One tomato, two tomato
I think the Greek Yogurt craze is rather funny. Any one who’s been in food for a while not only knows how regular yogurt is made, but might have even tried to make strained yogurt or completely drained yogurt cheese. I made my own yogurt way back in high school after watching a Saturday morning cooking show on my local PBS affiliate. It was some international show that made making yogurt seem like “Yogurt for Dummies.” I made it in a quart mason jar buried in the side of my mother’s heated water bed. She never new it was there. Eureka! What cool stuff. I also made yogurt cheese, straining it in a dish towel, then mixing it with herbs from the yard and garlic.
I was a pretty adventurous teen. Not to date myself, but that was 25 years ago. I was big into black and white photography back then, owing to my high school photo class and my mother’s darkroom, so I’ve made this post totally old school. Also, yogurt is white, so I thought it couldn’t hurt.
Fast forward to 2011 where “Greek” yogurt has swept the nation. Yes, they make it in Greece, but also throughout the Mediterranean, Eurasian, South Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. Prices for the stuff have calmed down a bit in the US market, but it is so inexpensive to make yourself, even with whole premium organic milk (yum!) I rarely buy yogurt now except to replenish a depleted batch with fresh culture. Lately, I’ve started purchasing commercial yogurt cultures, which produce more consistent batches. And I can then use it to start new yogurt for a much longer time without loosing potency. You can usually find cultures at your neighborhood co-op. I order mine online from the New England Cheese Making Company. My 5 year old daughter can’t get enough of the homemade stuff. I pretend it’s a treat equal to ice cream, but she’s allowed to have more of it, more often. Yeah, I lie.
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Greek (Strained) Yogurt Recipe
By Tammy Kimbler
1/2 gallon whole milk
yogurt culture or 1/4 cup plain yogurt
Bring your milk to a simmer, or scalding as grandma use to say, 185 degrees if you’re keeping track. Let the milk cool to around 117 degrees. Over 120 will kill the culture, under 110 will slow down the process. Add the culture. I use a special insulated container to house my batch of yogurt, but you can use a sink full of 117 water, a cooler filled with the same water, or all manor of methods to keep your yogurt at temp (even a water bed.) Let it sit undisturbed for 8-24 hours. I go for 24 hours because I’m lazy, but this does tend to produce a more sour product. You can use lowfat or nonfat milk, but it won’t be as thick, nor will it produce as much strained yogurt. It also tends to be very sour. For a real treat, try making a scaled down version with cream. OMG.
Refrigerate your yogurt for another 24 hours, then pour into a colander lined with fine muslin, fine dishtowel or a clean handkerchief. Let strain on the countertop, unrefrigerated, for about 8 hours or overnight for Greek-style yogurt, or 24 hours for spreadable yogurt cheese. Refrigerate. Greek yogurt is great to use for breakfast, in dips, marinades, pancakes and dressings or as a good substitute for sour cream.
Known to many for my incredible ability to organize, I tackle gardening and life with equal verve. Obsessive, is that a bad thing?
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