Homemade Yogurt and its Health Benefits
I have been getting a lot of requests on this topic and so I promised to post the recipe here at my blog this weekend. I have always been a fan of yogurt. It is one of those items that are always in my grocery list. I eat yogurt with fresh fruits, muesli, etc and also add it into my smoothies once in a while. During my Ashtanga teacher training 2 months ago, I was absolutely delighted that my Guru Jovan served us and taught us how to make it at home. He provided me with the started "curd" that you need to culture the milk.
First let me begin by giving some of the health benefits that we can get from eating yogurt. And just what are the health benefits of yogurt?
Your body needs to have a healthy amount of ''good'' bacteria in the digestive tract, and many yogurts are made using active, good bacteria. One of the words you’ll be hearing more of in relation to yogurt is ''probiotics.'' Probiotic, which literally means ''for life,'' refers to living organisms that can result in a health benefit when eaten in adequate amounts.
Yogurt also comes from milk. So yogurt eaters will also get a dose of animal protein (about 9 grams per 6-ounce serving), plus several other nutrients found in dairy foods, like calcium, vitamin B-2, B-12, potassium, and magnesium.
Benefit No. 1: Yogurt May Help Prevent Osteoporosis
''Adequate nutrition plays a major role in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, and the micronutrients of greatest importance are calcium and vitamin D,'' says Jeri Nieves, PhD, MS, director of bone density testing at New York’s Helen Hayes Hospital.
Calcium has been shown to have beneficial effects on bone mass in people of all ages, although the results are not always consistent, says Nieves, also an assistant professor of clinical epidemiology at Columbia University.
Benefit No. 2: Yogurt May Reduce the Risk of High Blood Pressure
''We observed a 50% reduction in the risk of developing high blood pressure among people eating 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy a day (or more), compared with those without any intake,'' Alvaro Alonso, MD, PhD, a researcher in the department of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in an email interview.
Benefit No. 3: Yogurt With Active Cultures Helps the Gut
Yogurt with active cultures may help certain gastrointestinal conditions, including:
- Lactose intolerance
- Colon cancer
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- H. pylori infection
Benefit No. 4: Yogurt With Active Cultures May Discourage Vaginal Infections
Candida or "yeast" vaginal infections are a common problem for women with diabetes. In a small study, seven diabetic women with chronic Candidal vaginitis consumed 6 ounces of frozen aspartame-sweetened yogurt per day (with or without active cultures).
Even though most of the women had poor blood sugar control throughout the study, the vaginal pH (measure of acidity or basicity) of the group eating yogurt with active cultures dropped from 6.0 to 4.0 (normal pH is 4.0-4.5). These women also reported a decrease in Candida infections. The women eating the yogurt without active cultures remained at pH 6.0.
Having said that here's the much-asked about homemade recipe as I learned it from my guruji. What I love most about this one is that I do not need to measure the temperature and just base it on the "feeling" (very yogi philosophy I must say) unlike all the recipes you will find online which requires a lot of measuring and checking of temperature. I trusted the procedure and have been making it ever since. Here it goes;
GURUJI'S HOMEMADE YOGURT
2 Liters Full Cream Milk *
*According to him, this won't work with soymilk/almond/nut milk as the fat is needed for the bacteria to flourish
3 tbsp. starter culture/curd
* You can buy the starter in select Indian stores/groceries
1. Place milk in a pot and heat up only until a slight simmer ( DO NOT LET IT BOIL!)
2. Turn-off heat and mix to slightly cool down.
3. Use your finger as a guide to see whether you are at the RIGHT temperature. When you can fully immerse your finger (meaning it is not THAT hot anymore then it is ready.
4. Pour in the starter culture and mix for a few minutes.
5. Cover the pot and place in a warm area of your kitchen or inside the cupboard.
6. Leave for at least 6 hours or until it sets (you can check by shaking the pot, if the yogurt doesn't "move" as much or is not too liquid anymore then it is ready). You can go up to 12 hours if you want it more tart.
7. Transfer to a jar.container and store inside the refrigerator.
I hope this very simple recipe inspires you all to experiment and make your own yogurt at home. Like me, cross it out from your grocery list as well! Not only do you save money, you also improve your health and well-being. Happy yogurt-making!
P.S. I would appreciate feedback to those who try this. I would love to hear from all of you.