Yes, you can make fresh yogurt on the trail — I’ve been doing it on wilderness trips for as long as I can remember. While not part of the ultralight mindset because of the need for a thermos, is a great treat and is a wonderful way to get some calcium.
This recipe isn’t really a recipe — it’s more of a technique and it requires a little advance planning.
makes 2 to 3 servings
Making homemade yogurt is very easy to do on the trail. You will need a 2-cup, high-quality, very clean, stainless steel thermos for this, and it is one of those recipes actually works better with powdered milk. It is best to make yogurt in the late afternoon the day before as it takes the culture some time to do its job. You should probably test this recipe at home first to get the hang of it. Once you do, you’ll be making fresh yogurt on many of your trips.
8 tablespoons milk powder
1 teaspoon yogurt culture powder
1 3/4 cups water
Honey or vanilla sugar (optional)
Measure the milk powder accurately and put in a small ziplock freezer bag. Put the culture in a snack-sized sandwich bag and place that in the bag with the milk powder. Be sure to include a copy of the directions below.
Boil 1/4 cup of water and pour it in your thermos to warm the metal. Mix 1 3/4 cup water and milk powder together in a pan. Scald the milk by heating it until the edges start to bubble and it reaches the boiling point. Be careful not to boil though. Remove the milk from the heat and cool until the milk is warmer than body temperature but not overly hot. If the milk is too hot, you will kill the culture; and if it’s too cool, the yogurt will not set.
Discard the now cooled water out of the thermos. Then put the yogurt culture in the thermos and add a little bit of the warm milk. Stir until the powder has dissolved. Then pour the remaining milk into the thermos. Stir well and secure the lid tightly. Put the thermos in a large ziplock bag and then inside a cozy. At bedtime take it into your sleeping bag with you. If you are a restless sleeper wrap the cozy in some clothing and set it beside you where you won’t knock it over. Avoid disturbing it as much as possible; do not shake or stir. By morning, you will have yogurt. If you don’t like unsweetened yogurt, add a little honey or vanilla sugar to it before serving.
You need as much milk powder as you would normally use to make 2 cups of milk even though you will only be making 1 3/4 cups. These extra milk solids make for a richer and better texture.
The yogurt may not incubate if you use old culture. Freeze-dried berries go well with yogurt, and it makes a great topping for a bowl of granola.
From A Fork in the Trail by Laurie Ann March ©2008