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Posts tagged ‘yogurt’

How I make Yogurt

I am currently on a big yogurt kick, primarily fueled by having bought an Instantpot®. Yes, I’ve joined that cult. No, I don’t cook everything in it, but when it comes to beans or yogurt, I’m a believer.

My daughter bought me a lovely yogurt maker that I used for years, but it used 7 little jars, which I always ended up combining. I often wished there was a way to make a BIG batch of yogurt at one time, but keeping the temperature correct, which is the key, seemed too iffy. The yogurt making feature of the Instantpot was half the reason I bought it, with it’s 8 quart capacity. IF you say to me, “why make it when you can buy it”, I reply, it is cheaper, and I get a great deal of satisfaction, and I get the whey. More about that later.IMG-4965

So what I do is heat the milk first in the microwave, using a very large bowl. I am not certain about the reason for this, my understanding is that it eliminates foreign bacteria that could spoil it, or possibly it changes the nature of the protein, making the yogurt thicker. In any case, I do it and it has always worked. I have never worried too much about the temperature, I get it good and hot, over 160 F on my thermometer. I used to do one qt. at 11 minutes, I do 2 qts. at 15 minutes on high and all seems well.

Next I let it cool to 120 F. I made two batches this week, one using frozen whey, the other fresh, and the first I added the frozen whey when it was at 140 F, hoping the fact the whey was frozen would prevent it from killing the bacteria, the second it was cooler than 120 F, as I had forgotten it, and they both turned out fine.

A note on the whey. I have gone from feeding it to my dogs, plants, compost, etc., to hoarding it for myself. Using a half cup or so to start the next batch is about all I’ll spare from eating it myself. It does make for a more liquid yogurt to use it for the starter, but I strain my yogurt anyway, so I get it back.

Next you add the starter to the warm milk, either in the pot you heated in, or the Instantpot. The starter can be whey from a previous batch, yogurt from the store, as long as it is plain and says live cultures, or yogurt from your previous batch. If you don’t plan on straining your yogurt, don’t start it with whey.

The next step is to throw it in the instant pot on the yogurt setting for 12 hours. You can do 8-10, but I like to give the little critters all the time they might need. I have no idea if there is such a thing as too long.  Put the lid on, go to sleep and wake up to yogurt the next day. When you take the lid off, take a peek and see if it is jelly like with chartreuse liquid about. Don’t worry if you don’t see any liquid, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.

Now I pour it in a strainer lined with paper towels set over a LARGE bowl. I set it in the fridge until I remember IMG-4966to look at it again. Seriously. I always forget about it at this stage. It can get too thick for my liking, so I get aggravated at myself if I forget it too long. It has to be a large bowl. You will be shocked at how much whey is in there. Cleaning whey off of the fridge shelf is not my idea of fun. I left it for 6 hours yesterday and that was pretty good. I usually do it for 4-8 hours.

Don’t panic if the paper towel sticks when you go to dump the yogurt IMG-4967

out to it’s final home. For whatever reason, yogurt sticks better to itself than to the towel. I’ve never had a big problem with separating the two. yogurt.jpg

Here is the final product in all it’s glory, ready to eat. I don’t know if you can see in the picture, but more whey continues to come up even after all that straining.

Now, about all that whey. I tried soaking my everyday loaded oatmeal in it overnight and now I’m hooked. I try to keep sugar to a minimum, and somehow the whey makes the oatmeal taste sweeter, and makes the texture creamier. If that idea does not appeal to you, you can still use it for your pets or plants, or even as the liquid in baking bread, it’ll give the yeast a boost and condition the dough.

Sloooow food.

We’ve been warned of the dangers of fast food till we’re bored with it. Judging by how full the parking lots are, it  hasn’t made a dent in people’s eating habits. I’ve recently become even more enamored with slow food. Really slow food. I’ve been making bread using only sourdough starter, and still making my yogurt.

This isn’t going to be a “how-to” post, rather a yes, you can. I realize we are all busy and tired, but these are foods that don’t take a lot of time. Or rather, they do, but not from you. For example, it takes less than a few minutes to feed your starter:

potato sour dough starter

potato starter


This starter is made from a few table spoons of instant potatoes, sugar and water. It can survive in your fridge or freezer almost indefinitely. You just feed it and it does its own thing.


You use it to make sour dough bread. I’ve been using the recipe it came with (from a friend), and one from the internet, and you don’t have to use yeast. It does take a looong time, but you just put it in a bowl and ignore it. You can start it the night before and it’ll be ready for the second rise when you get up in the morning. I started my last one on a weekday and didn’t have time for it for days, so I put it in the fridge till I was ready for it. sour dough

It did fine.

yogurt being cultured in little glass jars


The yogurt is the same thing. I saved some of the last batch I had made in the freezer. I take a little over a liter of milk, microwave it for 11 minutes till it bubbles, then let it cool to 115/120 degrees. Add some of the frozen yogurt, stir and pour into jars. Put them in my yogurt maker and walk away. This time it took longer. It was yogurt in the morning, but I wanted it thicker, so I went to work and popped them in the fridge when I got home. I drained them after dinner and I was done.


I also recently read that you don’t have to soak beans before cooking. I tried that, and it’s true. I put them inbeans simmering in the crockpot after dinner, and they were well cooked the next morning. Since beans are such a good food, cooking up a big batch and having them on hand to add to a variety of other foods is a great thing.

Fast Food

Now, in telling you all this, don’t think I hate fast food. I can use my microwave and frying pan to get dinner on the table in 20 minutes. I cook fish straight from the freezer and nuke broccoli and potatoes. Any way you can get tasty healthy food instead of garbage is ok in my book. But if you want fast food all week, take a few minutes here and there to add slow food. Cook a batch of rice while you are eating dinner for the next day. Always through roasted vegetables in with your chicken, make your stove work harder. I don’t think anything’s easier than roasting a whole butternut while my chickens cooking, then I de-bone the chicken and scoop the squash at the same time. Could be then, could be two days later. Make your fridge, freezer, microwave and oven really work for you.

A Whole Lotta Love

Sometimes I rant, sometimes I praise. Today’s a praise day. I already had a topic for today, but then I saw this article on how to have your carbs while diabetic and had to throw it in. I always get nervous when I seen anything that looks like “how to have your cake and eat it too”, but this is an excellent article. I wish I’d written it. Great graphics as well. If you aren’t diabetic, you should still eat like you are. None of us need all that sugar. Sugar and other simple carbs in mass quantities is what got us here in the first place. The article has a great graphic showing 1/2 your plate being a non starchy vegetable, and the other two quarters divided between fibrous starches and low-fat protein. Yeah, yea, woot woo. To top it off, they finish with recipes, which is where I fall down, because most people would not eat what I like.

….Which is a really good segue into my other topic for today. You know I make my own greek yogurt. If you don’t, see here. I have been trying to come up with more uses for all that whey, and, as I mentioned in that episode, I have been experimenting with using it in bread. My latest obsession is pita bread. The stuff from the store tastes so darn good. I don’t eat a lot of bread, but I am certainly not an anti gluten or anti carb person. I’m using the whey instead of water. I tried a batch a couple of weeks ago that was nearly disastrous. Pita’s have to be cooked hot and fast. Those weren’t. I did much better this time:

IMG_1158They aren’t perfect, but the flavor and texture were spot on. I used “Peppy’s Pita Bread” recipe on allrecipies.com. I think this has shown me where my breads have fallen short. I’ve been too afraid of over baking, and I think being thoroughly baked is the key to really good bread. I let you know as I try my hypothosis.

Before we leave the topic of yogurt, I did try two experiments lately. First, I tried just using the whey to make the next batch of yogurt. It’s difficult to have the store-bought yogurt on hand to make the next batch, since I use it to make yogurt. It tends to go bad before I get to it. Plus, it rankles me to have to buy the very product I’m making. So, I tried freezing the store-bought, and only scraping enough off to inoculate the milk, but that was a royal pain. If I want to try that again, I’ll divide it in an ice-cube tray and freeze it that way. However, I took a small batch of milk and just added the whey I had been storing in the fridge, and it worked! The only down side was that the yogurt was more watery, since adding whey is adding water. For whatever reason, whey doesn’t get moldy like yogurt does, and I always have plenty on hand.

I thawed the rest of the yogurt I had frozen for that experiment, and found that it had separated from being frozen, but if I drained the whey off it was still perfectly good. If you are wondering why I am so yogurt crazy, I’m not, in that I don’t eat lots of it, but I now consider it an essential staple to have in the house. It makes a wonderful replacement to sour cream, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and, of course, is great for all its traditional uses. I have drained it enough to make a cream cheese type cheese. My next experiment will be to try to go further and make a fresh cheese out of it by draining it further.

For a snack today, I’m going to make a taco dip variation by putting a layer of humus, a layer of drained yogurt, salsa and cheddar. I have nothing against using beans to make the dip, I’m just trying to empty my cupboards, so it was humus this week. I also used the drained yogurt in tuna salad, along with some mayo and mustard.

I just think if you can replace things that are not all that good for you with things that are, and still find them enjoyable, that is a win-win-win situation. You do need healthy fats, but as Myfitnesspal keeps reminding me, I’m getting plenty without doing a lot of mayo and sour cream. To top it off, I’m not replacing them with ersatz food, which is one of my pet peeves.

Food, food, food and AT&T

I’ve put the disclaimer on here before that I am not a foodie. I am not devoted to the hedonistic enjoyment of food. However, if health and fitness are a passion, food has to be front and center of that passion. You literally are what you eat, so that has to be the focus of much of your fitness regime. With all of the concerns swirling around commercially grown and packaged food, the logical step is to produce your own as much as possible. I thought I would throw a couple of ideas at you, especially since most of us don’t have the luxury of time for doing all this if we don’t take advantage of every trick we can come up with..

Roast several chickens, winter squashes, whatever, and process all at once.

I roast a chicken, cut most of the meat off, then throw the carcass in a pot for soup. I then freeze the stock in plastic bowls, then transfer them to freezer bags. If you do 2 at once, you cut the energy cost, and freeze the meat as well as the broth. Each bag of frozen meat is one dinner ingredient you don’t have to prepare that day. If you don’t have a good size freezer, I would say it is the best investment for your families health. That and one of those vacuum sealers. Buy the bags online, it’s much cheaper.

frozen chicken broth

First I freeze it in bowls, then pop them into vacuum seal bags.

Squashes are best roasted whole, at least easiest, then you can scoop the flesh out and freeze that in individual portions. If you roast squash, chicken, sweet potatoes and other things at once, you only turn the oven on once for all of it.

sourdough starter

Isn’t the baby cute? It’s alive!

Speaking of ovens, mine is cooking sourdough starter. The lightbulb is providing the heat. I’m using the recipe from “More Bread Machine Magic.” I’ve done it before with another method, one that I can’t recall at the moment. This one uses yogurt. Is Lacto Bacillus related to yeast? I’m not sure. Isn’t yeast it’s own organism? If you use sourdough, you don’t have to keep buying yeast all the time. I don’t eat nearly the amount of bread I used to, but it is still a favorite food. I’m going to try freezing the sourdough starter to see if that works.

Salad Mania

I’ve never been overly crazy for standard lettuce salads, but I love mayonnaise salads and interesting ones. How can you resist this:

beet salad

shredded beets, carrots, apples mixed with some mayonnaise, a dab of rice vinegar and dried cranberries walnuts and pecans. MMMMmmm.

It’s sweet enough for my sweet tooth, and pretty too boot.

The next one wasn’t so good in my book, it started with all my favorite ingredients, Kale, nuts, cheese, quinoa, but the dressing called for three tablespoons of lemon juice. Too much of a good thing.

Kale salad

I don’t think I like too much lemon in my salad. Meh.

Maybe fall is bringing the foodie out in me!


If I have a notable experience with a company, I’ll post it here. Public information and opinion are what blogs are all about.I’m trying to not think too badly of AT&T, but they appear slow witted. They sold my husband the package that includes tethering. That means we can use our phones for our computers. However, you need 3g. We don’t get that at our house. When my husband called to complain, they said-“Oh, we’ll sell you a “mini cell”, which boosts your signal”. EXCEPT- it requires high speed internet to use, which we don’t have, which is WHY we wanted the tethering in the first place! My husband was telling them about wanting the tethering to combat the unreliability of satellite service. Do they not know anything about the products they push? I know, don’t answer that.

Yogurt 101

While I think commercial yogurt is a fairly safe and natural product, I do think it is one of those things that are cheaper to make yourself. Right now, in our area, milk is less than $2 a gallon. I don’t want to think about why that is, or how that is affecting farmers. I will just use lots of milk. See this previous blog if you are lactose intolerant. My husband does not like skim, but I use it for cooking, so the yogurt is fat free. My daughter gave me a yogurt maker for Christmas:

yogurt maker

handy little thing

While you don’t need one to make yogurt, I have to say it makes the whole process easy and fool proof. From the booklet that came with it, I learned a few things to make better yogurt. First, boil the milk. For some reason, this makes the yogurt thicker. If you have a large pyrex measuring cup-pyrex measuring cupIt will make doing so very easy, add the milk and nuke for about 10 minutes, till the milk climbs up the sides. I also add some powdered milk, to increase the nutritional content. Let it cool to 115-120, I use my meat thermometer to test, add some commercial yogurt, stir, and put in clean jars, either the ones from the yogurt maker or you can use canning jars and then put in a cooler with hot water, or in your oven, with the pilot light on. You just need some way to keep it very warm for 7-12 hours.

Can we all get past the romance with greek yogurt? It is simply yogurt with the whey drained off. No additional protein is added to it, it just has less water. You can do this yourself, either with store bought or your own homemade.yogurt in a strainer, with a paper towel, draining off the whey.With your own, you need a paper towel to prevent the yogurt from going through the holes. This is how much whey comes off.whey from the yogurtGreek yogurt is more expensive, since it has less water, it takes more milk to make the same 8 ounces. Making your own would definitely be advantageous.

The yogurt can then be used to make healthier alternatives for many higher fat dairy products. You can use it in place of sour cream. I am now experimenting with making yogurt cheese, to replace cream cheese. To make yogurt cheese, you fold the paper towel over the top, and put some weight on it, to squeeze even more liquid out. If you are feeling very thrifty, you can save the whey and use it in your bread recipes, in place of some of the water. Why does have some protein, but it is mostly water.

This is not a time saving activity. While it only takes about 15 minutes  to prepare, you do have to wait for it to cool off. I would just let it ferment overnight, putting it in the fridge in the morning. It isn’t difficult, but I can understand if people don’t want to spend the time.


Truth in Advertising – Real? Plain?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Smart Balance. However, their latest advertising campaign is very disappointing and somewhat offensive. I got started after hearing it on television, “fat free milk with omega-3’s.” Really? How’s that happening? In case you aren’t aware, omega-3’s are fat. So, rather than go off half-cocked (I know, even I can grow), I went to their website to see how they are making that claim.  Below is the result. Maybe a government employee or a lawyer could justify this, but I think it doesn’t pass the common sense test. Either 1 gram of fat doesn’t count as fat, so what benefit are you getting from those omega-3’s, or fat free doesn’t mean fat free, which we already know, as you can have less than one gram of trans fats and claim something is trans fat free.

My next complaint is below the food label, so scroll down.

Real fat free milk (1g total fat from Omega-3 oil blend)

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