Sunday, August 02, 2009

Yogurt. God bless it.

A couple of months ago, my mother-in-law gave me an old yogurt maker she had. At that point, I'd been buying Greek yogurt at the store, and it was expensive. But it is so luxurious. Thick, creamy, and perfectly tart. It is wonderful with fruit, granola, name it. It's also good in a wrap with peanut butter and honey. You can use it as a substitute for sour cream. To do that, you just let it drain in a coffee filter for a few hours. If you hang it in cheesecloth and hang it for a few days, it makes a yogurt "cheese" that you can use in dips and even cheesecakes. You can add garlic and herbs and have salad dressing or dip. And, today I'm making my first frozen yogurt.

But I digress from my point.

I started making yogurt with this maker. It's easy, and I save a lot of money. And for breakfast, there is always fresh yogurt, with blueberries or some other fruit. It's perfect for Jon and my skittish tummies.

I'm going to tell you how to make it. And don't don't have to have a maker. Let's talk about that part first. The main goal is to find a spot where you can keep the mixture at about 110°-115° undisturbed for 6-8 hours. Options include:

1: A heating pad. You can put your mixture, covered, in a cooler with a heating pad on top of the mixture.

2: A dehydrator. I doubt you have one...I do, but it is mostly a waste of space. I'm currently trying my first batch in it. Seems simple put the container in the dehydrator on high.

3: A yogurt maker, following their directions.

4: Hot water: You'll need a thermometer. Place the cooler or pot in a place where it will be undisturbed. Place the jar with the yogurt milk in the cooler. Now fill the cooler with water that is 120°. Place a couple of fluffy towels over the cooler or pot.

OK-let's talk about our mixture.

First, take 4 cups of milk. I use whole organic milk. Heat it, boil it about a second, then stir a lot as it cools down. Homemade yogurt will be runnier than you are used to, unless you add 3/4 or so of powdered milk. Aldi's has my favorite, so far. You can skip it, but you will either have runny yogurt, or you can put it in a coffee filter for a few hours to drain and thicken it.

First variation, coming your way...if you're doing plain yogurt, skip this part. If you want sweet yogurt, add about half a cup, maybe a little less, to this hot milk. And some vanilla. Stir it every once and a while, until it hits about 120°.

Now, you're going to add culture. Yogurt is a bunch of live cultures, so you have to have starter, which is just yogurt. Once you've been making it, you just use some from the last batch, but you'll have to buy some to start. I like the Greek versions. Oikos, Chobani and Fage are good. You don't want flavored yogurt, or sweetened...and make sure it says "contains live cultures" on the package.

You're going to mix in 2 big heaping spoonfulls. It is best to take the yogurt, and a little of your milk mixture and put them in a jar and shake shake shake. Add that to your milk mixture and stir. Put it in a jar, or whatever sort of container you're going to incubate.

After that, 6-8 hours in a warm spot. To check and see if the yogurt is done, tip the jar slightly and see if the milk flows or stays put. Remember that the yogurt will thicken even more as it cools in the fridge. If you see clear whey when you tilt the jar, the yogurt is as done as it's going to get. Save some at the end, so you can make your next batch.

I forgot to mention fruit...most people add things like fruit or syrups at the end. I like to put blueberries on the bottom of the cups before I make it. I find it gives the blueberries a really delicious, hard to explain flavor. When you buy fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt at the store, they put a fruit syrup in the cup before they incubated the yogurt.

If you make any, let me know what you think. Any questions? I'll answer them the best I can.

Oh-I also forgot to mention probiotics. Anytime you take antibiotics, you need to take probiotics afterwards. The pills kill all the bacteria...good and bad. There are lots of little tiny guys in our bodies that need to be there...they help us digest, and help our bodies work in lots of ways. But, after your dose, they're all dead. You can go to the Vitamin Shoppe or GNC and get some in pill form, but yogurt is a wonderful natural way to do it. So, after a bout of antibiotics, make you a big batch of yogurt, and eat up. Your body will be happier.


Anonymous said...

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