I’ve been seeing packaging everywhere these days. Everywhere! I feel sort of like one of the people in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. I honestly don’t know how I was not seeing it before. What’s really bothering about starting to notice all of this is that I know all of that packaging ends up in the waste stream eventually. Not buying products is the best (only, really) way to cut down on how much waste I put into the system. I think the “one day at a time” approach is best in overwhelming situations like this.
For today, I’m tackling the yogurt problem. Our household is half Indian. For those of you who aren’t aware, Indian cuisine is rather yogurt-intensive. Plus I like to put stuff in it and eat it for breakfast. It’s not at all uncommon for us to buy three of the large tubs at a time.
We recently spent five weeks in India. We ate a whole lot of yogurt while we were there. And guess what? None of it came from a store. I remembered hearing that when an Indian family returns from vacation, they need to go ask the neighbors for a spoonful of yogurt to start theirs again, since the live cultures are what actually turn it into yogurt.
Seeing how we had just returned from an Indian vacation, I figured this would be a good a time as any to start making my own. Making my own yogurt results in two of my key goals these days: I get zero packaging and save money. Also, it’s super easy. Really.
Here’s the recipe, compliments of my friend Sree (thanks!):
Total time investment by me: less than 15 minutes.
Yogurt (with live cultures)
Take a bunch of milk. How much milk depends on how much yogurt you want to make.
Heat the milk just to boiling on the stove, or in the microwave (time will vary, but try 10 minutes, stir around a bit, then do another two). I used the stove top method.
Turn off heat and let milk cool to the point where you can stick a finger in it and leave it for a second (without serious pain).
While the milk was cooling, I set my oven to heat up to about 200 degrees.
Once the milk has cooled down, put a spoonful of yogurt into the milk. IMPORTANT: this yogurt must contain live cultures - it will say so right on the container. I didn’t measure it, I just dumped a good sized dollop in (it’s all going to be yogurt in the end, so I figure use a bit more rather than less. I probably put about 3 Tablespoons or so).
Beat this for a while with a whisk. Maybe a minute or so.
Turn your oven off.
Put the bowl into the warm oven, covered with a lid or cloth. Let it set about 10 or 12 hours. I reheated the oven to about 180 about 2 or 3 hours into it, but I’m not sure this is necessary. You just want it to stay sort of warm. You’ll know it’s done when it looks like yogurt.
Once you've made it once, you can start making a habit of using the last few tablespoons of each batch to make some more.