Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Today's Task: Yogurt

Hello All,

I've decided to not dwell too much on recent miseries and mistakes and move forward.  It does none of us any good to think about what almost was or could have been.  Apparently, life does not allow for those things to be achieved for me. I guess I'm not quite accepting, but just deciding to move forward.  Someone else will get a really great barn out of all our work, but we had a big hand in saving the 110+ year old structure.  We'll take some solice with that, I guess.  The focus for us at the moment is finding Music Man a new job.

That being said, we spent so much time all through the fall working on the barn we were to buy that most of my weekend and spare time was spent with that task.  I did not get to do the things in the autumn season that make me happiest and I definitely did not make time for as much home cooking as I'm accustomed to doing.  So, today I decided to put myself to that task again.  And as we've got a stomach bug rolling through our house, I thought I'd make some yogurt from scratch to boost up our beneficial bacteria levels.  Probiotics rule.

We start this whole process with the farm fresh milk we get from our friends who run our meat and milk CSA, Field To Fork Farm.  Now, they also used to provide us with eggs, but I'm so happy to report that the girls are still laying well even with the shorter days.  We're not getting as many as during high sun, but they average about 3 eggs per day between the 5 of them, so I've nothing to complain about there.  It's probably helping that our weather has been fairly warm for this time of year, as well. 

This is how we get our milk every Sunday, two gallons, freshly milked...and yes, that is cream on the top, see the difference in color?  It makes the MOST delicious whipped cream ever!

I should mention also that I use a yogurt maker now.  If you've been reading me for a bit, you know I've done this using just a cooler and warm water, and it did work, but sometimes the "cooking gadget" is so worth it.  Kind of like the Kitchen Aid mixer I was not sure I wanted.  I was given one by a friend who had one that was his mother's and she no longer needed it.  I use it all the time and love it.  I'm not opposed to the 21st century implements when they are useful to me.  I really do find the yogurt maker such a great tool. I get to make fresh, organic yogurt, which I control the sugar content and additives of and it's so much tastier then anything you will find in the store!

So, the first step to yogurt, after making sure all your instruments are scrupulously clean, is to heat 42 ounces of milk to 180 degrees in a sauce pan.  Use a deep one, because the milk will rise up the side of the pan as it's heating.
Then, shut the heat off, remove the pan from the hot burner and let cook to 110 degrees.  I use a wooden spoon to skim the skin off that forms on top.  If you leave it and mix it back in, it won't hurt you or anything, it just makes small lumps in the yogurt.

After the yogurt has cooled to 110 degrees, take 6 ounces of unsweetened, plain yogurt and whisk into the milk.  You can also use yogurt starter, which you can buy in most health food stores or online. I've never needed it and either a jar of yogurt from my last batch or a 6 ounce cup of Stonyfield organic does me just fine.  Whisk that until smooth and well incorporated.  It's at this point you can add some flavoring if you like.  I actually prefer to do it just before serving this way, if one of the family doesn't want strawberry jam from the summer harvest,why we can just do a little maple syrup for them. Or, just plain, which is how I like it myself.  It's also helpful not to flavor if you're cooking with it.

After adding flavoring or leaving as is, you pour them into the individual serving dishes that come with the yogurt maker.  I love these, they are just the right serving size at about 7 ounces each. 
After this is done, place the 7 jars in the maker, place the lid on, set your timer and push the start button.  It's that easy!  In 9 hours I will have some of the tastiest "medicine" for our tummy troubles going and you can't beat the nutrition level either.  Good stuff! 
You can set the timer for different time periods depending on the type of yogurt you want. I like the richer, creamier Greek style, so I put mine in for 9 hours.  If you prefer the looser, more table type yogurt, you can choose 7 hours.  If you like it more like yogurt cheese, you'd leave it for 10 or so hours. I think this yogurt maker cost me about $42.00 and I've more then made that back in the homemade yogurt and health benefits from making my own.  If you're a yogurt lover like I am, and you've the means to pick one of these up (I got mine at King Arthur Flour's website) I highly recommend you take the plunge. I promise, you won't be disappointed! 

Reconnecting to my skills, ~Peacemom


Dog Trot Farm said...

It is difficult not to dwell on the past, especially with all the toil and sweat you and your family put into that wonderful old barn. Good for you for moving ahead, I realize it is not easy, and I applaude you. I have never attempted making yogurt, I thank you for the lesson. Happy New Year, Julie.

Chris said...

What a wonderful lesson in making yogurt! You are so ambitious!

It breaks my heart what you and family have been through....chin up, a new year filled with new adventures & memories, and so much to be thankful for. Hugs,