Sunday, October 14, 2012

Making Greek Yogurt at the Bush's

It may sound funny to you, but hubby really thinks his daily breakfast was directly sent from heaven! He says breakfast can't get any better than the "milk and honey" he gets every morning. You got it, he thinks the kitchen is the "promise land" where his "milk and honey" A.K.A Greek yogurt flows..Now don't ask me about how he fits the "Greek" part in the story ok.

Well, funny or not, I am completely delighted knowing that I don't have to second guess what he wants for breakfast everyday, and that I can provide as much as he likes (And that's a lot, people!) without breaking the family grocery budget. A quart of a comparable quality Greek yogurt from the store is about $4.50. (We like Cabot Greek). So at our normal rate of 6 quarts per month, we save about $14 a month or almost $170 a year saved on just one item! And that's without counting in the added value of having a homemade product with no yucky chemicals added. =)

Plus you can add whatever fresh fruit you want!

Ok, I have gotten enough people asking me about how to do yogurt at home. So even as I know the response is just "You tube" away, I want to share how we do it here for future reference. I will include the little lessons we've learned over almost 2 years of making it home.


This is what you'll need:

1. A big pot: Bear in mind that the more you do, the less work you have to do.  I decided  to use a 20qt pot at home to be able to make 2 gallons of milk which yields about 3 quarts of creamy Greek yogurt. Enough to last us for two weeks.

2. Milk: As stated above 1 gallon yields about 1.5 qts. We use whole milk, as we don't like using diet products at home, specially diary. We respect other people's choices, but we personally dislike the chemicals added to skim milk, and personally believe that a decrease on consumption of healthy saturated fats can increase your cravings for carbs and sugars, which ultimately make you fatter. If you want to read more about it, you can go here. Or here. I warn you, this is a highly polemical subject. And it's ok if you disagree. You just do whatever you think is best for your family. You should know though, that the consistency of your homemade Greek yogurt will vary depending on your choice. Skim milk yields a less thick product. 

3. A Yogurt Starter: You'll need this just the first time you're making yogurt. After that you can keep reusing your own as a starter for years! We were recommended the brand "Seven Stars Farm". And we really think is the best. Well, not as good as the one made at home. But a second best. =) 

4. A Food Thermometer: We use a digital one with a probe on a cable that we just throw in the milk.

5. A Bowl or two: Depending on how much you're making.

6. A Strainer that fits your bowl(s)

7. 1 piece of Cheese-Cloth or Paper Towels: I like to use cheese cloth not only to go the greener route, (It's washable & reusable), but also saves you money in the long run. Because unless you use high quality paper towel, you may end up with yucky  pieces of paper towel in your yogurt. Bear in mind to never bleach your cheese-cloth, just wash it with warm water and  soap. I normally leave it soaking overnight on  a 50/50 solution of water & vinegar after I wash it.

8. A Heating Pad: We just use the same one we use for aching muscles. I can't recall using it for its real purpose, but just to make yogurt at home! =P

Ok. That's it. Here are your directions:

1. Pour milk in pot

2. Place on Med-high heat on stove

3. Stir: You can stir on an off the first few minutes, but once the milk gets warmer & warmer you want to stir more and more often. Milk can get burned at the botton of the pot, and you REALLY NEED to avoid this. With experience you'll learn how often you need to stir.

4. Measure the temperature: The goal is to take the pot off the heat at 185 degrees Fahrenheit    If this is the first time you're doing this, you want to drop your thermometer in the milk right after the milk starts getting warm. With experience, you'll learn that you can wait until you see bubbles forming around the round edges of the milk.

5. Take off the heat and let sit until temperature reaches 120 degrees: You may want to stir occasionally to avoid the cream to form a crust on top of your milk, unless you want to get rid of some cream. We try not to!

Unless you forget to stir, as you see on this picture..oops!

6. Add 2 heaped TBS of your yogurt starter. 

7. Cover with lid and place on top of your heating pad.

8. Let stand undisturbed for 10 hours or overnight

9. At this point you have regular yogurt and you don't have to do anything else if that's what you want. But keep on going if you want to "greekefy" it. =)

10. Set up your bowl(s), strainer(s), and liners as shown on the picture:

Use a double layer to maximize the straining process. ;)

11. Pour yogurt into the strainers with ladle:

12. Cover and let sit in fridge for another 6-8 hours. 

13. At this point you'll have Greek yogurt and whey. I normally save some of the whey to lacto-ferment other foods. You can get lots of ideas and benefits of lactofermentation on the book "Nourishing Traditions" or the Weston Price foundation website.

Ok that's it. Enjoy with whatever fits you fancy and have seconds!! Or use it as part of many other recipes. Do you know Greek yogurt is the base to make yummy Tzatziki sauce? There's another idea. ;)