Homemade yogurt is so simple to prepare that you may never use the store-bought version again! Here you’ll learn how to make yogurt for your baby – and for the whole family – to enjoy…
As with all new foods, you should speak to your doctor before including yogurt in your baby’s diet.
In general, babies can be introduced to yogurt from 6 months of age, but there are certain situations when it may be better to wait until after your baby’s first birthday (please see our page about Introducing Dairy for more information).
Yogurts are considered to be one of the ‘safer’ dairy products to introduce to your baby. This is because the allergenic protein in milk is broken down during the fermenting process, making it easier to digest and less likely to cause an allergic reaction or other negative response.
Yogurt may, therefore, better tolerated by individuals with lactose intolerance and milk allergy than most other dairy products (see AAP RECOMMENDS LACTOSE INTOLERANT CHILDREN CONSUME SOME DAIRY PRODUCTS).
Packed with gut-friendly bacteria, yogurt is an excellent aid to digestion and – in the long term – helps guard against colon cancer.
Yogurt is also an excellent source of calcium for your baby – the ‘live’ bacteria it contains actually help your baby’s body absorb the calcium very efficiently.
This means that, ounce for ounce, your baby receives more calcium from yogurt than from milk. The same applies to the protein in yogurt, which is easily digested thanks to the fermentation process that breaks it down.
Absolutely – and that’s because it’s so incredibly simple to make! And that’s not all – the taste is superior to that of commercially made yogurt (after all, it’s as fresh as can be!) and you know JUST what it contains!
It’s very easy to prepare homemade yogurt in large batches, so you can keep the whole family supplied with very little effort and cost – we can’t think of a good reason NOT to make your own yogurt!
In a nutshell, yogurt is made by fermenting milk with ‘friendly’ bacteria.
When you introduce the ‘friendly’ bacteria to the milk, they feed on the milk sugar (lactose). The milk then thickens and lactic acid is produced. This is responsible for the somewhat tart flavour of yogurt and also keeps the milk from spoiling – leaving you with a product that’s both nutritious and safe.
So how do you introduce ‘friendly’ bacteria into milk?
Well, you need a yogurt starter!Commercial starters are available from natural and health food stores – and also online from Amazon – but another option is to use a small amount of a store-bought natural, unflavoured yogurt.
PLEASE NOTE: If you choose to use a commercial starter, please read the instructions on the pack as the temperatures required may differ from those shown here.
When buying a commercially prepared yogurt to use as a ‘starter’, you should…
Once you’ve made your first batch of homemade yogurt, you can use some of it as the starter for your next batch. You may find that, by around your fifth batch, your results aren’t as good – if this is the case, just buy a new tub of natural yogurt to start the process again!
Assemble your ‘yogurt making’ equipment – which is actually far more basic than you’d expect! Yes, you can buy a yogurt maker – and yes, it may make things a little easier. But it’s by no means essential – we regularly prepare our own yogurt and have NEVER used one!
Here’s what you’ll need…
Please note that the quantities of milk and yogurt shown here are just to illustrate the proportions you’ll need. You can double or even treble the quantities if you wish.
Fill the pot with water, boil for a few minutes, then add the spoon and thermometer. This sterilizes your equipment and ensures a better end result.
Empty the pot, then pour in the milk. Gently warm it to a temperature of 185 deg F, to kill any ‘bad’ bacteria it may contain (these can have an adverse effect on the finished product). Watch the pot closely and be careful not to burn the milk!
Remove the pot from the heat and set aside. You need to cool the milk to between 110 and 115 deg F, because these are the temperatures between which the live bacteria will efficiently ferment the milk.
It is possible to speed up this step by sitting the pot in a larger pot full of ice. But – unless you’re willing to stir the pot every minute or two to ensure even cooling – we wouldn’t recommend this and find it easier to allow the milk to cool by itself.
Thoroughly stir the yogurt into the milk, then immediately place the lid on the pot. Move the pot at once to a warm place, where you can leave it – undisturbed – for a minimum of six hours.
There are two important rules to obey at this point to guarantee a good yogurt
How to keep the pot at a consistent temperature…
Most ovens do not have a low enough heat setting for producing yogurt, so here are a few other methods to try:
After a minimum of 6 hours, take a look at your yogurt. The longer you leave the yogurt, the thicker it will become (and the more ‘tangy’ it will taste!). We actually find 7 hours to be the perfect length of time.
Now – you may find that the yogurt doesn’t look quite the way you were expecting it to!
It will probably have a ‘layer’ of liquid on top of milk curds – and the liquid may even look a little yellow. Don’t worry – this is totally normal! Just mix the curds and the liquid together (although it’s OK to spoon the liquid off if you prefer!).
The yogurt will be thinner in consistency than store-bought yogurts – but that’s because they tend to contain additional thickeners and YOUR yogurt is 100% natural! Remember – you can make it a little thicker next time by allowing it to ferment for longer.
Pour your homemade yogurt into suitable containers with lids, then refrigerate. Refrigeration actually stops the bacteria in the yogurt from creating any more lactic acid – that’s why the yogurt doesn’t ferment and thicken any further. You can store it for up to a week in the refrigerator.
Voila! Your homemade yogurt is ready… wasn’t that easy?
Now you’ve seen how quickly you can produce large batches of healthy and delicious homemade yogurt, here are some ways in which you can serve it to your baby…