By Amanda Stone
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.
1/2 gallon milk
1 cup plain yogurt, room temperature
1/2 cup dry milk (optional)
Pour the milk into the cooker and turn on high. Whisk in the dry milk now if you're using it. Heat the milk to 180 degrees or until it starts to bubble around the edge. This will take 2 to 3 hours. Turn off the cooker and let the milk cool to around 116 degrees, then stir in the plain yogurt. Replace the lid and wrap the Crock-Pot with a bath towel, making sure to cover the lid. The yogurt is ready to put in the fridge after 6 hours. It gets thicker and tangier with more time. I like to let mine incubate for up to 12 hours.
Strain the yogurt through two layers of cheesecloth placed in a strainer over a bowl if you want thick, Greek-style yogurt. Save the whey left in the bowl for later use.
Reserve a cup of your yogurt to use as the starter for your next batch.
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup minced yellow onion (about half a small onion)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt and cornstarch until well-blended.
In a small (1-quart) saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring frequently, until just golden-brown, 4 to 5 minutes (reduce the heat if the onion seems to be burning rather than browning). Add the curry powder and cumin and cook, stirring, 15 to 20 seconds. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the yogurt mixture, and stir until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, or to taste.
Drizzle the sauce over steamed vegetables and sprinkle with cilantro.
Recipe from finecooking.com
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