Thursday, February 11, 2010

Just Yogurt

My newest obsession is the book, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. If you haven't had the opportunity to read this book, you are missing out on a good read.

The gist of the book is this; we consume far too many processed foods and foods that have traveled more than we will, ever, in our entire lifetimes. It's not only about learning to eat locally, but also to eat foods that are in season. This is why tomatoes in January look nothing like tomatoes in August! It is the story of Ms. Kingsolver's family's journey toward better health, nutrition and knowledge. Knowing where our food comes from is a big step toward healthier eating.

Recognizing the words on the labels is the second step.

I suggest purchasing a very large dictionary.

There are other books that are on my "to-do" list of must reads. These include "The Omnivore's Dilemma", and "Food, Inc. by Michael Pollan, and "Everything I Want to Do is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front" by Joel Salatin. I plan to be reading for awhile.

While roaming the aisles of one of our local grocery stores, looking for some good deals, I found a sign "10 for $10" in the yogurt section. Since the shelves were pretty bare, I realized that a lot of people were fooled into buying these "great deals". For $1.00, you too can eat 6 oz. of high fructose corn syrup, modified food starch and some natural & artificial flavoring. It's your decision as to which artificial flavoring you choose though.

That's very kind of the yogurt manufacturer, don't you think?

Making homemade yogurt is very easy. It requires an incubator, milk, yogurt culture, and a thermometer. (If you purchase an incubator from the link, it comes with the thermometer!) I have 2 different incubators, one does 7 individual servings, the other does 2 quarts of yogurt. I'll show you how to use the latter.

First, gather your ingredients. You need 2 quarts whole, pasteurized milk (not ultra-pasteurized, very important!), a yogurt culture (I use Yogourmet that I found in the health food store.), a thermometer, and a pot and wire whisk.

Into a medium sized saucepan, pour 2 quarts of whole milk. On medium heat, bring the temperature up to 180F. Use the whisk every so often to distribute the heat. When the temperature is reached, remove pan from heat. Let the milk cool down to about 112F, give or take a degree. To cool faster, set pan in larger pan of ice water.

Pour 10 grams of yogurt starter into a cup.

When the milk has cooled to the right temperature, add 5 or 6 Tablespoons of it to the culture.

Pour the cultured milk back into the saucepan with the remaining milk and stir it in well.

Pour the milk into the batch tub.

Add about 12 ounces of lukewarm water to the incubator base. There are 2 lines in the bottom. One is for a half-batch, the other for a full batch.

Set the covered batch tub into the incubator base and plug it in.

Put the lid on the base and be patient.

Clean something. Watch a movie. Read a blog. But DO NOT OPEN THE INCUBATOR FOR AT LEAST 4 HOURS!!!!

Nothing bad will happen, but patience is a virtue. And we all want to virtuous. Right? Right? *Tap*Tap* Hey is this thing on?

The yogurt should be done after about 4 hours, but check the consistency and see if you like it. If it's too thin, let it incubate a little longer. To stop the incubating process, remove the batch jar from the base and place in the refrigerator until cool; about 8 hours.

Then doll up your creation yourself! Since there is no sweetener in it yet, you can add honey, maple syrup, sugar or my personal favorite, liquid vanilla stevia. I wouldn't go crazy and doctor the whole batch with sweetener though, just do it as you serve it. That way you're not committed. And don't forget the fruit! Fresh, frozen,'s all good.

When your yogurt is in the serving dish, it's hard to tell homemade from store-bought.

*A friend of mine incubates her yogurt in a beverage cooler. You know, the kind you take camping? Anyway, she pours her yogurt into a large glass jar, wraps it in a towel and sets it into the cooler. Then she puts a heating pad on the lowest setting, inside the cooler and closes the lid. She then puts a blanket on top of the cooler and lets it set overnight. In the morning, she has yogurt! For peace of mind, the first time I would suggest starting this in the morning so it will be done by bedtime.

1 comment:

Mountain Home Quilts said...

I have The Omnivore's Dilemma and I've watched the movie Food Inc. Both good- both highly recomended!
I need to make our own yogurt! We buy organic whole milk yogurt currently but homemade must be better- it always it!
I'm a huge RAW milk fan though so I'd probably use that. And since I don't have a yogurt maker the heating pad will have to do! :)
Thanks for sharing!