I’ve been snapping a few photos during the last week of things I thought might be of interest to those of you who spend time in the kitchen.
We’ve been making our own yogurt for more than a year now. I bought a Tribest yogurt maker which comes with seven little jars. However, we found that we were making yogurt every night. The yogurt maker comes with two lids; one shorty that covers the jars and a taller one that will cover containers of your choice. I’ve been struggling to find a fairly large container that would fit in the tall lid but last week I found one!
I started making yogurt using the powdered culture from a health food store. It was disappointing; very runny. Homemade yogurt is not as thick regardless, because thickeners (cornstarch) are not being added.
My friend Irene put me on to using commercial plain yogurt as a starter and this has worked very well!
So I start with a gallon of milk (my new container can take a gallon). I heat the milk to a point where my honey will melt. Most people will heat the milk to past 200 degrees F to kill any supposed bacteria.
I then add honey to the sweetness we like. I should note here that we buy our honey in bulk from an apiary in Vernon, about 200 kms away. We buy our oatmeal in bulk from Rogers mill at the same time and make a day of it. If we happen to go in the winter, we spend the day x-country skiing at Silver Star.
For a big pail of honey (I think 30 kgs) we pay about $90. I re-package it in quart sealers and we store it in a cool dark place. It lasts us most of a year and it is our primary sweetener.
After the sweetened milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm (I’m sure there’s an optimal temperature but I can’t remember what it is) I add two really generous dollops of Astro Original Balkan style plain yogurt (6% fat content, no thickeners added). The key to the temperature is to make sure it is cool enough not to kill the bacteria in the yogurt starter. If it kills your yogurt starter your milk will not turn into yogurt. As you will notice we do not worry about the fat content of our dairy products. We don’t eat processed foods and very little meat so we know our diet is naturally healthy so we don’t mess around with products that have been tampered with to make them low fat/low salt/blah, blah blah.
In the spring, Katie and Irene’s daughter, Christine, did a district-winning 4-H demonstration on how to make yogurt. They will tell you that chocolate flavoured yogurt is the best (just add some cocoa) but that you can add fruit, too, as long as it is already pre-sweetened. Fresh fruit should not be added to the yogurt at this time, as the low heat as it “cultures” can grow bacteria on the fruit. Our family likes to add apple butter just before we eat it. The apple butter is made from our own apples!
Here is the yogurt mixture in our yogurt maker. Eight to 12 hours does it! Then cool in fridge or you can eat it warm. I’ve been told you can take your home made yogurt and use it as a starter for the next batch but most of what I’ve read says that each successive batch will be progressively less successful. Because yogurt keeps fairly well, we just buy the starter from the store. My estimate is that it costs us $4.00 for a gallon of yogurt.
Here’s a picture of some of my spices. I use canning jars and the white canning lids that are sold for about $4.00 for eight. My friend Lee-Ann got me on to this. The little 1/2 pint jars (wide mouth) just happen to take an entire package of no-name spices (no leftover spices in the bag). I then label the lid. Sometimes I’ll need a larger jar and then the lid travels to the larger jar, rather than having to soak a label off a jar. Lee-Ann has a spice rack that takes the jars with the lids facing out. Instant identification! Sadly, during my spice container revolution we decided to build an earthship and felt that we shouldn’t put time and effort into the pantry in the wee house. So my spices end up all higgeldy-piggeldy. But it’s still a lot better than it used to be.
Just wait until we get our new pantry!