|Yogurt, about the thickness of sour cream, but not quite as smooth.|
So, since moving to Washington and being equipped with the tools to make much better eating decisions by having whole, healthy, non-altered food at our finger tips, I've decided to start up my yogurt making again. We buy our milk from Twin Brook Creamery, and if you're local, I highly recommend them. Chuck and I have talked to the owners, and they are some of the nicest, sweetest people ever! Plus they are Christians, and that is just plain awesome. This is on the main page of their website: We are a family owned & operated dairy that exists to glorify God through the stewardship of the soil and animals He has entrusted to our care, in the best possible way. What is not to love?!
Considering that my favorite store bought brand costs about almost $5 a quart, and a half gallon of whole, raw milk costs $3.19, the savings are pretty obvious. Plus, by making your own yogurt, you get the benefit of having whey. Whatever you do, do not throw this out! Grace Harbor Farms is my favorite locally owned place to buy my yogurt from. It is delicious cream top yogurt that is made from non-homogenized milk from Guernsey cows. And another great thing, they are also a Christian owned farm! If you drive by their farm you'll see a their sign out front with a prominent Bible verse right out for everyone to see. Just another thing to add to their list of awesomeness.
Yogurt is super easy to make. In fact, I'd say it's one of the easiest non-messable-up things you can do. So that fact combined with the truth that it saves you money, isn't time consuming, and is super duper healthy, you now have all the reasons you need to head to your kitchen and start your yogurt a'culturin'!
1 crockpot (I use a small crockpot, about 3 quarts)
2 bath towels
1/2 gallon of milk (whole, raw, milk is best...but second to that would be organic milk from the store)
1/2 cup of starter yogurt (if this is your first time making yogurt, buy a container of the BEST yogurt you can find at the store to use for this. It's a one-time buy, so you can splurge a little.)
(Note: The original recipe I started with for this over a year ago can be found at Nourishing Days. Be sure to check out her beautiful website!)
Pour your half gallon of milk into the crockpot. Turn it on low and let it go for about 2-3 hours. Once that's done, take a bowl (or something similar) and add about 1/2-1 cup of yogurt and about 1 cup of the warm milk and mix it together really well. Pour it back into the crockpot with the rest of the warm milk and stir it up well so the yogurt is evenly distributed.
Put the lid back on the crockpot, wrap the whole thing up in two full sized bath towels, set it in a place where it won't be in the way, and let it sit for at least 8-12 hours. Longer is allllways fine. When you open it back up after this time period, you'll have real live yogurt!
(Hint: Start your milk warming in the afternoon, and by the time it's warmed and you've added the yogurt and let it start the sitting process, it'll be time for bed. By the time you get back to the kitchen the next day, it will have been sitting for about 12 hours! Yay!)
Now, for Greek yogurt, set up a bowl/strainer system. In the strainer, lay some cheesecloth (or a double layer of paper towel, but be careful because it rips easily.) Pour your yogurt into the strainer lined with cheesecloth and let it strain for as along as you want. I let mine go for about an hour and a half, and that gives me deliciously thick Greek yogurt and a whole quart of whey. It's perfect!
Spoon your yogurt into a quart jar, put a lid on it and you're done! Pour the whey into a different quart jar, and save that for later use. (More on that below!)
|Yogurt on the left, whey on the right.|
NOW, as a little bonus section, let's talk about whey and what to do with the awesome stuff. Whey has tonssss of uses. If you throw it out, shame on you. You need to quit that bad habit right this instant.
Here are a few of the health benefits of using whey in your everyday cooking and diet:
- It is full of minerals (potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus)
- It helps to regenerate the intestinal flora
- It is a natural detox
- Helps promote weight loss
- For more details, see here and here
Whey is equivalent in health benefits to breast milk, so you can just imagine how good it is for you to be eating it!
A few uses for whey just to get you started:
- Use it in place of milk in any recipe (bread, pancakes, etc.)
- Use it to ferment things
- Use it to soak grains (oatmeal soaking, anyone?)
- Add it to smoothies
- Use it as a hair product
- Make ricotta cheese
- Use it in your compost bin
- Use it to make whey lemonade
- And the list goes on!
- For a starter list, see 16 Ways to Use Whey
My favorite uses for whey are to use it in pancakes and in homemade bread. It's convenient, healthy, and so good to know that when you make yogurt, you're not wasting even a single part of the milk.
So there you have it! If you decide to give this a try, be sure to let me know how it turned out for you. As always, feel free to ask questions! Happy yogurt making!