DIY – Butter, Yogurt, Kefir, Oh My!

While its certainly sometimes easier to stop by the grocery store when you’re out of key household ingredients, it is often healthier – and sometimes even less time-consuming – to make your own at home.

The following are some Mark’s Daily Apple approved recipes for everyday items:

Homemade Butter:

Not that there’s really anything inherently wrong with the butter you might find on your grocers shelves, but sometimes homemade just tastes better.

2 cups of heavy whipping cream or double cream*
1 cup of ice cold water

*when shopping for the cream, its best to opt for those varieties without carrageen or other stabilizers. Also, where possible, select “vat pasteurized cream” as opposed to ultra heat treated (UHT) or HTST pasteurized varieties. Also, where possible, start with cream that is at a temperature of about 60 degrees.

Dig out your food processor and select either the plastic blade or regular chopping blade. Fill food processor about ½ full with cream and blend at medium speed. As you blend, you will notice that the cream transitions from sloshy to frothy to whipped cream to a very stiff whipped cream. Keep blending until the mixture “seizes” and the whirring you previously enjoyed will now go back to sloshing. DO NOT PANIC – this is just a sign of the butter (the yellow bit that surfaces) is separating from the buttermilk (the rest of the fluid). Drain out the buttermilk, then add some of the ice cold water, blend further, and discard the excess. Repeat until the water comes away clear (a process known as washing the butter). Place butter in a large jar and shake to remove any excess water. Store in ramekin, butter dish or in rolls of wax paper. Should yield approximately one cup of butter.


Ahh yogurt…something so simple yet so delicious. Until the manufacturers got hold of it and started adding all kinds of additives and heck, even throwing fruit on the bottom! Here’s a recipe for a yogurt you can be proud of!

1 quart of milk
Starter Culture

A starter culture is basically any compound that already has live active cultures in it. You can purchase dry cultures at your local health store, but they do tend to be on the expensive side. A cheaper – and easier – alternative is to simply obtain a starter culture from plain yogurt purchased at a grocery store. However, when doing this, be sure to select a brand of plain yogurt that clearly indicates on its label that it contains live active cultures or else this will not work. To maintain the culture, store the yogurt – about ¼ cup is all you need for this recipe – in an airtight container in your fridge.

To make, pour the milk into a small sauce pan and, using a cooking thermometer, heat the mixture of 180 degrees F. Then let cool to 105 degrees. Stir in the yogurt and pour into a glass jar. Cap the jar and place in a pan of 105 -112 degree water. Allow the yogurt to “incubate” for between 5 – 6 hours, adding hot water every now and again so as to maintain a consistent water temperature. Once the yogurt is able to retain the impression of a spoon pressed into its surface, remove from the heat and store in a refrigerator for up to 1 week. If it doesn’t thicken up, it may be due to too many heat fluctuations, but don’t panic, it can still be saved! Try adding just half a teaspoon of unflavored gelatin disolved in a small amount of water. If plain yogurt isn’t your thing, consider adding these healthy – and sugar free – flavorings: Vanilla extract, almond extract, or coffee flavoring.


Gaining in popularity here in the U.S., kefir is a fermented type of milk that resembles the consistency of grocery store yogurt drinks.

1 tbsp kefir grains
1 quart whole or 2% milk (organic, non-pasteurized is preferable for this recipe)

Put kefir in a glass jar and fill almost full with the whole . Cover with a clean cloth and set aside on your kitchen counter. Wait 1 to 2 days, stirring periodically with a PLASTIC spoon (this is particularly important since metal appears to damage the cultures). When thick, strain out the kefir grains with a plastic strainer (being careful to keep the grains intact), pour back into a clean jar and repeat. Next time you wish to make kefir, you can use these same grains as they will continue to remain active – just pour them into a glass jar, cover with water, seal and refrigerate.


Although there’s a lot of steps in this recipe, it really is quite easy. Trust us, you’ll never need to buy pre-made tempeh again!

2.5 pounds of dry soybeans
4 tbsp vinegar
2 tsp tempeh starter (available online or at your local health food store)

First boil the soybeans for about an hour. Next, drain and rinse the cooked beans and run them through the food processor (with slicing attachment) to remove the outer skin and split the beans. Then, fill the bowl containing the beans with water and pour off the water with some hulls through a sieve – repeat until you have removed most of the hulls. Next, pour the beans onto a couple of kitchen towels and rub them dry to remove excess water (which will spoil the batch!). Put the beans back into the mixing bowl, add the vinegar and starter, mix thoroughly and then divide mixture and half fill sandwich bags that have been pierced with a sewing needle. Holes should be about ½ an inch apart. Place on a towel and put in an incubator (a warm room or small enclosure where the temperature can be adjusted to between 86 – 90 degrees F. Check every half hour or so to keep the temperature consistent and make adjustments as necessary. After about 15-16 hours you will begin to see condensation on the bags and the bags will also begin generating their own heat (adjust temperature accordingly to remain consistent) At 21-22 hours you will begin to see the white mycelium, followed by grey spores at about 24-26 hours. At this point, they are done and can be lifted out of the bag as a whole piece. You can either eat them fresh, refrigerate it for up to 5 days or freeze it for future use.

Ricecake, roboppy, David Niergarth, mariaboismain Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

Alternatives to Canned Soup

Homemade Condiment Creations

Choose Your Own Salad Adventure

That’s Fit: Tempeh vs. Tofu – A Soy Slamdown

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