Friday, June 15, 2012

Post-travel binge cooking / homemade yogurt

After a lovely ten days of travel in Guatemala, I was ready to COOK!

I got home on Wednesday and spent much of Thursday piddling around the kitchen in between laundry and cleaning breaks. It was awesome. I made salsa, pesto, sun tea, and YOGURT!

While in Guatemala, I spent time with an American family that lives there (and does amazing things for the indigenous people of Guatemala -- read about it HERE). This family and their grown children that lived nearby had milk cows and, as a result, more milk than they knew what to do with, so they made their own yogurt. Katie made us a yogurt smoothie that was fabulous and talked about how easy it was, so I decided to give it a try.

And she was right. It was easy.

Step 1: Gather tools and ingredients. I used two thick-bottomed dutch ovens, a thermometer, 1/2 gallon of whole milk, and two cups of my favorite Greek yogurt (check to be sure yours has live cultures). You can use 1 cup of pre-made yogurt and 1/2 cup powdered milk to make your yogurt thicker. I didn't have powdered milk so I upped the amount of yogurt.

Step 2: Heat milk to 190 degrees F in one of the dutch ovens. You don't want the milk to boil or scald. Some people do this in the crock pot, which I might try next time as it would require less attention though more time. If you're cooking milk in the crock pot, set on low for 2.5 hours. Check the temp to be sure it's warmed to 190 degrees F.

Step 3: Pour hot milk into the second dutch oven. I used my crock pot crock. Then, put in sink filled partway with cool water. It's necessary to lower the temperature to 120 degrees F before adding the live cultures as warmer temperatures might kill the cultures.

Step 4: Whisk in store-bought yogurt. Once this batch is done, you can use it as your starter for next time.

Step 5: Wrap crock with a thick beach towel for insulation and put it in the oven for 8 hours. Turn the oven light on to add a little extra heat. If you're fortunate enough to have an oven that will set to 100 degrees F, you can forgo the towel and leave the oven on.

Step 6: Refrigerate, strain with cheesecloth (if thick yogurt is desired), and enjoy your yogurt!

Smoothies, yogurt and granola, fruit and yogurt, tzatziki, yogurt muffins, yogurt veggie dips, etc.

Here are some more ideas from Shape Magazine.

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