Yogurt Machine: Sugar Free Strawberry Yogurt

Remember when I confessed to my (not so) secret obsession with yogurt?  Well the obsession has now become full blown because my yogurt machine arrived and guess what?  It works!

This yogurt machine is seriously, like, the best thing ever.  My aunt bought it for me and told me that it is the same kind she uses in her own kitchen.  She also got me a box of 8 replacement glass jars in case one gets broken, or I want to cook more than one batch at a time.

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I have been intrigued with the idea of fermenting my own yogurt at home for a long time.  If you go to the grocery store and take a look at most of the varieties, you'll see that although the calories and fat may have been reduced, the carbohydrates and sugar can be quite high.  Even my favorite kind, Dannon Light & Fit Greek, has 9 carbs, not to mention a pack of 4 yogurts is around $4.00.  If the awesome boyfriend and I each have one cup of yogurt a day, we would be spending $730 a year on yogurt, and that is too big a number for me to reconcile.  Our last vacation didn't even cost that much.  

According to Dana Carpender, one of the pied pipers of low carb cooking, you can make yogurt as home that has as few as 4 carbs per Cup.  That is tremendous when you think about the fact that 1/2 Cup of the store bought stuff has 10 or more carbs.  Another quality of homemade yogurt that has always intrigued me is how many different ways you can make it to manipulate the nutritional content.  There are some very long threads on popular low carb forums about how to get the most bang for your yogurt buck.  I'm a homemade yogurt newbie so I decided to stick to a pretty basic recipe the first time around.

1 quart whole milk
1 C sliced strawberries
2 Tbsp water
1/2 C Splenda
1 individual serving yogurt with live and active cultures
1 tsp banana extract

  1. Add the milk and Splenda to a medium sized saucepan and cook over high heat, stirring continuously.  
  2. Once the yogurt begins to boil, remove it from heat and allow to cool to room temperature (about 30 minutes).  
  3. While milk is cooking, add strawberries and water to a small saucepan and heat over medium high.
  4. Stir strawberries occasionally, until fruit has reduced and wilted.  When finished cooking, strawberries will have a jelly-like consistency.  
  5. Let strawberries cool 10 minutes, then add to room temperature milk.  
  6. Add banana extract to milk mixture.  
  7. Add yogurt with active cultures to milk mixture, and stir briskly with a whisk until all ingredients are incorporated.  
  8. Transfer milk mixture to jars and place jars in yogurt machine base without lids.  
  9. Cover yogurt machine base with lid and cook for 8 hours, or until yogurt has thickened.  
  10. After yogurt has thickened, place lids on jars and refrigerate overnight.  
  • I read on a low carb forum that you can just add a couple of Tablespoons of sugar free strawberry jelly if you don't feel like flavoring your yogurt with real fruit.  Cooking down the strawberries was a little bit tedious, but also delicious.  Next time I'm going to try the jelly trick and see if I can tell the difference.  
  • Most of the yogurts that I looked at in the grocery store do have live and active cultures.  It will be written, somewhere easy to find, on the outside of the package.  If you get an organic variety, like Stonyfield Farms, you can be assured that the live bacteria cultures you need will be in there.  
  • There is a lot of wisdom available about how long you should allow your yogurt to cook.  Some say 6 hours, some say 10 hours, and most say it depends on what kind of milk you use.  I'm not sure that it is an exact science.  I just cooked for 8 hours and tested the consistency of one of the jars with a spoon before serving.  
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