The road to frugality is typically paved with little milestones: a cloth diaper here, a loaf of homemade bread there. Sound familiar? One of the first frugal lifestyle changes that we made was the switch to homemade yogurt.
A few years ago I had been feeding my skinny toddler lots of full fat yogurt. We love Nancy’s Yogurt. It’s tart, and creamy, and amazing. I knew we could save money by making our own and so after much experimentation I created an acceptable recipe for making homemade yogurt, using a yogurt incubator.
The Downside to Typical Homemade Yogurt
Making the yogurt wasn’t a ton of work, but it certainly wasn’t the easiest task in the world. Scalding the milk, cooling it, mixing in the starter, and then pouring the liquid into jars to incubate was simple but still time consuming. Frankly, I don’t care much for time consumption!
As our family expanded, we reverted back to store bought yogurt for convenience and to save me from having to create a new batch of creamy white goodness every other day.
A year ago I stumbled on a way to make yogurt that rocked my busy little world. Wait for it…
Ever hear of it? The stuff that you buy at the store (and the style that is almost always lauded online) is called thermophilic yogurt. The bacteria in popular thermophilic yogurt is cultured at a warm temperature, requiring a small heat source for its 8-16 hr. duration.
Mesophilic yogurt? It cultures at room temperature. No need to bother with an incubator or crock pot or towels and lamps and whatnot. It’s pretty much awesome.
What is mesophilic yogurt?
Mesophilic simply means that the bacteria in the yogurt multiply when the temperature is moderate. There are many different varieties of this type of yogurt, including Viili, Piima, Matsoni, and Filmjolk (my favorite!). Each mesophilic variety tastes slightly different.
Why is mesophilic yogurt easier to make than regular homemade yogurt?
Unlike with thermophilic yogurt, mesophilic yogurt cultures at room temperature. That means no additional heat is necessary. Typically folks use a yogurt maker, oven, crock pot, or insulated container to keep the culture at the right temperature. With mesophilic yogurt that’s not necessary!
How do I make mesophilic yogurt?
There are two steps to create this ridiculously easy homemade yogurt:
1. Put a couple tablespoons of mesophilic yogurt (or the powdered yogurt culture) into a clean jar
2. Fill the jar with milk (I prefer whole milk) and stir
That’s it! Now cover the jar with a clean cloth and let it sit for 12-24hrs. You’ll know when your homemade yogurt is done because it will firm up and become more solid. The picture above shows the typical end product after using whole milk.
It’s like a thick milk. We typically pour this homemade yogurt, but could be spooned if that’s your thing (particularly when the batch is really fresh, the jar above had already been disturbed with a spoon throughout the week).
You can also try with 2% milk, although you’ll get a runnier end product. If you want to really indulge, try using half & half or cream. The result is a creamy yogurt that tastes oh so decadent.
We prefer to use ours in smoothies, but it’s also spoonable (though not as thick as typical yogurt unless you include some cream). I’ve also used a yogurt strainer with great success to create an even thicker final product.
Where can I find cultures for mesophilic yogurt?
I purchased my starters at Cultures For Health. They’re a great company with loads of informational resources to help you with culturing foods.
You may also have success with this mesophilic culture on Amazon, though I’ve never tried that variety. It contains two strains of bacteria.