We eat yogurt everyday in our family, twice a day sometimes. Les yaourts et autres produits laitiers are a big part of the French diet. Most foreigners don't realize it (beyond the traditional crème brûlée or crème au caramel and the obvious fromages) until they enter a supermarket and get overwhelmed by the size of the dairy products aisles. It's like going to the chips section (or rather the granola/power bars these days) of an American supermarket. Except 10 times bigger! Whenever I go back to France, I love going to the dairy section of any supermarket. I love looking at the new offerings, the new packaging and generally go back home with more yogurts that I can have! It's just heaven to me!
I grew up eating plain yogurt. Homemade plain yogurt . Made without a yogurt maker. Plain yogurt made by my grand-mother in her kitchen huche or by my mother in a boite à chaussures... You see, you don't need a yogurt maker to make good yogurts. The only thing you REALLY need is a thermometer (in addition to milk and another yogurt/yogurt starter). Then, you need a shoe box and newspaper. If your place is not warm enough, a blanket or extra towels as well. And here is your Marmite norvégienne, (aka thermal cooker; I guess they use it a lot in Norway (like in Hong-Kong or Japan.)) The principle of the thermal cooker is simple: it uses heat retention to finish the cooking without additional energy : you heat your milk, you pour it into a jar, add a little bit of yogurt (or yogurt starter); you put the jar in the marmitte norvégienne and let it do the magic work overnight! Plain easy! And no need to purchase a real thermal cooker unless you plan on going camping this Summer or making real enery savings (that said, I'd love to try to cook something in a real thermal cooker one day!)
Making home-made yogurt only requires you to
I did purchase a yogurt maker a few years ago when good yogurts were really hard to find in Upstate New York. I used it a few times and then it stayed in my closet for years. Until I spent last Summer in France where my mother taught my children, my nephews and nieces how to make homemade yogurts. They were all thrilled... to the point that we were all fighting to have "du yaourt de grand-mère", instead of the other (really good) yaourts.
Since then, I have been making my own yogurts again... but because I can't really figure out how my made-in-China-with-instructions-that-make-IKEA-instructions-seem-really-detailed yogurt maker actually works (the light is always on and it's still warm after 8 hours even if I set it up for 4), I will definitively go back to a home-made marmitte norvégienne. I don't care if my husband frowns (he tends to think that I have some eco-freek traits)... at least, my children will always know how to make yogurt! And that, for French people, is a survival skill!
Make your own! It's really easy! It's delicious and as usual, you control your ingredients! Bon Appétit!
- Glass jar(s) (with lid)
- Milk (I use Organic whole milk or 2%) : you want as much milk (in volume) as the volume of your glass jar(s)
- One plain Organic yogurt or yogurt starter
- A yogurt thermometer
- A marmite norvégienne (a shoebox filled with newspaper and an extra towel to keep it warm)
My Personal Comments:
- In a sauce pan over medium heat, boil milk.
- Wait until milk temperature decreases to 122-131F (or 50-55C)
- Add some yogurt (or yogurt starter) to the milk
- Pour into glass jars and close lids
- Put overnight in the marmite norvégienne
- Put in the fridge for a few hours
- Eat with fresh fruits, fruits coulis, Granola, Apple Sauce, etc.
- If you use yogurt starter, follow the instructions to add as much as needed depending on the volume of milk you are using.
- If you are using regular yogurt, I generally use 1 Ts for a Bonne-Maman marmelade (12/13 oz) jar which I fill up to the top with milk.
- If your yogurts are too liquid, contemplate adding a little bit more yogurt/starter at first and adding an extra blanket to your marmite norvégienne to increase heat retention.
- Once you master the plain version, you can try to flavor the milk with vanilla bean for instance.