Friday, August 15, 2014

Yogurt



One of the staples in my little man's diet is yogurt.  He's not a huge fan of drinking milk.  We don't have any dairy allergies and we haven't noticed any negative side effects from having it, so we keep good quality, full fat dairy in the rotation. Also, I like the live cultures and probiotics that come wth the yogurt.

The only issue I've found, is that it's hard to find full fat, grass fed yogurt.  Most of the yogurts out there are made with milk from cows fed GMO corn, are low fat/calories (i.e. packed with chemicals) or are so full of sugar and artificial chemicals, that there is pretty much no nutritional value left.   I used to eat those Pina Colada flavored yogurts all the time, but when I realized that I couldn't pronounce half the ingredients, I cut that out!

So... I took to Pinterest and found a bunch of recipes for homemade yogurt! I was a little intimidated because I thought that you needed to buy a yogurt culture starter or something fancy, but this is super simple and the results are amazing!





All you need is milk and yogurt with live cultures already in it.  You can buy any yogurt with live cultures.  I've heard that you need plain yogurt with no flavors added.  I always try to save some of my own yogurt to use for the next batch.  It's sorta like that Amish friendship bread where you save a little bit and it's used pretty much forever. 


So first, I poured all of the milk into my crockpot and turned it on high.


Then I put the lid on and let it sit for a while.  The temperature needs to come up to 180, but not boiling.

Once it gets to 180, then you turn the crockpot off and let the milk go back down to 120.  If you have time, you can just let it sit and wait.  If it gets late (because I never remember to make it until later at night), you can take the "pot" out of the heating element of the crockpot.  That should help it cool down more. 


Once the milk came down to 120, I mixed in my "starter" yogurt.  I just dumped it in and mixed it around with a fork to get it all broken up and let the cultures spread out.

Then, I took the pot part out of the crockpot, wrapped it in a blanket, and set it on the counter for 24 hours.  Usually, I just put the whole thing in the oven (which is cold and turned off), but this time, I was using the oven, so I needed to improvise.  

This part kinda freaked me out a bit at the beginning... I thought that yogurt was supposed to be cold at all times.  Apparently, though, you want to create a warm environment for all the little cultures to grow and multiply.

After 24 hours, you take the lid off and stir everything up and voila! you have yogurt!  It's not your standard thick yogurt... it's kinda thin and clumpy.  It's kindalike the drinkable yogurt stuff.


If you'd like, you can add in some flavors or sweeteners or whatever you think.  I usually like my yogurt thicker, so I drain it which makes it thicker.


Basically, I get a big bowl and put a colander on top of it.  Then, I line the colander with paper towels and pour the yogurt mixture into the colander.  Then, I just put the whole thing in the fridge for a few hours (or a day, depending on how thick you want it).



I had trouble taking a good picture, but here's what it looks like once it's drained.


In the bowl under the colander, you'll see all the leftover whey that drains out.  Some people swear by it... apparently, you can drink it or add it to smoothies or do all sorts of things with it. 


So what you have left is this delicious, thick yogurt!  Now, you can add flavoring or keep it and use it as a substitute for mayo or sour cream.  I sometimes chop up fresh herbs and mix it with some other savory flavorings and use it as a veggie dip.


Most of the time, though, this little cutie prefers a fruity yogurt.  I'll mix in some homemade jam or maple syrup and vanilla.  If I don't have any available, I'm always a fan of some vanilla extract, almond extract, and a little bit of sugar. 


Chase definitely approves!  His favorite flavor, as of recently, has been yogurt mixed with some almond butter and maple syrup (pictured below).




Homemade yogurt

Ingredients
·       ½ gallon of whole milk (preferably grass fed and organic)
·       1 cup of a yogurt starter (any plain yogurt that has live cultures should work)

Instructions
1.    Pour milk into a crockpot and turn on high.
2.    Wait for the milk to come to 180 degrees.
3.    Turn off crockpot and let milk come to 120 degrees. You can speed up the cool down process by taking the bowl out of the crockpot.
4.    Once the milk has cooled to 120, add in the yogurt starter and mix throughout the milk.
5.    “Incubate” the mixture either by wrapping the whole thing in a blanket or putting it in the oven (turned off and cold).
6.    Let the mixture sit for 12-24 hours to let the cultures multiply.
7.    If desired, drain the yogurt to make it thicker.







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