Monday, September 5, 2011

Greek Yogurt and What to do with It

I love Greek Yogurt.  It is thick and creamy and tastes like a cross between cream cheese and sour cream, without all of the calories.  In fact, most diets allow and encourage yogurt.  But it is expensive.  I decided that I would just go ahead and buy it for myself.  I would buy a quart.  If I ate about a half cup a day it should last for 8 days.  I really like to eat it with fresh fruit, especially blueberries and raspberries and a squiggle of honey.  But I noticed that my container of yogurt ran out way before the 8 days were up.  Then I saw the problem.  Joe had sampled Greek yogurt at Costco.  He doesn't have the portion control skills that I have developed. He would fill his bowl with about a cup or more of yogurt at a time!  I confronted him.  I told him Greek yogurt is concentrated so he only needs half of what he thinks.  No change.  He countered that he was really hungry and the lady at Costco told him it was really good for his body.  I told him to add fruit to stretch his yogurt, but he said he only liked it with honey.  Finally I told him that Greek yogurt is an R rated food.  Only adults have the wisdom to eat the right amount and to appreciate it.  You can imagine how that went over.  I needed to ship Joe off to military school or figure out a cheaper source for my new found favorite food.

I remembered that back in the mid eighties I had fiends with home yogurt making machines so I started researching and discovered methods and recipes without special equipment.  I have tried it a couple of times and it is really good and really easy.  You don't need a yogurt maker, but you do need an instant read thermometer(available at Walmart or Target), a cooler, an electric blanket or throw, and 9 pint sized mason jars with lids.  I like to use the wide mouth jars but it really doesn't matter if you use the standard size.

Greek Yogurt

1 gallon of milk-skim to whole, whatever your preference
Enough powdered milk to make 1 gallon
1/2 to 1 cup of Greek yogurt to start the culture

Put your milk in a large pot.  Add the powdered milk.  Notice that I haven't told you exactly how much powdered milk to use.  You need to read the instructions on the powdered milk you have.  You might even add a little more powdered milk.  The more powdered milk you add the thicker the yogurt will be.  This is called fortified milk.  It is a double strength milk. Heat the milk to 190 degrees,  The heating chemically changes the milk.  If you skip this step or don' heat it adequately you will get a stringy and slimy yogurt.  Now the yogurt has to cool to 120 degrees.  If you want to speed the cooling you could put the pot in the sink surrounded by ice.  When the milk gets down to 120 degrees take out 2 cups and mix it with the yogurt.  I use a wire whisk on this step.  Then put the milk-yogurt mix into the pot of milk and whisk until the yogurt is completely incorporated.  At this point you can pour the milk through a cheese cloth or a thin tea towel to take out any grains or grittiness that has entered the milk during the heating and cooling process. 

Next, fill the jars with the yogurt infused milk.  Put the lids on the jars and screw down the bands.  Put all of the jars into a cooler and throw in the electric blanket.  Set the electric blanket to high.  Allow this to "cook" for 14 hours.  Next, put the yogurt in the fridge.  You will want to wait about 12 hours for the yogurt to cool and thicken up. 

The yogurt will stay good for at least 4 weeks in the fridge.  Make sure you keep 1 cup of the yogurt to start your next batch.

So the cost of this yogurt is the price of a gallon of milk and the price of the powdered milk.  In Dallas at this time the cost is about $4 for 9 pints of the best Greek yogurt you have ever eaten.

But what to do with all of that yogurt if you don't have a thirteen year old boy around?  I made some Mango Frozen Yogurt last night.  It was so good, just like the kind at Tutti Frutti.  I will post more Frozen yogurt recipes when I try them.

Mango Frozen Yogurt

2 C Greek yogurt
2/3 C milk
1/2 C sugar
2 T honey
2 large ripe mangoes, peeled and chunked

Put the mango chunks, milk, honey and sugar in the blender and process until smooth.  Add the yogurt and process until well blended. Place in the freezer or fridge for about an hour to chill.  Pour this into an ice cream freezer and let it run for 20-25 minutes. Perfection!

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