Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Greek Yogurt

A few months ago I developed a taste for Greek yogurt.  I love the creamy texture and plain Greek yogurt with a hint of honey is very tasty.
You may recall that last winter we made yogurt at the beginning of our cheese making journey (which was put on hold because we need a cheese press which the making of was put on hold to finish the canoe).  While I remembered making the yogurt, we didn't necessarily make the yogurt to use it as yogurt but in order to use it in cheeses.
During a few Facebook discussions over the last few weeks, I decided I needed to try my hand at it again, because my love of Greek yogurt (specifically, Fage) was becoming expensive.  I could easily eat $15 worth of yogurt a week but was limiting myself to $10 of yogurt a week.  That's still a lot of yogurt.  So, after some discussion with friends, I pulled out our old yogurt recipe and made up a batch of yogurt.
It turned out well enough and for the cost of a gallon of milk and "starter" yogurt, I made two container's worth of Greek yogurt.  (So, that was ~$4.50 for $10 worth of product.)  However, I felt that the process was more time-consuming than I was willing to put effort into simply because I have limited time for extra curricular, and let's face it, it's hard to keep scalded milk from suddenly becoming boiling milk when you have a couple of small ones wanting attention.  So, I did a bit more research online and came across this recipe for yogurt made in a crockpot.  Umm, what could be more excellent?

So, yesterday I whipped out my new gallon of milk (whoops, Adam drank some off the top over the weekend!) and my "starter" - which came from my last batch of yogurt, so essentially that was free.  Following the recipe, but going rogue by using almost a full gallon of milk as opposed to the half gallon in the recipe, I poured it into my crockpot and went to town.  I let it go for four hours on low and then wrapped it in towels for two.  I occasionally checked the temperature to make sure that my milk wasn't going above "scalding".  It wasn't.  Sweet!  Then right before bed I added the starter... and when I woke up this morning, voila, YOGURT! 
I created a makeshift strainer with light-weight (flour sack) kitchen towel in my big strainer and poured the yogurt in.  I left it out until about 4:00 pm and then transferred the strainer to sit over a bowl (instead of just in my sink) and stuck it in the fridge.  Last time, I "forgot" about the yogurt like this for three days... no big deal.  I think tomorrow I will check it to see how it's doing... tonight I drained off the whey that was already in the bowl so that my yogurt wasn't sitting in its whey.
When I think it is ready, I will put it in the food processor to froth it up a bit, and if I think it's TOO creamy, I'll add a small amount of whey back in.  Then, into the containers it goes and back in the fridge for me to delight in whenever I feel like it.  (Note: When I began my straining earlier today, I took a cup of yogurt out and put it in a container to use it as my "starter" for my next batch.)
Now that I've got a "starter" going, which I know will still be active for a week, if not longer, my yogurt is only costing the price of a gallon of milk - ~$2.80 (Hyvee brand, Skim).  Sweet.  That's $10 worth of yogurt for ~$3... I figure that will save me ~$30 a month which is nice considering how skinny our budget is right, even the groceries.

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