Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I made yogurt!!

Yes, I did! It's funny the things the internet teaches us. I would never have guessed you could make yogurt in a crock pot. As you might imagine, a recipe incorporating a crock pot yields a lot of yogurt. Does anyone want some yogurt??



I've fallen in love with Greek-style yogurt this year. Thick, creamy, tangy, delicious Greek yogurt. I get the plain stuff and add granola (recently, I've been adding homemade granola, recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. Ohh, tangy and crunchy and just a tiny bit sweet... And, Mom, if you are reading this, yes, this really is your daughter. I don't know what happened either.



You can adjust the thickness yourself when you make your own yogurt. From what I could surmise, it's more or less how many times you strain it at the end - 1 strain, plain yogurt; 2 strains, Greek yogurt; 3+ strains (I didn't try this, as I already have some from Market Days in the fridge) yogurt cheese. The straining removes the whey. When it's the desired thickness, you can add fruit or sweetener if you must. I've also heard a suggestion to add a drop of vanilla when you serve yourself a cup. I'm going to have to try that.

Slow-Cooker Yogurt
taken from Lady JayPee at Eating, Etc who adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking who learned from someone named Debbie (ah, Internet...)

8c (1/2 gallon) pasteurized milk (NOT ultra-pasteurized)
1c active culture plain yogurt (to use as your starter)

3qt (or larger) crock-pot
large thick beach towel

1) Turn crockpot on low.
2) Add milk; cover & cook on low for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
3) Unplug crock-pot. Keep lid on, and completely wrap crock-pot in large, thick beach towel, for insulation, and let sit for 3-4 hours. [Lady JayPee says 'it seems like it's ready when I dip a spoon in it and the spoon is sort of slightly coated, rather than the milk running right off the spoon like water'. I say I didn't even think to look at the milk, let alone stick a spoon in it, so I don't know whether it's important to test]
4) At the end of 3-4 hours, in a small bowl, whisk 1c active culture plain yogurt with 1-2c of the milk from the crock-pot. Return it to the crock-pot.
5) Keeping crockpot unplugged, completely re-wrap in heavy beach towel.
6) Allow to sit for 8+ hours. For me, it was 10 or 11 hours before I checked it.
7) Yogurt will have thickened. Don't be alarmed when you see a watery looking glob in your crockpot. You're not done yet! You need to separate the watery whey from the actual yogurt. To do this, simply [I say ha! simply! I have 1 wire mesh strainer so no "assembly line", and trying to get yogurt out of a coffee filter but not squeezing the wet part out of the coffee filter is not as straightforward as you might think] ladle yogurt into a basket-shaped paper coffee filter (3-1/4" base) within a fine wire mesh strainer and allow to drain into a bowl. (Lady JayPee set up an "assembly-line" with 4 bowls & 4 strainers to speed up the process.) Let it sit for about 30 minutes or more, so it comes out quite dry.
8) Then run the drained yogurt through the blender to make it creamier. I didn't do this, and it was plenty creamy. Of course, I only let it sit 5 or 10 minutes so it wasn't 'quite dry'.
9) Serve with favorite fresh or dried fruits, honey, or jam/preserves. Or granola.
10) In a non-reactive container (non-metal), set aside 1c as your starter for your next batch.
11) Store in covered container and refrigerate. Will stay fresh for 7-10 days.

Please take heed: This is a good weekend project. It isn't terribly labor-intensive, but I can say from experience that letting this sit overnight on a Sunday is not wise, as the straining part is not the sort of thing you want to do while also preparing your house to be 'show-ready' and taking care of dogs and turtles. I can only imagine how one of those child things might complicate matters.

Probably owing to the extremely brief straining time, mine was still pretty watery, though it did thicken when chilled. I strained it again that evening, this time placing a colander in a big pot and lining it with cheesecloth folded once. This was about a gajillion times easier for me, though I did still have to squeeze yogurt from a goopy cheesecloth.

As noted in the last post, making yogurt is also how I learned that my pups are crazy about yogurt. I gave them each 1/2 of a post-strainer coffee filter. I looked down again and no coffee filters. I also gave them the whey that drained off the yogurt. They're whey fans. I guess I should not be surprised at their love of milk products. I once dropped a half gallon on the floor (anyone surprised?) and the girls cleaned my kitchen faster than I could sponge up the mess.

Tonight, in our continuing quest to clean out our freezer and pantry, I used up some bacon that had been given to Joe at Christmas. Butternut squash & bacon pasta casserole. We had to sample a bit when it came out of the oven at 10:15 tonight. We were happy. We're both eagerly anticipating our Tupperware lunches tomorrow.

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