Difficulty level Moderate
Accidentally discovered by Middle Eastern nomads thousands of years ago, according to legend, yogurt (or yoghurt, yoghourt or yogourt, depending on how like to spell it) is produced by bacterial fermentation of milk. Lactose, the milk sugar, ferments to produce lactic acid, which acts on milk protein to give the dairy delight its smooth texture and characteristic tang. And it's surprisingly easy to make yourself.
One great thing about whipping up homemade versions of foods like yogurt, aside from the (usually) better-than-store-bought taste you can achieve, and the self-satisfaction from making it yourself, is that you control all (or almost all) of the variables and tastes. Want it sweeter? Add some honey or maple syrup. Like it thicker? Use milk with higher milkfat. The choices are all yours.
Because you're in charge, those choices can be as green as you want them to be. You can use hormone- and antibiotic-free organic milk from a local dairy to ensure great taste and sustainable production, or buy straight from a local farmer at your local farmer's market; alternately, you can use soy milk to cut animals out of the equation altogether.Once you've decided where your milk (or other base; milk from goats and sheep can be a tasty alternative as well), you'll need just a few other things. Yogurt is alive, as it is home to several live cultures with myriad health benefits, so you can either get a good yogurt you like that's made with "live cultures" (it'd say on the tub) or a yogurt starter like Yogourmet, which is usually in powder form.
These starters are what jump-start the bacteria-growth process and ultimately help turn your milk into yogurt. If you've got powdered milk (which is optional) and an instant-read or candy thermometer (not optional), you're ready to go. Here's the recipe:
|4 cups||milk (1 quart)|
|1/2 cup||powdered milk (optional)|
|1/2 cup||"live culture" yogurt or other dried starter (it'll tell you how much to use)|
Since variety is the spice of life, try a different recipe, if you'd like, and learn more about yogurt from Wikipedia.