January 10, 2008

My Cookbook

I'm making yogurt today and currently waiting for the milk to cool down. I've been making yogurt for years. I bought my yogurt maker at a second-hand store and it makes a 1/2 gallon milk quantity of yogurt.

Here is the recipe that consistently works for me. Heat the milk to about 180 degrees. I do this in the microwave in a Pyrex glass bowl. Then let it cool down to 100-112 degrees. Mix in the starter and pour into jars in yogurt maker.

Hmmmm ... starter .... It used to be you could buy almost any plain yogurt in the store to use as a starter. But today, most yogurts have additives which seem to inhibit it's thickening. Some additives, like gelatin, will work, but it seems to take longer for the milk to firm. Your best bet is is yogurt in health food stores, but still read the labels. You can also find powdered starters, usually in a refrigerated section. If you use the powdered starter just follow the directions.

For a quart of milk I use a few tablespoons of yogurt stirred into the cooled down milk. Once you make yogurt, you can use your own homemade yogurt for starter. I always plug in my yogurt maker, with the empty jars in it, when I begin the yogurt making process for it to start heating. I'll put my yogurt starter in it at this time too, in one of the jars, to take off its chill.

When the starter is mixed into the cooled-down milk, pour the mixture into the jars in the yogurt maker, place the cover on the yogurt maker. Start checking after a few hours. Mine usually sets in 3-4 hours. When I start a fresh batch with the powdered starter it takes longer. Look for a slight firmness of the milk. It will firm up a bit more in the refrigerator. The shorter the time, the sweeter it is. If you forget and let it incubate longer, it gets tart, but still tastes better than store-bought yogurt.

I love the taste of plain homemade yogurt. You can add jam, fruit, frozen juice concentrate, maple syrup, wheat germ, ground flax seed ... whatever you like. Whenever a recipe calls for sour cream or mayonnaise I'll sometimes use yogurt. It can also be substituted for sour milk or buttermilk.

You want the good bacteria that yogurt provides - a 'live', active yogurt with its acidophilus, thermophilus, and bulgaricus. 'Friendly' bacteria helps aid food digestion. Yogurt is a predigested form of milk and it tends to 'crowd out' bacteria associated with indigestion. Lactose intolerant people can often eat yogurt.

When I was a kid, I was sick and on antibiotics a lot. My homeopathic grandmother told my mother to keep feeding me yogurt. "Thank you Grandma." Antibiotics kill the good bacteria along with the bad. Yogurt boosts the immune system and has a natural antibiotic effect.

When in Wisconsin we used to visit Monte's aunt and uncle who lived on a dairy farm. The yogurt Aunt Ruby made from their fresh milk she called "filabunk" (sp?). I brought home some starter from her and used it for awhile.

The cookbook on the stand behind the yogurt maker in the above picture is a cookbook I wrote 12 years ago. You can order a copy from me for $20 or from Amazon.

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