I remember my mom attempting to make yogurt on only a few occasions while I was a kid. She assured me that it would taste much better than the store-bought. I’m sure I had a “seeing is believing” look on my face. The words may have even escaped my lips, who knows. I hated most plain yogurt then, and I still do. It’s too tart and is only palatable if heavily dosed with jam or honey. But my mom insisted that the kind her mother had made wasn’t like that.
(Skip to the recipe here, or read the story and catch the recipe link below) Greek Yogurt Recipe
She was relying on her memory (no comment on that!) of what she saw her own mom doing. Those memories were 15-20 years old by then if not older, and by my mom’s own admission, she hadn’t really paid close attention anyway. My mom would heat up a bunch of milk in a large pot, then cover it with a clean dish cloth and set it in the oven with the light on. This is what her mom had done, sans oven light because electricity wasn’t a thing in the village then. Checking on it several hours later revealed that nothing had happened. Not one bit of change. Just a lot of warm milk that left us wondering if it was okay to still use it.
This was, of course, pre-internet, so of course pre-Google, and well, pre-home computer, too. Given the fact that my mom still struggles with text messaging, I’m not sure it would have made a difference, anyway! Cook books were useless for this, and the trend then was going away from do-it-yourself because what the heck were grocery stores for. It wasn’t until years later that a solution came to me in the form of a bridal shower gift. A West-Bend yogurt maker, given to me by one of the ladies from church who was (and still is) one of the most unconventional church-ladies I know. She was inspired to get this for me when she heard I had hiked to the top of Yosemite’s Half Dome (twice) and thought I would appreciate this among the other gifts of china and crystal. She was right.
What made the yogurt maker such a game changer was that it came with instructions and RECIPES! Halleluiah! I was able to finally figure out what my mom didn’t realize she needed: starter cultures. Without a source of the organisms that change regular milk into deliciously creamy yogurt you weren’t going to get anywhere. Not only could I now make yogurt easily at home, I could also customize it with different sources of cultures and allowing them to work for different lengths of time, as well as by altering the balance of milk and cream for a richer product. No more sour yogurt!! Yay!
Read here for the recipe, as well as tips and techniques for making the best Greek yogurt ever. Greek Yogurt Recipe