Friday, April 20, 2012
Homemade Greek Yogurt
Homemade yogurt? Isn't that kind of weird? That's definitely what I thought when my husband started talking about making yogurt. During college one of his roommates introduced him to the method and he loved it, so he thought we should give it a shot. After some googling, I finally agreed to try it if I could make greek yogurt. I enjoy the texture of a nice, thick yogurt so much better. So, I did it! And the results were surprisingly delicious! Generally, I'm not a fan of plain yogurt. It's so sour, and not very pleasant. But homemade yogurt is different. It's smoother and much more mild. The texture was lovely and creamy, and it makes a great addition to smoothies and oatmeal. I've also been using it in place of sour cream, since I have it on hand. You can't even tell the difference. Most importantly, I love the fact that all it costs is the price of a gallon of milk and a little bit of time. Suffice it say, I'm sold on the concept. It's simple, healthy, frugal, and tasty. Those are my buzzwords. :)
I also made yogurt cheese. Let me tell you, that is some good stuff. It's just one extra step in the yogurt making process, and it's so worth it. You simply have to strain the yogurt for an extra day or so, letting much more of the whey drain out. The result is a thick, creamy, spreadable cheese that is sweeter than yogurt and so very rich. And I don't know why, but it seems like the longer it sits in the fridge, the sweeter it gets. We like to eat it on a spoon drizzled with honey. It's makes an excellent dessert. I've also spread it in homemade poptarts and on crepes. Yum, yum, yum.
While dairy isn't specifically targeted as a heart healthy food, poor dental health is thought to be linked to heart disease. The high calcium and phosphorus contents of dairy foods are helpful in the forming of strong bones and teeth. Dairy also has numerous other health benefits, which may have some bearing on heart health. Potassium may help lower blood pressure and stroke risk, riboflavin maintains healthy red blood cells, and vitamin B12 is important for red blood cell production. Probiotics, specifically found in yogurts (although only those with "live and active cultures") are especially beneficial for the immune system.
Source: Fight Back with Food: Use Nutrition to Heal What Ails You, The Reader's Digest Association
Homemade Greek Yogurt
1 Gallon Whole Milk (other fat contents will probably work as well, but I haven't tried them)
4-6 Tbs of yogurt (Really, that's all you need, but this MUST contain "live and active cultures")
Cheesecloth (or thin dishtowel)
Heat the milk (all but a couple Tbs, to use later) over medium heat in a heavy bottomed sauce pan, stirring frequently. Heat until the temperature reads 180 degrees (it will take awhile.) Once this temperature is reached, remove from heat and pour into a glass bowl. Allow to cool, uncovered on the counter top, to 105-110 degrees. While this is cooling, heat your oven to warm. Once the milk is cool, turn the oven off and the oven light on. This will create the perfect temperature for your yogurt to culture in. Mix the 4-6 Tbs of yogurt with the couple of Tbs of cold milk you saved, then add to the warm milk. Now cover your milk with a dishtowel, put it in the warm oven, and let it sit overnight. You can try this after 7-8 hours, but I've had the best results with overnight. In the morning, you should have a nice, thick yogurt! Put it in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours, and then proceed to straining it for greek yogurt.
For regular yogurt- Simply whisk until the yogurt is smooth and refrigerate.
For greek yogurt- Line a wire mesh strainer with cheesecloth or a thin dishtowel and allow the yogurt to drain over a bowl on the counter for several hours (depending on how thick you like it.) Spoon into a bowl and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate.
This was how much whey I got out of one of my small batches...a lot!
For yogurt cheese- Continue straining over a bowl in the refrigerator for an extra day or two until the yogurt is quite thick and retains it's shape (although still very soft.) Press into a container and refrigerate.
I've used this yogurt and cheese up to 2-3 weeks, but just make sure you keep an eye on it. I'm not sure when it will go bad.