Monday, February 22, 2010

homemade: greek yogurt

this is my favorite homemade project yet! i posted here about my favorite way to eat greek yogurt, and i continue to eat it almost every day. several of you have mentioned concerns about the price, and i couldn't agree more. it runs between $1-2 for a single serving, so i was sucking it up and buying it, but really not liking spending that much on just yogurt. anyway, i found a way to make it myself and it's really, really easy. you start with plain yogurt. i buy plain fat free organic, but any type will do. hang a small colander over a large bowl but make sure the bottom of the colander is not touching the bowl so the yogurt has room to drip. line the colander with a coffee filter (cheesecloth would probably be best, but i don't have one and don't really know where to get it. i've also used a dish towel and it worked fine. remember though that i wash my clothes in detergent that i could eat :), so if you use conventional detergent, it may not be the best idea). anyway, pour your yogurt (i do 32 oz at a time) onto the filter/towel/cheesecloth, cover tightly with saran wrap, and put it in the refrigerator overnight. when you take it out the next morning, you have greek yogurt!! i like mine really thick, but if it is too thick for you, you can take a tablespoon or so of the whey that has dripped off and add it back in. so as not to waste a good thing, remember to store your whey in a mason jar to use for soaking grains in your baked goods. it's full of healthy bacteria and acts as a digestive aid, so you can even drink it straight (sounds gross to me, but i've heard it's a good homemade tonic for stomach bugs). if you've never soaked your grains for baking before, here's the benefit according to lindsay at passionate homemaking:

"Unfortunately, whole grains contain phytic acid in the bran of the grain which combines with key minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc and prevents their absorption in the intestinal tract. This makes it more difficult to digest properly. Soaking, fermenting, or sprouting the grain before cooking or baking will neutralize the phytic acid, releasing these nutrients for absorption.

This process allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to not only neutralize the phytic acid, but also to break down complex starches, irritating tannins and difficult-to-digest proteins, including gluten. For many, this may lessen their sensitivity or allergic reactions to particular grains. Everyone will benefit, nevertheless, from the release of nutrients and greater ease of digestion."

i store my whey in the fridge in a mason jar, and it should keep for 6 months or so. i use it to soak my whole wheat flour before i make bread, muffins, tortillas, anything. i think you could probably also mix a couple of tablespoons with milk to make a substitute for buttermilk in recipes. you can also use it to make ricotta cheese, but i haven't gotten that adventurous yet. also, if you want to go a step further with the greek yogurt, i think if you let the whey separate even longer, you can make cream cheese, but i haven't done that yet either. i think i may need to use yogurt with fat in it to get it to the right consistency for that. so much experimenting with this stuff...let me know if you come up with anything good!

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