I promised myself once I would never break a bone. So much for that

It’s been nearly five months. The bruises have faded, the fracture has remodeled, the deep, dime-sized gash in my hip has formed a lovely scar. I’m practically good as new.

As a child whose knees constantly demanded Band-Aids, I became fascinated by how quickly the body reacts to injury. From broken bones to deep wounds, the process of regeneration is like magic.

Inspecting my hip the other morning, I noticed a soft new layer of scar tissue. My eyes wandered over to the fresh yogurt I was blindly spooning into a jar, and then back to the scar. I thought, making yogurt at home is essentially regeneration. A delicious one at that.

You can make yogurt in your own home for a fraction of what it costs to buy. It is tastier, has a superior texture, creates less waste, and is more nutritious than most packaged varieties. And because it’s homemade, you control the variables. Like sweeter yogurt? Add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, cinnamon maybe. Want a thick yogurt? Start with milk that has a high percent milkfat, like 2% or whole.

The process requires only two ingredients and three to four steps, none of which are difficult: Heating and cooling (of milk); Inoculating with a starter (plain yogurt); Incubating in a warm environment (aka wrap in a towel); and Draining (through cheesecloth — optional). If you want to keep a batch going more or less indefinitely, save a tablespoon from the last batch and use it as the starter to regenerate more yogurt.

When just set it quivers like a plated flan — a beautifully creamy treat, to be sure. If you can harness your willpower and chill the jar several hours, it firms up like pudding, thick enough to hold your spoon upright. Yogurt could never taste better.

Shown above is a yogurt parfait I made for breakfast today. Yogurt on the bottom, cubes of cantaloupe, sections of blood orange (save that wonderful juice to sip), ground flaxseed and almond coconut granola. Pretty and extremely nutritious. A perfect way to “Eat Right with Color” for National Nutrition Month.

However you choose to eat it — out of the jar plain, in a parfait, dolloped on top of oatmeal or a hearty soup, with warm naan — remember to save that last tablespoon for yogurt regeneration!

Homemade Yogurt [makes 2 1/2 cups yogurt]

Printable recipe

Both soy and goat’s milk should work as well as cow’s, though I haven’t personally tried either.

1 heaping T plain low-fat, whole milk or Greek yogurt, containing active cultures (but no additives, stabilizers, etc.) – I used Dannon Plain Fat Free Yogurt

2 1/2 c good quality whole, 2% or 1% milk

Heating and Partly Cooling: Over medium to medium-high heat, bring the milk to a full boil in a saucepan, then turn down the heat and simmer 7 minutes. Pour the scalded milk into a bowl, through a strainer or cheesecloth if you have acquired any brown bits around the edge, and cool until you can hold your finger in the milk and count to 10. (I worked by feel, but if you’d like a temperature target, shoot for 110° F. It should be about 20 minutes either way.)

Inoculating: Place the yogurt in a small dish and add some of the milk to it to warm it up, then whisk it back into the milk.

Incubating: Pour into a clean glass jar, wrap with a towel or scarf and put in a warm place for 8 hours or overnight. (I chose to place them inside of the not-running microwave.)

Draining (optional): Line a colander or mesh strainer with tight-woven cheesecloth or butter muslin (even an old, clean white t-shirt or or handkerchief will suffice). Set it over a pot or bowl deep enough to hold up to 1 c liquid. Pour or scrape the yogurt into the colander and drain until it has lost close to half its volume in whey, usually about 3 to 4 hours. Turn out the drained yogurt into a larger bowl, and stir it as smooth as possible with a wooden spoon.

After the rest, put the jar in the fridge to chill before eating. The yogurt will last 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Make sure to save a few tablespoons to make the next batch. It will most reliably keep up its (culture) activity if you use it within a week (preferably less) of making.

Adapted from The Family Kitchen