I have mentioned before that I do not drink milk, but I do eat full-fat and cultured dairy (basically, butter, cheese, and yogurt).
And I have learned to make my own yogurt! I am so very, very proud of myself. I have already made two successful batches. And with the second batch, all I used was a little bit of the yogurt from my first batch as a starter. I think that I am officially done buying yogurt. My homemade creation is much more cost effective, healthy (I know that it has real live and active cultures, because I grew them!), and tasty. This yogurt is far and away the most delicious I have ever had.
There are many recipes floating around the internet for making yogurt in the crock pot. I tried this method a few months ago and I was wholly unsuccessful. I think that it was the lack of exact measurement that turned me off and led to my failure. I need to have specific numbers and quantities if I am going to conduct such an exacting experiment as culturing my own yogurt.
Not too long ago, Nick bought me a very special treat . . . a half-gallon of lightly pasteurized, non-homogenized, organic, all grass-fed milk.
(That is unfortunately the best we can do in Wisconsin, where raw milk is illegal. I used to drink raw milk as a child . . . I just stuck my head under the cow, but that was quite a few years ago. I would be hesitant to start drinking it during pregnancy in any case, unless I had a relationship with a farmer that I knew and trusted. But for any of you who have not guessed it yet, I strongly believe that we should Keep Food Legal.)
But back to the story of my yogurt. I found an alternate recipe that worked like a charm for me. I poured my half-gallon of deliciousness into a large stock pot, heated it on low until it reached 180. (I finally have a use for the candy thermometer!), then removed it from the heat and allowed it to cool. When it reached 110 I whisked in ½ cup of my starter. (This can be either from a previous batch of homemade yogurt, or store-bought – just make sure that it contains live and active cultures. My first starter was Stonyfield organic plain.) Now the trick is to keep the milk at a steady 110 degrees so that it can culture. If you have an oven with a warming setting that goes down to 100, that would be ideal. Our oven will not go lower than 170, but I do happen to have a dehydrator large enough to fit my pan of yogurt! I put a lid on the culturing mixture and set it in the dehydrator for thirteen hours. The resulting yogurt was a bit thinner than store-bought yogurt (homemade tends to be), but infinitely tastier. I am very much in love with this new cultured food, and I am never going back to the store-bought stuff.
I am now eating yogurt plain, in smoothies (blended with berries), mixed with some fruit and honey, in my dinner recipes (be on the lookout for some of those, coming soon!), and even frozen. Which brings me to my recipe for today, an amazing summer dessert that it light, refreshing, and surprisingly nourishing. I was so excited to break out the long-neglected ice cream maker, along with my ice cream scoop (collecting dust in the back of a drawer in the dining room) and fancy ice cream parlor glasses (collecting dust in the garage).
Strawberry Swirl Fro-Yo
2 cups strawberries, chopped into little chunks (or whatever berry you want – I bet that raspberries would be delicious)
2 cups yogurt
¼ cup honey
2 tsp vanilla
Place your strawberries in a saucepan and cook on medium-low until the fruit begins to break down and the juices thicken (mine took about 20 minutes). Remove the fruit and strain through a fine sieve, maybe even crushing the fruit a little bit with the back of your spoon. (The extra liquid is great for flavoring tea, by the way!) Leave your fruit in the fridge or freezer to cool so it is ready for your frozen yogurt.
In another bowl, mix together the yogurt, honey, and vanilla with a blender. Place in your ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. When the yogurt is ready, layer it with the cooled berries in a freezer-safe container, and then swirl it around with a spoon to get a nice marbled effect. Freeze for about three hours, until it is a solid consistency. Then try not to eat the whole batch in one sitting. Or at least share it with a friend so that you have an excuse for finishing it in one sitting . . . which is exactly what Nick and I did.
I am sharing this recipe at Sweets for Saturday, The Weekend Gourmet at Hartke is Online, Sugar-Free Sunday, Mouthwatering Mondays, Mangia Mondays, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Monday Mania at the Healthy Home Economist, Delicious Dishes, Tasty Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, the Tasty Tuesday Link Party, What’s on the Menu Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, and the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop.