is nice with lamb meatballs and fresh vegetable crudités.

Yogurt Ranch Dressing                       
 1/3 c. nonfat Greek style yogurt                        
 1/3 c. low fat buttermilk                                    
 3 tbsp. mayonnaise                                               
 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice                                    
 1 tsp. Dijon mustard                                   
 1/2 tsp. onion powder                                    
 1/4 tsp. garlic powder                                    
 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives or green onions            

In a medium bowl, combine the strained or Greek-style yogurt and the rest of the ingredients. Add salt, to taste.   (Source Food Network)

Ideas with yogurt

·      Mix with preserves or fresh fruit and top with granola for a healthy breakfast or snack
·      Use the labneh or yogurt cheese and spread on a plate. Drizzle with a good quality olive oil and sprinkle with herbs and spices. Use dried thyme, black pepper, toasted sesame seeds, lemon zest, sea salt, dried oregano, paprika or anything that you like.
·      Mix herbs and garlic into the strained yogurt to use as a vegetable dip.
·      Use instead of sour cream or mayonnaise with baked potatoes, pasta, coleslaw or soup.
·      Whey can be used instead of water when baking, added to soups, stews, smoothies, water your plants, feed to your animals, or compost it. Freeze in an ice cube tray and add to smoothies.


  1. I remember my mom making yogurt when we were in our teens, but then she has always been ahead of her time since my dad is a vegetarian.

    1. Yes, this 'new' craze for fermentation isn't new at all, is it? It should be called a revival.

  2. Wonderful tutorial. I love homemade yogurt as my grandmother used to make it regularly. It's so easy and I have many jars of canned fruit just begging to be paired with such a dreamy dairy option. Thanks the inspiration and how-to, Sarah! Tom

  3. Wow - I love all the different versions you've created. I need to get me some yogurt starter!

  4. Great post! I've never tried making yogurt at home before but now it doesn't seem too intimidating. I can only imagine how great lassi would be with freshly made yogurt!


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