Friday, January 23, 2015

{Makes} Yogurt

Makes? Cooks? I'm not really even sure if this qualifies as making or cooking. 
But I'm not sure what else to label it!


Yogurt, it's a funny thing in the All Things Fee household. We either love it or hate it. We are kind of picky about it. I've always been a fruit at the bottom fan (but rarely bought it), I think because its not as thin as the mixed stuff. Then I made the mistake of getting my husband hooked on greek fruit at the bottom. Boy can it be pricey! He would take one a day to work, and then the kids would want some, and I'd be guarding the ones for him each week! We even tried buying regular yogurt for the kids (they weren't finishing a cup, and refused to share) and greek for my husband and they would still take his!

I had mentioned a couple times that I wanted to try to make my own, but never got around to trying it out. But then Santa Nana {my mom} gave me a yogurt maker for Christmas! While it isn't necessary to have a yogurt maker, it made it easier (no checking on it, until 8 hrs later) especially for the first try. It took a lot of second guessing away.

Now, that I've made it quite a few times I am finding what flavors we like, and how many batches to make (my maker only makes 2 qts at a time), and how easy it really is.

If your thinking about making yogurt, it really is simple.
Plus, if you think you don't have time to make yogurt, think again!
Your busy for the first 15minutes or so, then you wait 8 hours, move it to the fridge, wait 8 more hours, then wait a couple more hours (if you strain it) then divide into containers. 
So it's maybe 30 minutes of "work" the rest is wait time.

To make your own you will need:
Milk (My yogurt maker only holds 2 qts, so that's how much milk I start with.)
Yogurt "starter" (Just live culture yogurt from the store, or from a previous batch (thats what I used)
A pot (big enough to warm your milk in)
Thermometer (Key temps 115' and 185')
Yogurt maker (other options later in post)
Cheesecloth, Strainer (if you like your yogurt thick)
Containers to store in

Let's get yogurt making!
Heat milk to 180' your not looking to boil it, just warm it up. 
Also I stir it a lot, I don't want any burning to the bottom of the pan.
 Cool to 115', I fill my sink with cold water, and put the pan in the sink full of water.
Add a bit of live culture yogurt. I like to scoop a couple ladle-fulls of warm milk into the yogurt to incorporate. Then I mix it into the rest.
(I've seen the amount of yogurt vary greatly, a couple tbspns to a cup, 
so I am still working on what works best for me, so far I think 1/2 to 3/4 cup may be the winner.)
   Then keep warm for 8 hours.
This is where I used the yogurt maker, But I've seen recipes/tutorials use a crock pot, your oven (off with light on) or cooler full of warm water. This is the "trickiest" part from what I've read. 

After 8 hours, put in the fridge ( I do overnight), and decide if it is thick enough to your liking.
Like I said, we like it thick like greek yogurt, so I strain some of the whey off.

Now, the straining process is simple, the timing of it depends on how thick you want your yogurt. 
My yogurt machine came with a straining bag. It looks and feels like a light canvas material, or even a muslin material. It has to pull strings to close if you want. Personally, I put the bag inside out,so the seams and strings are on the outside and not inside with the yogurt. Then I just set it in my strainer, and the strainer in a my giant pot (so that strainer handles balance on the rim, and the whey falls away from the bag). You want the whey to fall away from the yogurt, not sitting in it.

I haven't timed my yogurt straining. I just put the pot in the fridge, and check on it with a spoon. Once it is thick enough I lift the bag and squeeze it once or twice.

This is the whey. It's a thick liquid that I've read is wonderful for you. I haven't tried to do anything with it (some drink it straight, some bake with it), except give to our Golden Retriever. He LOVES it. I just pour it over his dry food and he goes to town.  He had some "doggy dandruff" going on, and I've noticed a big difference in his coat and he is less "flaky"!

Once your done straining your yogurt, divide into individual containers if you plan on packing in lunches, or put in a large container, add toppings of your choice! Also, save some plain if you plan on making again! You can use a bit from this batch to start your next! But I have noticed after 2-3 batches I need a new starter. I found it didn't seem to smell as fresh once we were a couple batches away from the original. 

So far, my husband likes cherry pie filling and blueberry as a topping.
Hopefully this summer our *new* cherry trees produce, so I can stop buying store bought. 
I bought the cherry pie filling, but for the blueberry I cooked down blueberries in simple syrup.
Personally, I am a peach fan, so I am anxiously awaiting my peach trees this summer!

Other perks of making your own yogurt?
 You can strain it until it's a solid and use like a cream cheese!
Use as sour cream! I can't tell you how many times I've bought the smallest container of sour cream and had it go bad because we don't use much! I've used it to make french onion dip, and no one was the wiser!
Whey! Cooper (our golden) loves it, but I am tempted to substitute it for water in baking recipes.

The first time I made yogurt, I felt I was crazy.
 But seeing the difference in price, and quality made it worth it!

What have you made that you swear you'll never buy in store again?
Me? Pickles and now yogurt!

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