Hye Thyme Cafe: Homemade Madzoon (Yogurt)

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Homemade Madzoon (Yogurt)

Madzoon / Yogurt : Hye Thyme Cafe

OK Grammy, I get it now! My maternal grandmother is floating around out there (up there?) somewhere smiling about this one. Yogurt may not have originated in Armenia, but you'd be hard pressed to find an Armenian household without some in the fridge. We make soups with it, dips, beverages, serve it over various items, etc. Usually, we serve up a bowl with a little honey (or jam) and some crumbled Cracker Bread. I don't have any Cracker Bread at the moment, so me thinks I need to place an order. It took me 44 years, but I finally made it myself ... and it was soooooo easy! It's actually cheaper than buying it too, and there is no question that it's better for you! I was shocked to read some labels a while back and realize how much high fructose corn syrup is in some yogurts. You think you're picking a healthy low-fat snack only to be counteracting that with too much sweetener.

After looking through a bunch of recipes - some calling for sugar, others not, some using powdered milk for stability, some using yogurt starters versus starting with another yogurt, various methods, different amounts, etc., I pulled together what sounded logical to me to come up with this recipe. I decided to use the Agave Nectar to add a little sweetness, just because I bought it a while back and hadn't tried it in anything yet. Because we like the yogurt so much as it is, I'll stick with it in the future. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!  

1/2 gallon whole milk  (8c)
1/2 c powdered milk
Single serving of plain yogurt (w/active live cultures)
1 T Agave Nectar
2 t vanilla

Stir the powdered milk into the milk to dissolve.

Over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, cook the milk until bubbles form and it threatens to spill over. This should take 15-20".

Pull the pot off the burner and turn off the heat. Return the pot to the burner, and if it threatens to bubble over again, remove it for a few seconds and then put it back again. As soon as you can leave the pot on the burner without it rising, go ahead and leave it there for 2-3 hours. This is the equivalent of clarifying butter - you let it foam, then cool and skim the top off. Ewww, looks like I caught someone trying to sample before it was finished! Good thing the cover was on the pool ... scooped out the hitchhiker with that top layer.

In a bowl big enough to hold your finished yogurt, stir together your starter yogurt, vanilla and Agave Nectar. If you're looking for a plain yogurt, this amount of vanilla or a little less works to curb that tartness of plain yogurt. If you're specifically looking for vanilla yogurt, add more. Turn the burner back to medium to heat the original mixture again. When it gets to the point where you can hold your little finger in it to a count of 8-10 before the heat gets to be too much, that's perfect. Any hotter or cooler and it won't set right ... or so I've read. Pour a little of the hot mixture over the starter and stir together to temper the starter, then pour in the rest. If your bowl has a cover, put it on; otherwise, top it with a plate or something, then wrap a big towel around the whole thing and stick it someplace warm for about 10 hours in "incubate." I turned the light on in my oven and stuck it in there overnight.



After 10 hours, unwrap your bowl and pour off whatever liquid has accumulated on the top. I was actually expecting more than what there was. Not sure why, but I was. The divot on the edge of mine and the funky half moon in the middle was because the cover tipped into it when I pulled it off and it scooped that bit out of the edge. I was very excited to try it at this point. It LOOKED like yogurt, and it SMELLED like yogurt, so I was very hopeful, but still needed to let it chill. Dang! :(

OK, everyone grab a spoon and cross your fingers ... YAY!!!!!!! We just kept nodding with smiles and raised eyebrows with every spoonful. Spot on! Definitely need to order some cracker bread!  ;)

Madzoon / Yogurt : Hye Thyme Cafe

NOTE:  I have since updated my yogurt method - see new post here.


  1. What would the fridge life be on your yogurt?

  2. I was actually wondering about that myself, because one of the recipes I looked at mentioned that their family has been using the same strain of yogurt since the 1940s! As much as I love yogurt, I would either have to have a big family or eat it by the gallon to reproduce it often enough for that to be the case!

    The opinions on this seem to vary widely, from 3-21 days. The bottom line is that it will start to become a bit tart/sour as it ages. At that point, it's really a matter of personal taste. Once it gets to where it reminds you of a kid who has been in the ocean too long and their lips are starting to turn blue ... throw it out! I think I'll fall somewhere in between - by the time I get to the bottom, it will be a little tart ... but nowhere close to blue! :)

    Wish I could be more specific for you, but I'm sure it won't be in my fridge long enough for me to test it. Actually, I suppose I can sacrifice some (sniffle, sniffle, sob) and set a small portion aside to see what happens. Check back later. I'll post an update when it goes bad. :)

  3. That's hilarious! We both came up with practically the same recipe, and our reaction to testing it was pretty much the same as well. :) Looking at it, sniffing it, poking it with the spoon...Looks like yogurt, smells like yogurt...hmm... Nice to know that it works in the oven as well, I wasn't sure that would stay warm enough. Thanks!

  4. It did, and I was really surprised by that since the recipe I (sort of) followed said to leave it alone for 10 hours. I did the first step late at night, heated it the second time, then stuck it in the oven and went to bed!

  5. Hi,
    Enjoyed the time spent reading your blog.

  6. hi

    in india most household make curd almost everyday we call it DAHI. We eat it by adding sugar or we add onion tomato cucumber salt n its yum. We use it in cooking also.
    Its damn simple to make.
    If you live in a warm region then heat 1/2 Kg(1/2 liter) milk to the point where you can put your finger in it it feels warm n bearable. then pour into container with lid and add one spoon curd(store bought or borrow some from a neighbor) then cover with lid. leave on room temperature n it will set in 3 hrs. In india we put it to set in preferably an earthen pot or in a steel vessel. you can cover with plain cloth also.
    In case u live in a cold region heat the milk more till its hot to touch then add curd mix well . Cover the container with a blanket or in my case i wrap it in an old cardigan of my son n keep it in draft free place. It should set in about 3-4 hrs. Can put in fridge to set more. Store in fridge once set. if curd leaves lots of water it means the milk was more warm than required so next time try little less warm milk. you can add flavors as per taste.
    Don't need to keep for 10 hrs it easily sets in 3-4 hrs. the longer you keep it fr setting more sour it will get. store in fridge will keep good fr 2-3 days n then will start getting sour. Each time you need curd u can use curd you save from the previous time as culture. in case it is sour try straining it with cheesecloth or any thin cloth n then use the creamy mixture for setting curd.
    I hope this helps.

  7. Thanks for the tips Shivani. I did notice that one time, there was more whey than the other, so your point about the temperature probably explains that. I have read that the amount of time you let it sit affects the texture, and because we loved it so much the first time, I have been afraid to change it, but since I let it set for 10 hrs and you only do it for 3-4, I'll definitely try splitting the difference the next time and let it set for 5-6 hours and see how much of a difference it makes. Thanks so much. I was planning to make it today as a matter of fact, so good timing! :)

  8. To get back to the comment from Coupons for Medifast - asking about the shelf life - I had wrestled away from the vultures a tiny sample to test, but when I made my Lemon-Thyme Cake the other night, I ran out of yogurt and had to dip into my sample. Soooo, the answer so far is at least two weeks. It was getting a little tangy, but still perfectly edible, and NO SIGN of the bluish tint I read to look for. I'm planning to make another batch today or tomorrow, so I'll start my test over again and update later.

  9. Someone asked the same question I was going to ask - about how long it would last. That is a GIGANTIC bowl of yogurt. I know some recipes are fussy when you cut in in half or thirds, have you tried that?

    1. Nope, never cut it in half. What doesn't get eaten straight out of a bowl goes in baked goods, smoothies, marinades, etc., so the volume has never been a problem, and I don't think I ever did end up having any around long enough to come up with a true expiration date. I can't imagine cutting it in half being a problem at all.

  10. Wow, Chris, I never thought of trying to make yogurt. You do have one of my favorite ingredients in yours-the vanilla. Stopping by via TALU.

    1. It's definitely worth the effort on all fronts - flavor, texture, and price! I keep meaning to try a chocolate version swapping out the powdered milk for Nesquick to see what happens.


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