The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

March 27, 2013

Amanda Stone: Yearning for yogurt? Make some at home

JOPLIN, Mo. — Most of us can agree that yogurt is good for us, right?

Probiotics are all the rage, and yogurt is the tastiest way to move them into your body. We need a good amount of living bacteria in our colon for healthy digestion. The calcium doesn't hurt, either. I don't want to scare you off, but making yogurt is simple.

A slow cooker and a thermometer are the fanciest tools you'll need to make the tastiest yogurt you've ever had. No lie. Once you get in the habit of making your own yogurt, you'll wince at the price and long ingredient list on those little cups from the grocery store.

Try the simple slow cooker yogurt recipe below. Spoon the creamy finished product into jars or plastic cups for your own single-serving yogurt cups. Mix fruit and honey with it to make it more like the stuff from the store. I love making yogurt breakfast parfaits with layers of fruit and homemade granola. Or use your plain yogurt as a substitute for sour cream. It helps cool spicy food and tastes good stirred into soups for instant creaminess, too.

Once you have a slow cooker of beautiful homemade yogurt, you can plop it into some cheesecloth or a coffee filter and strain some of the whey if you like. The whey is the clear, yellowish liquid, which is a natural byproduct of yogurt. Straining some of the whey will make your yogurt thicker and creamier, similar to Greek yogurt.

Leave your yogurt straining in the fridge for 12 hours if you want to make yogurt cheese. It's soft, mild and spreadable, reminiscent of cream cheese. Stir in a little salt, garlic, rosemary or chives to add some pizzazz. I always use a couple of cups of my homemade yogurt to make yogurt cheese. It's creamy and delicious as a dip for veggies or as a spread for bagels and crackers.

Once you've made yogurt and cheese, all you're left with is the whey. Surely you've heard of curds and whey. This is simply referring to separating the milk solids from the liquid. The liquid is whey, and it's really good for your skin, as well as plants. Drink it straight; use it instead of buttermilk for baking or battering; or freeze it in ice cube trays. Boil oatmeal or quinoa in whey instead of water for an unnoticeable healthy add-in. Pop a cube into the blender when making smoothies for an easy punch of probiotics and calcium.

Yogurt is easy to make, and it's versatile. I recommend using the highest quality milk you can. If you can get raw milk straight from the udder, do it. Otherwise, Braum's milk works quite nicely. I use 2 percent, but I'm sure whole milk would be amazing, too.

 

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