Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Yogurt, The First Real Job, and NPR - Recipe

I was just past the Ramen Noodle and Cinder Block Bookshelf Stage of life.   Fresh out of University.  Money is never exactly flush at that point and you make adjustments.  I remember my first apartment being chock full of hand me down furniture and rather empty.

At work I was in a conversation, all those years ago.  Sue was a somewhat counter cultural person in my eyes.  Back then I never considered that people could make food for entertainment as well as hold down a job.  I was bemoaning the price of certain food and that I couldn't fathom how "they" could charge as much as "they" would at the supermarket for staples let alone luxuries.

This what I considered yogurt.  It wasn't "pudding" and back then it wasn't as common as it is today.  Dessert food for me in my suburban raised post-college mindset.

Clearly I needed an education.

Sue gave me one.   She said "So why don't you make the stuff, it's easy!".

She rattled off the instructions and I picked up what I needed to make it all work.  Work, it did!  Came out thick and creamy and tart.  Sue was right, it was easy.

She set me on my path of making oddball foods that most people don't consider making in their own kitchens to this day.  Now people think nothing of stopping off at the supermarket to get a pre-roasted chicken for dinner and the oven has been cold since 2009.


I continued making Yogurt for the next 10 or so years until tastes changed and money wasn't quite as tight.  The process became a dusty memory and getting good Greek Yogurt was something as easy as hitting the dairy case at the big box store.

I still buy the stuff as a treat, but not as frequently.  It became an ingredient that you buy.   Money is tight again since Consulting isn't exactly the best way to make your living.  I'd much rather be a Project Manager or IT Director with an "Office with a door" as they say in the Pentagon.

Nonetheless, the conversation came flowing back to me when I was looking at NPR's web feed the other day.  The title was "Yes, it's worth it to make your own yogurt".

You see, it's one of those things that is all about the process.   Yogurt is just two ingredients.  Milk and Culture.  Culture is just some yogurt that has active cultures in it and frankly any yogurt will do.

Just look for "Active Cultures" in it. 

"Active Cultures" are what wine makers call "Varietal".  Different Yogurts will taste different depending on the varieties of cultures added as well as the various milks used - and then there's the "fruit on the bottom".

I had some leftover Greek Yogurt from making a chicken dish the other day and thought why not.

  • Sterilize the jars.   Bring everything up to 180F.  Boiled water will help but remember to allow the jars to cool so they don't crack when you add milk.  I boiled the water in the jar and in the microwave.
  • To the sterilized jars, add 1 pint of 2% milk.  Whole will work as well, and I had as good results with Skim.
  • Heat in microwave until the milk reaches 180F.  That will kill the nasties.
  • Allow milk to cool to between 105F and 110F.  Roughly 40C.
  • Add to milk 1 ounce of culture.
  • Stir until the culture has mixed smoothly.
  • Cover the top of the mix with a cloth or loosely with a lid.
  • Allow the yogurt to "brew" for at least 12 hours.  The longer it brews, the more complex and tart it will taste.  This latest batch went for 24 hours and was wonderful.
  • Chill for 3 hours before serving.

It's a lot of waiting around.  My yogurt came out like a milkshake this weekend.   I added 2 parts yogurt to 1 part cranberry sauce leftover from last thanksgiving for a sweet and tart treat at breakfast.

Yes, it is November and Yes, I am trying to use that stuff up!

So here it is many years later and that one offhand comment is still paying off.  You never know how you will effect others, do you?

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