Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summer Photo Blog and a Recipe

Helping Daddy get ready in the morning!

Honeymoon Island -- Fourth of July

Napping on the way home

A fun Fourth of July at the Olds' Home

Beautiful Fourth of July Spread

With Jason, 4, and Ashley, 7

Loves his afternoon bowl of yogurt

I like to make yogurt for Logan and me at home because its affordable and easy once you get the hang of it. It does not have the thickeners and flavorings that store-bought yogurt has. It may seem high-maintenance at first, but once you get the hang of it its as easy as putting a chicken in the crockpot.

Affordability: Yields one gallon organic plain yogurt. One gallon organic milk = $5.99; one cup Fage yogurt = $1.29. Total: $7.28/ 16 cups per gallon = $0.46 per 8 oz serving. Pennies for your favorite sweetener/flavor means about fifty cents for a cup of organic yogurt-- you won't find that pricing anywhere! :)

Homemade Yogurt Recipe

1 gallon full-fat milk
1 cup plain, store-bought yogurt (Fage brand has worked best for me)

Supplies needed:
Large stock pot
Fine-mesh strainer
Instant read thermometer
Large bedspread or a beach blanket

1. Heat entire gallon of milk on low in large stockpot until instant read thermometer reads 180 degrees F.
2. Remove from heat; uncover and allow to cool until instant read thermometer reads 110 degrees F.
3. Use a ladle to remove 2-3 cups of milk from stock pot; ladle into a medium bowl.
4. Add cup of store-bought yogurt to the medium bowl and gently mix. Add back into stockpot and gently mix. You should see large lumps of yogurt among the warm milk.
5. Re-test your temperature to ensure your milk did not fall below 100 degrees F in the course of adding the cold store bought yogurt. For the next 6-24 hours (see note) your stockpot of yogurt must remain between 100 and 110 degrees. To do this, wrap the entire stockpot in the blanket and tuck in all ends. Periodically throughout the day, unwrap your stockpot and test your concoction to make sure the temp is between 100 and 110 degrees. If needed, place the stock pot on low heat for 5-10 minutes to bring the fermenting yogurt back to the necessary 100-110 degree window.
6. At the end of the fermentation period, you should have a bottom layer of thick white yogurt, and a top layer of translucent, yellowish liquid (this is the whey). Skim off your whey and save for another purpose (see note). Ladle your yogurt into a bowl and refrigerate. Yogurt is best eaten after a night of refrigeration because it becomes firmer and creamier after being thoroughly chilled.

Serving suggestions: mix in honey or maple syrup to sweeten. Also add a splash of vanilla extract or some other type of extract for flavor. Add granola, fruit or anything else your normally eat with your yogurt.

Notes and Suggestions:

One gallon of milk yields one gallon of yogurt; one half gallon of milk yields one half gallon of yogurt; a quart yields a quart, etc.

Heating the milk in the first step on too high of heat will scald the milk.  Cooling it with no lid (the fastest way to cool it) will result in a skin forming on top of the milk. Both these result in unappetizing skins and fibers floating in your finished batch of yogurt. To prevent this, skim the "skin" off the top of your milk after Step 2. If you suspect you may have scalded some of the milk, strain the entire gallon after Step 2 in the fine-mesh strainer.

The 6-24 hour fermentation process (described in Step 5) will get easier in subsequent batches. You will get the hang of knowing about when you need to re-heat your yogurt on low for 5 minutes to bring it back to the fermentation temperature. Your fermentation time will depend on your taste and schedule; the longer you leave it to ferment the tangier and thicker it will be. I have left it for as short as 6 hours and its fine; I have never actually left it for 24 hours because we are always too eager to eat the yogurt.

Overnight fermentation: start your yogurt at around 4-5 pm, before you cook dinner. Keep an eye on it throughout the evening. Right before bed, put it on low one last time for 5-10 minutes, and then immediately remove it from heat and wrap it in the bed spread or beach blanket. Leave on kitchen counter while you sleep. When you wake up, your yogurt will be fully fermented and ready to refrigerate.

Greek Yogurt: One last step if you want Greek-strained yogurt so thick and white and tangy that you can turn the whole bowl over and it will not drip out! No kidding! After you have removed the yogurt from the stock pot and are ready to begin the chilling process, line a colander with cheesecloth  and add about 2-3 cups of your yogurt. Place in a larger bowl to catch the whey. Allow to strain in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. Scoop into a new container, empty the whey, and add another 2-3 cups of yogurt to your cheesecloth-lined colander.

What to do with the whey: This is a nutritious, protein-rich liquid that can be added to smoothies or stirred into oatmeal to boost nutrition for kids. Also, substitute whey 1:1 for water in bread recipes or pizza dough recipes; I substitute whey for up to half the recipe's water. Adding whey is like using buttermilk instead of regular milk-- it makes breads and doughs tangy and moist. One caveat: I have never used whey to proof yeast; I would therefore use plain water to proof the yeast and substitute whey for the remaining water.

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