Wednesday food post (Yogurt)

Okay, so I was going to do a week in food, but I got sick and lost all my energy. We also got treated to dinner a few times, plus ate too big and too late a lunch on one of the days (resulting in eating potato wedges with ketchup for dinner at 9pm), and the menu plan just generally went out the window. But, I like to be flexible. So, I’ll talk a little about one of my newest endeavors- yogurt.

I’m totally new to this, but it’s so easy and so good I don’t see ever buying yogurt again. There are a variety of ways to make yogurt. I’ve seen recipes that involve candy thermometers, gelatin, powdered milk, double boilers, etc. These recipes definitely intimidated me, and I don’t like all the extra ingredients and fuss. Then there’s the yogurt maker (where you just add starter and milk), but I don’t have one… and I didn’t see myself buying one soon either. Now that I make most of my own food in a kitchen with very limited room, an appliance that only makes one thing just kind of takes up space, in my opinion. Although, I can’t get rid of my ice cream maker (that appliance is just too important!). Anyway, then I saw this recipe for making yogurt in your crock pot. I tried it, and totally succeeded! So far it’s been totally easy and delicious. The texture of the yogurt is a little thinner, but not by much. We eat it almost daily, and have found I can do this once a week for a steady supply of yogurt for all of us. Here’s the recipe for those who don’t want to follow the link (just copied straight from Nourishing Days):

Crock Pot Yogurt
Recipe notes: This recipe uses a 2 quart crock. In using a 4 or 4 1/2 quart crock I found the yogurt to have a bit of a "springy" texture. I was able to alleviate this by heating the milk an additional 15 minutes for a total of 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Turn your crock pot to low and pour in 1/2 gallon of milk.
Heat on low for 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Once 2 hours and 30 minutes have elapsed turn your crock pot off and unplug it. Let the milk cool in the crock with the lid on for 3 hours.
After 3 hours remove 1-2 cups of the warmed milk and place in a bowl. To that add 1/2 cup of yogurt with live active cultures and mix very well.
Pour the yogurt-milk mixture back into the milk and whisk thoroughly.
Place the cover back on the crock and wrap the entire crock pot in a thick bath towel or two.
Let it culture overnight, 8-12 hours.
In the morning stir yogurt (if desired) and store in glass quart jars or a container of your choice.
For optimum texture, refrigerate for at least 8 hours before using.

Here’s my most recent batch (which firmed up even more in the fridge):

 

Voila! Fresh, homemade, living yogurt that barely took any work at all. It occurs to me that so many of the things that I’ve resolved to do myself don’t take nearly the energy that I thought they did at the beginning. They take a little more planning and preparation, but I’ve found that any extra work involved is pretty balanced by my now incredibly short and easy grocery trips. Plus, it’s so gratifying. Each time I take on something new I’m rewarded and feel that much more connected to my food. 

I use this yogurt for all sorts of things. We add it to oatmeal, we eat it plain or with applesauce or fruit. We use it as a topping for savory dishes like potatoes or any soup. I love it on pancakes. We blend it up with maple syrup and some fruit frozen from the summer for smoothies. We can make it into a savory veggie dip, or add honey to it to make a sweet dip for fruit. The possibilities!

*Side note- I did mess up one batch recently. I think it’s because I only wrapped the crock in one thin towel, so I think it really needs the extra insulation overnight. It was pretty thin in the morning. The next batch I tried I put this big wool sweater over the whole thing and wrapped it in a bath towel, and it was perfect the next morning. 

*Also- my sister tried this with 2% milk once, and found that it was… gross. The texture was, as she says "mucousy", rather than "yogurty". I only use whole milk for everything, and it’s my belief that we should not be afraid of fat in natural high-quality food- especially not if it comes naturally in the food (like whole milk, butter, etc.- NOT trans-fats, hydrogenated oils, etc- these are really bad). My friend actually said that she saw some fat-free half & half in someone’s fridge… this is insanity. Cream is NOT fat-free, and it shouldn’t be. EAT YOUR FAT. It will be fine. And it will not make you fat. Whole, raw milk is a kind of perfect food (for those who can tolerate it), and you shouldn’t go messing with a good thing. If you can’t get raw, then go with the next best thing- but I really recommend keeping it full-fat!

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