Sunday, April 29, 2012

Greek Yogurt With Fruit

I've wanted to make homemade yogurt for a long time, I've just been... busy. Yeah, busy. Not scared of a silly little thing like yogurt. Nope, not scared at all. When one of my favorite cooking blogs posted the recipe and method for making yogurt I knew I had to conquer my fear clear out my schedule and tackle this one head on. I had success from the very first time I made this, although I have had to work out the straining process, but I think I have it now. There are two ways I've made this, on the stove and in the crockpot. I prefer the crockpot as it frees up my oven and I don't have to worry about scalding the milk.

Another thing I should note is that I looked at a lot of other recipes and one thing that I noticed is that the amount of yogurt (for the starter) varies from 2 teaspoons to 1 cup. Basically, if you add yogurt with live cultures, you'll be fine. So if you want to dump an entire 6 oz. container in your heated milk, go for it. Or you can be like me and add 2 or 3 good sized spoonfuls and then eat the rest. I should also mention the first time I made this I used key lime yogurt and it turned out fine, so if you can't find (or forget to buy) plain yogurt, use whatever you have.

The stovetop method is the recipe I found at Annie's Eats. She has great step by step pictures, and is also the source of the fruit mix-in recipe. The crockpot method I found at Our Life Simplified. The ingredients are the same, it's the method that's different.

1/2 gallon milk [I use whole or 2%]
2 tsp. to 1 cup plain yogurt with active cultures [I use a couple good sized spoonfuls]
1/4 to 1/2 cup instand dry milk powder [this is optional and I don't use it]
1 tbsp vanilla extract, optional [I usually don't use it]

Stovetop Directions: Add milk to a saucepan and head over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Heat until the temperature reaches 180 degrees F. Remove from the heat.

Set aside and let cool, stirring occasionally, until the temperature has dropped to between 110-120 degrees F.

Poor milk into ceramic or glass bowl and stir in plain yogurt. If you are using instant dry milk, whisk it in at this time.

Preheat the oven (to any temperature, I do mine to 500 degs F), shutting the oven off after 1 minute. Turn the oven light on (I don't have a light, so I don't do it.). Cover the dish and wrap the covered bowl in a couple of thick towels. I use a Pyrex bowl with a plate for a lid. Close the oven and let the mixture incubate in the warm oven for 8-12 hours.

Crockpot Directions: Pour milk into crockpot. Cover, turn on high and let the milk heat to 180 degrees F. I use a thermometer to be safe, but it does take 2 hours.

Turn the crockpot off. Take the lid off and let cool back down to 110-120 degrees F. This varies from 20-35 minutes depending on how warm my house is. Stir frequently to prevent the milk from forning a skin.

Stir in plain yogurt and instant dry milk (if using). Put the lid back on the crockpot. Wrap the entire crockpot with a thick towel and set aside for 8-12 hours.

Straining Directions for both methods: After your milk has incubated, it should look like yogurt with really yellow liquid. This liquid is whey, and can be strained off. Or if you want runny yogurt, don't strain it. I do strain mine. I tried using a fine mesh sieve to strain, but my sieve is really small so I was having to do it in batches. I really don't have that kind of time. But I do have a large plastic pasta colander... and it works great! I line it with paper towels, set the colander over a large Pyrex bowl, and put the whole thing in the fridge for a few hours. The longer it drains the thicker the yogurt will be. Usually I let mine drain over night.

Place the strained yogurt in a storage container and whisk in vanilla extract. Store in the refrigerator for a week. I like to divide mine up into ready to go containers. Sometimes I add a fruit mix-in [shown], the kids like honey, jelly or fruit cocktail with theirs.

For the fruit mix-in:
2 cups blueberries, raspberries, or chopped peaches (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp cold water
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice [I use the stuff that comes in the lemon shaped squeeze bottle, works fine]

In a medium sauce pan, combine the fruit and sugar. Heat until the fruit begins to release its juices. Mix the cornstarch with the cold water and lemon juice until lump free, then stir the slurry into the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 minute until thickened. Remove from heat. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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