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):
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!