Wednesday, April 4

Redneck Yogurt

I'm having a foodie moment. A long one. As in...I still can't believe how good dinner was last night. And this morning, even better.

I haven't bought yogurt in a while. I haven't eaten yogurt in a while. Usually I stock up on it when I find what I like. One that I love is Greek Gods Yogurt. So smooth, so creamy, so perfect in it's sweetness. I had a source for a while where I could get it for $1.00 per 24 oz. tub. But that was short lived. It's usually about $4 per container.  Sad story.

But the other day I had a moment to myself. And another sad story, usually the only moments I have to myself lately are spent grocery shopping. So there I was, at Harmons. No kids. No list. Only a budget. And, having made yogurt in the past, finding myself on the yogurt isle, I felt inspired to try it again.

I bought one gallon of run of the mill, whole milk, one container of my favorite yogurt containing 5 pro-biotic organisms, one pint of cream and then, one half gallon of the very tastiest milk sold in the grocery store in this part of the world: Organic Valley, whole (which has absolutely nothing to do with this post, I just though everyone should know, It's the best, no contest...).

The next morning I woke up, sterilized some jars, probably not as important. Then I poured the gallon of milk and the pint of cream into a stock pot. (not nonstick, little black flakes of chemicals, not so yummy.)  While it was warming on the stove I pulled out the Greek yogurt, washed my camping cooler, and stirred the milk. When the milk/cream mixture was warm, actually just barely hot to the touch I turned off the heat and took pint or so out. I put two healthy dollops of the yogurt into what I had removed and mixed it in. When it was mixed in I poured it into the rest, mixed it all and poured the mixture into my sterilized quart jars with lids (you'll need 5 or 6).  At this point I still had hot water from sterilizing and I added more water until it was cool enough to touch.

I put the jars into the clean cooler, poured the warmish/hottish water over them, closed the lid, rolled the cooler out of the way and forgot about them until this morning (That's one day). Ideally I don't think you should leave it this long. I've heard that the longer you leave it the more acidic it is. Eight hours should be long enough, but comparatively mine was not acidic. But it probably stopped fermenting a few hours ago when the temperature dropped below 90 degrees (Fahrenheit). Also, remember this is a solution of pro-biotics. That means, beneficial organisms are occupying the area and anything else isn't likely to be there. However that's not a guarantee. If you do want to leave it this long and make sure you have a thick, densely inhabited (by pro-biotics) yogurt, pour more hot water in the cooler after a few hours to give them an optimum environment.

This morning for breakfast I mixed it with some frozen berries and agave syrup. And honestly, it's the best yogurt I've ever made.

That is my Redneck way of making yogurt but there are plenty of other methods:

  • Gas stove with pilot light on overnight (easiest if you happen to have a gas stove).
  • In a large pressure cooker filled half way with water and covered in a blanket (this way you can  simply turn the heat on for two minutes to keep optimum growing conditions).
  • In a yogurt maker (for the fancy shmancy)
  • In a slow cooker (I have yet to try this but it seems like it wouldn't make very much).
  • I also theorize that yogurt could be made with little or no electricity at all in the sun in a dark covered container. I'll try it and then I'll tell you about it.

See that separation on top? It's what makes this so good. The Cream.

It should also be noted that from Greek Yogurt does not come Greek Yogurt. But it's not as complicated as you might like to think to make. Just line a strainer with cheese cloth and pour a quart or so in. Let it drain for four hours or so. Most commercially made Greek yogurt still uses pectin  to thicken it. But it's still creamier and thicker than regular yogurt. Also, it doesn't matter if your yogurt is sweetened or not. The sugar doesn't appear to affect the way the yogurt is fermented and since you are using a comparatively small amount it isn't likely to affect the way your yogurt tastes either. The yogurt I used was some variety of honey strawberry but my yogurt did not turn out tasting of either.
Have you made your own yogurt? How did you do it? What's your favorite way to use yogurt?


Evelyn said...

I made Yogurt in my slow cooker. It doesn't make a ton, but it works for us because my kids aren't big yogurt eaters. I want to try agave syrup, but it's so expensive! Where do you get yours?

Andrea K. H. Agüin said...

The best place I've found to get agave is Costco. I find it to be totally worth it for things like yogurt, smoothies, tea, bread. Because It's a liquid and doesn't have a strong taste like honey. I think it's around $8 for two 23 oz. containers.