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Artisan Cuisine: Homemade yogurt easy and healthy

Growing up I remember my mom had a yogurt maker that came with its own individual glass jars. As a kid, I hated the sour taste of plain yogurt and would turn my nose up at it when offered with just some fruit and honey. I have to admit, it’s one of my favorite treats now. Especially the thicker, less sour Greek yogurt. What I don’t like is having to read and decipher ingredients on packages from the store. Something as simple as yogurt needs no more than a few ingredients. I like to make my own as it’s easy to do without any special equipment. And yogurt with live cultures can be really good for you and you can make it fat free and get all the good protein without overindulging. What you’ll need is as follows:

• 1/2 gallon best-quality milk you can afford (I love Borges milk)

• 1 cup organic yogurt with active live cultures (it will say on label)

• 1/2 cup powdered milk (optional)

• large mason jar or other glass or ceramic bowl with lid

• instant read thermometer

• a cooler or oven that heats as low as 100F

• towels

Sterilize your utensils in the dishwasher or by briefly boiling in a water bath for a few minutes. Let air dry. Heat the milk (enough to almost fill the container you’ll be using) over a low pot on medium-high heat. If you’re adding the powdered milk, stir it in now. The powdered milk will help it have a thicker texture. Heat till 180° F (before boiling) and then take off heat and let cool to 115° F. Then mix in the organic yogurt (as your starter) and pour into your container (a mason jar works well). Put the lid on and put it into a 100° F oven or if your oven won’t go that low, you can place a large towel inside of a cooler and sit the milk container inside to insulate and keep its temperature around 100 degrees.  It will take anywhere from 8–12 hours to set up. Other ways to keep your milk from cooling down too much (you also don’t want it to overheat) is to insulate it with towels and a heating pad or some people use the lowest setting on their crockpot. The main idea is to maintain the temperature till it sets up. Refrigerate till you’re ready to eat. Fresh yogurt will last at least a week. Save out a cup of your yogurt to be the starter for the next batch and you will never buy store-bought yogurt again.

If, like me, you prefer the thicker, less tangy taste of Greek yogurt you can take your finished yogurt and strain out more of the whey by lining a colander with some coffee filters (2 should be fine). Let the yogurt strain out of the colander into a bowl in the fridge overnight. Some people actually call this yogurt cheese. You can use it as you would sour cream or crème fraîche. Either way it’s delicious!

Anne Boulley is a local chef and culinary instructor with a passion for artisan foods. Her cooking classes and services are offered via her website, www.thegourmetguide.com.


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