SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

January 17, 2016

Ferment own Yogurt

EASY DIY (really good) YOGURT

Fermented foods are tops on my list for health promotion.  I just put-up a batch of fermented veggies a few day ago, and can hardly wait;  so cold now, it’ll probably take about 10 to  12 days.  Three huge jars are in my Coleman food container in the pantry.   First time I made them some years ago, I had set them on the top shelf in pantry where I knew they’d be safe and out-of-the-way.  Pressure builds in those jars and I didn’t know that, but I sure found out the hard way. . .but thats a whole other story.  There’s more than just veggies to be done, dairy can be excellent. .as in kefir and yogurt.  There are excellent books written by experts on fermenting.  While I’m no expert,  I  know  how to ferment and have posted  my how-to (several times) and showcased others, over my 8 years

But what I  want to discuss now is simple, delicious (and kinda expensive when you buy it in the stores)  organic yogurt.  I say ‘organic’ because we start off with a quart of good, rich WHOLE  (my preference) milk from cows which have presumably been allowed to graze on grass.  This however, works with low-fat or skim milk as well, it just won’t be as rich.   You’ll  pay more for organic  because they are fed right,  not subjected to GRAINS. .  . they move around.  Of course RAW would be my preference, but haven’t found an access for raw in years.   A word about that fat;  hope all have learned that GOOD FAT is really GOOD for US!  Coming from organically grown and fed farms.  Same with butter.  DO use butter, coconut oil,  extra virgin Olive oil, but STAY AWAY from those oils (so-called vegetable oils which have been heat processed) . . e,g. corn oil, canola, etc.  And of course, eat eggs.  If you’re eating right, you should be consuming mostly  fresh, organic produce – veggies and fruits (up to 85%).  This insures that you indeed do have all your vitamins and MINERALS,  so the body being well nourished will be able to properly utilize that cholesterol (which especially, the heart and brain need)  Anyway, full-fat milk tastes  so much better.  

THE PROCESS

Back to the Yogurt,  making it today is still about the same as it was thousands of  years ago  The same principles are involved and haven’t changed, with the exception of flavoring variations with fruit, etc., as so many prefer today.  Over the years we’ve been told how precise the  process is and encouraged to buy specialized yogurt-machines, etc.,.  But no special equipment is necessary. . . thermometers,  . .  . or starters, . . . or recipes.  It starts with a spoon or two of starter which is as simple as saving a teaspoon or two from your LAST BATCH to begin  your new batch.  If haven’t made it before, just buy a good one in health food store or one you trust in  any store — save off this small amount to make your new batch.  We add this starter to a quart of  your choice of milk, bearing in mind that whole fat milk produces richer, thicker yogurt.   The process in loose terms is  to heat the milk until little bubbles start to form around the edges of pot; then remove from heat and let it cool  slightly.  A heavy enameled casserole can be used for the whole procedure or can heat in a pan and transfer to a crockery bowl which  is helpful as the temperature should be maintained while it sets and crockery retains the heat well.    Next add some milk to the leftover yogurt slowly, gently stirred, then add rest of milk until fully blended — over-stirring results in liquified, sour results.  Put a lid on your container and wrap in towels, or paper or blanket (to maintain warmth) of approximately 115 degrees   and let it rest for 6 to 8 hours

THE TEMPERATURE

Once the almost boiled milk cools a bit, use your pinky finger dipped into the milk to test for temperature;  This is all you need — your pinky is your thermometer.  The temperature is right when it feels very warm, but is not so hot you can’t leave your finger in it.  That’s good enough.  Keeping the temperature constant as it sets is actually the only hurdle, our variations in  living temperatures of most kitchens being what it is.   115 is desirable for 6 to 8 hours.  If culture goes below 95 or above 120 degrees – – the culture is killed.  Hence your mental calculation of your own temperature of the place it will sit to develop, and whether to use towels, paper or blankets to maintain the constancy.  

RECAP

Ingredients:  1 quart milk    1 Tablespoon yogurt        Process:  Bring milk slowly to almost a boil in saucepan.  Remove from heat – cool to slightly warmer than  luke-warm or 115 degrees on candy thermometer.  Blend small amount of milk into yogurt starter in a one quart jar or bowl.  Gradually stir in remainder of milk, blending gently and slowly (don’t whip or over-stir).  Cover, wrap with heavy wool or blanket;  let stand 6 to 8 hours in draft-free place until set.  Makes one quart.

HONEY YOGURT:  stir 2 tbsp honey into yogurt before adding the milk to it.

VANILLA YOGURT:  Stir 2 tsp vanilla into yogurt-milk mixture before wrapping.

P.S.   Came by to see how this post looked to me — not gathering much attention, it seems.     This  process works really well, but maybe I didn’t include enough  of my own experience with it so that you’d understand that I’m not just throwing some odd recipe at you.    This entire blog is primarily about H E A  L T H  !    But also economy and how to make our lives better on so many levels.  I found these few old recipes going back to 1977 and 1963, clipped from my newspaper in California.  (have admitted to my pack-rat tendencies).  Honestly, I had forgotten about them.  Back then, I wasn’t as big on yogurt as I am now,  but wanted to save them anyway,  just in case.   Maybe  25 years later, when I was into  yogurt, wanted to try making it, so I bought the yogurt maker and after repeated  disappointing trials and effort – just abandoned the  idea.  It was either too hard for me, or I was somehow no good at it.  Whole milk yogurt goes for $3 – $4 easily and more if organic;    so making this DIY at home is just logical.

The results are XLNT.  No longer have to chase to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.  Don’t know why I didn’t tell what/how I do it.  Couldn’t be easier, tho,  anybody could improve on my peculiar, over-done way of doing it.   I heat the milk in a rather large stainless-steel pot (slowly) until the little bubbles form, then set aside.   I use my crock pot  as it fits the requirements of the  recipe so I pour the  really warm milk into it and put lid on.  Have already measured out a tablespoon (rounded) of yogurt into a porcelain one-cup (+) size mixing bowl and added the honey and slightly mixed them together.  Periodically try the pinky test referred to above.  Cool down can take 10 to 20 minutes. Then ladle approx. 1/4 cup of milk into the yogurt and gently, slowly stir.. .then add a little more, stir again.  Next I add the yogurt in the smaller container to the crock pot.  When I’m satisfied I’ve stirred enough,  . . I add in the Vanilla and stir  slightly again.  Please do use PURE, REAL VANILLA – not synthetic.  

Now comes the wrapping up process.   Made some just yesterday and already have my fermented veggies working in the pantry, on the floor in that Coleman lunch-box thing. . . so I put a really large bowl atop it, lined it w/quite a bit of newspaper. . . .set the crockpot inside its metal container,  atop the paper; covered with more layers of paper (who knows how much is enough?).  That won’t do it. . .got a woolen throw from my bed and wrapped that all around, oughtta do it. . . .   .   . but maybe not, it is so o o   cold now, so I put another, heavy knitted afghan atop all.  Quickly left the pantry and closed the door, as I’ve gone into conflict with all this indecision over how much  is enough!  arrgh. …     This turned out scrumptious in spite of me.  Incidentally, you don’t have to use honey or Vanilla!  The only thing I like better than honest to God Vanilla is the fabulous chocolate I buy at WILDERNESS FAMILY NATURALS.   I buy it online (just add .com to the name) by the 5# container and it is also “Fermented”. . .never had anything so good or so reasonably priced.  One might be able to add Stevia instead of other sweeteners.     . . .  . anway, hope some one will give this a go, it’s so good.          Jan

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