Monday, April 26, 2010

When life gives you milk, make yogurt

Today marks my second attempt at making yogurt. Both times have resulted from having an abundance of whole milk because my son became ill and didn't drink it for two weeks. I can't stand to waste food. Sometimes, in these situations, I let it turn to buttermilk and make loads of pancakes or scones, but with all the fresh strawberries out there right now I couldn't pass up the opportunity to have fresh plain yogurt and strawberries drizzled with honey at a fraction of the cost.

The first time I used this recipe and made yogurt entirely in the crockpot and it wasn't really suitable for eating. Sure, it was great for using in recipes but it's thin, runny consistency and lack of "tanginess" wasn't all that appetizing. I think this was mostly due to not keeping the crockpot warm enough. This time around I was hoping for something closer to Fage Greek yogurt, or atleast Yoplait custard-style, so I tweaked the directions a little.

  1. First, I pre-heated the crockpot while I combined a half gallon of milk and 2/3 cup of nonfat dry milk in a saucepan and heated until almost boiling, about 200 degrees.
  2. Second, I turned off the crockpot and wrapped it in a fleece blanket while I let the milk mixture cool to 110 degrees. I then scooped out 1/2 cup of the milk mixture and added it to a 1/2 cup of Fage yogurt. After gently mixing, I added it back to the milk and transferred to the already warmed crock pot and rewrapped it in a blanket.
  3. Finally, I waited. And waited.... and, well, I'm still waiting. Periodically I check the temp to make sure it is still around 110 degrees, but I am doing my best to leave the yogurt undisturbed so those little bacteria can multiply.
So I'll update you tomorrow with the results.

But in the meantime, I'm hopeful this turns out well because some one in the house has been sick every day for the last month - and yogurt is fantastic at supporting a healthy immune system. Unfortunately I can't afford to buy the yogurt I really like (Fage 0%) all the time, and now there are few other yogurts that will suffice. It's also a great source of protein and calcium, and easier on the stomach than milk. Even those who are lactose-intolerant can enjoy yogurt because the live culture actually aids in digesting lactose.

One sweet way to use plain yogurt is this quick and easy dessert that tastes like ice cream without the guilt if you use nonfat yogurt. This is a recipe I stole from the Sneaky Chef (yes, a cookbook for kids) and have subsequently used as a base to create my own flavors by adding frozen berries or other fruit, or flavors like espresso or Kahlua. But you can't go wrong with the following (IMHO)!

Choco-banana Frozen Yogurt
  1. Stick a ripe banana in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
  2. In a blender or food processor, add banana, 1/2 t cocoa powder, 2-3 T yogurt and 1 T sugar.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. It will be soft - if you like your frozen yogurt a little firmer, put it in the freezer for 20 minutes.
This morning I awoke to a creamy yogurt that has just the right amount of tang! Good stuff. Now, my next step is getting it to the consistency of Greek yogurt by straining it through a dishtowel-lined strainer. You can use a coffee filter for this process however I don't have any so I improvised. Regardless, this is a yogurt I can eat as is without this step but, hey, why not experiment?

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