Friday, September 6, 2013

Yoghurt (& Variations)

One of my absolute favourite foods growing up was yoghurt. As long as it wasn't plain or banana, there wasn't anything that could keep me from eating two or three containers of Muppets yoghurt a day (please tell me someone else remembers Muppets yoghurt!). On days when I came with my mom to the grocery store, I begged for a container of cappuccino flavour the way some kids begged for cookies from the bakery - and given that my mom and grandma both love that flavour as much as I do, it wasn't a hard sell.

Because of my late-appearing dairy allergy, I haven't had one of my old favourite snacks in a long time. It never occurred to me to make my own yoghurt from scratch either, both because I wouldn't be able to taste it and because it seemed like something too dangerous to mess with in my own kitchen. Even though the bacteria in the tub of creamy goodness is healthy, it's still bacteria - and as such prone to overmultiplying and creating toxic waste. I figured that without a yoghurt maker to keep the cultured milk at the proper temperature, dealing with dairy product-manufacture (aside from ricotta) was best left to the pros.

Then I read The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making by Alana Chernila and found her well-worded, approachable-sounding method for making yoghurt from scratch at home. My grandmother had been lamenting the lack of our favourite cappuccino flavour from the grocery shelves, and (coupled with half a bag of milk nearing expiry) it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try my hand at it - after all, I didn't have all that much to lose if it didn't work out. I played with the amounts and additions right from the get go to come up with something closer to the rich, Balkan style I grew up with, and thanks to a few very warm days and an insulated bag inside my car, I found myself with a perfectly-sized batch of incredibly fresh, thick yoghurt with a slight tang that fit perfectly as a sour cream substitute as well as for enjoying plain (or, in my mom's case, with honey, cocoa and raspberries). A second batch quickly followed, with the signature coffee flavouring, and according to my grandma it was just as delicious - if not more so - than the snack of my childhood.

Cappuccino Yogurt

I’ve added some more some of our favourite flavour variations after the recipe too, so feel free to play!

Shared with  Gluten Free Fridays

Yoghurt
Makes 3 cups, 4 (¾ cup) servings
2 ¼ cups low fat milk (you can of course use whole, I only had 1% and it was fine)
1 tbsp buttermilk powder (optional, adds a bit of tang)
¼ cup skim milk powder (optional, but good to thicken yoghurt and add nutrition)
¼ cup plain Balkan or Greek yoghurt (with active cultures, no gelatin), ideally full-fat
  1. Place a large heavy pot on the stove (leave burner off) and place two ice cubes on the bottom. 
  2. Move the ice around to cover the entire bottom of the pot, allowing them to melt completely before continuing.
  3. When the ice is melted, add the milk, buttermilk powder and skim milk powder if using. 
  4. Turn the burner to medium heat and cook until the mixture reaches 180F, stirring regularly with a wooden (not metal) spoon.
  5. Turn off the heat and cool, stirring occasionally, to 110F. 
  6. Meanwhile, place the yoghurt in a small jug. When the milk has come down to 110F, stir 1 cup of the warm milk into the jug with the yoghurt until smooth, then add to the pot with the remaining milk, whisking well.
  7. Carefully ladle into a pint-size mason jar and a ½ cup mason jar, screwing on the lids.
  8. Wrap jars in a towel and place in an insulated cooler with a heating pack set to the lowest setting (I heated up a Magic Bag and used that). Set aside and do not move for 8 hours, up to 12 for a tangier yoghurt.
  9. Refrigerate 2-4 hours before serving - make sure to set aside the small jar for the next batch.

Variations:
  • Add the contents of 1-2 probiotic capsules to the mixture right before placing into jars for an extra bacteria boost.
  • Stir in 2 tbsp honey and 2 tsp vanilla extract right before placing into jars for a sweet dessert.
  • Mix 3-4 tbsp instant cappuccino mix (or instant coffee and your favourite sweetener) into the milk in the pot after removing the 1 cup for the starter mixture.
  • Mix fermented yoghurt with 3-4 tbsp fruit puree for fruity yoghurt, or lemon zest, dill and garlic for a tangy topping for savoury foods.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 102.8
Total Fat: 2.3 g
Cholesterol: 11.9 mg
Sodium: 110.4 mg
Total Carbs: 12.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
Protein: 8.3 g