From harvest to table ~ what's cooking now?

This blog shows where all those garden goodies I grow end up. I call this little eating area next to the stove my "chef's table" because at all the best restaurants it's a privilege to be invited to dine in the kitchen where the chef reigns supreme. So here I am "reigning" and you are all invited. :-D

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Let's start with yogurt

Hi and welcome to my new blog page. Over this past winter several of my garden posts on the main page showed some of the comfort food (soups, stews, etc.) that helped me get through this long long (really long) winter this year.  And, sometimes, there's no garden news to blog when the snow is up to here and the wind is howling.  So I thought why not add a page to bring all that cooking, canning and preserving together.  Why not indeed.  So here it is.  LOL  

Yesterday I decided to make yogurt.  Earlier in the week I got a good deal on a gallon of organic milk.  So I picked up some plain Dannon yogurt as a starter.  (Dang! They don't sell the plain in 1C cartons anymore so I had to shell out for a whole quart! *grumble*)  Ah well, that should be the last time I'll need that!)

To the gallon of milk I added 1 packet (about 3/4C) of dried non-fat milk to fortify and add body to the finished yogurt.

I was all excited to use my new thermometer, but turns out it was defective.  There were 2 bubbles in the temp gauge so I wasn't sure if it was reading right.  Instead of trying to figure out if I'd brought the milk up to 185F (to sterilize off existing cultures/bacteria) I used my old-fashioned method.  I brought to milk just below boiling and kept it there for 3 minutes.  

Then I needed to cool the milk to 110F (or old-fashioned again, until you can dip your little finger (a very clean finger!) and hold it in the milk for 10 seconds).  I could have let the milk cool on its own, but to speed things up I filled the sink 1/3 deep with cold water, then set the kettle in, stirring the milk and occasionally swishing the kettle in the water.  It only took 3-4 minutes for the temp to come right down.

I took 4 heaping soupspoons of the Dannon, mixed in less than a cup of the milk, creamed it up well and added it to the milk.  I stirred it all in then poured the inoculated milk into clean 1-quart yogurt cartons.  With the addition of the milk solids and the Dannon yogurt I got 4 quarts and 1 cup.  (I always save the cup container for making my next batch.)

I set the containers on a moisture-proof heating pad set to low, and snugged them under a couple of kitchen towels then left them for about 6.5 hours.  (After 2 hours I could see the little container was already starting to gel.)

After they'd fermented for nearly 7 hours, I popped them all into the 'fridge overnight to totally set up.

Today, to make my yogurt sweet and creamy, I removed some of the bitter whey.  I dipped out the yogurt into coffee filter in strainers and let the whey drip out for 2 hours in the 'fridge.

I find that 2 hours drips out 1C per quart of new yogurt.

Now I have  3 quarts of yogurt, perfectly thick and creamy, sweet and delicious.  Bring on the fruit!

Oh wait -- here it is now. :-D

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