Ahh, vacation. I just got back from an epic roadtrip in California with my friend Natalie. We took the trolley to Tijuana for a day, then rented a car and drove from San Diego to Santa Cruz and back, stopping for many adventures along the way (see: butterflies, whale watching, being offered drugs in an alley in Mexico, not accepting said drugs in Mexico, skydiving, hiking, hanging with townies, and so on). It’s really amazing what a weeks worth of fresh air and glorious views will do to a girl. I came home refueled with tons of energy, unfortunately at midnight… After jumping right back in to a 7 am day at work the next day, I got home from work and worked around the house all night making homemade broth, then soup, then unpacking everything and cleaning. And no, incase you are wondering, that is not normal. Though I wish it were. Since then I’ve still been on an high energy kick and am feeling great. I finally got the chance to make that homemade yogurt, so listen up I’ll tell you all about it.
As much as I want to tell you that my first time making yogurt was a breeze and as the recipe suggests, anyone can do it, I beg to differ. So you know, I do have a delicious batch of strawberry yogurt in my fridge at this very moment, but how it got there is not the greatest. My first problem arose after I had already started heating up the milk and realized that the recipe calls for the oven to be set at 100 degrees F, but mine only goes to 170 at the lowest. I figured that if I shortened the cooking time from 6 hours down to 4.5 or 5, it would be completely fine. I also didn’t have enough small jars to portion it out into single servings like the recipe did, so I just used one large jar full of plain, and a smaller one that I mixed in some strawberry preserves. My mom made these preserves with fresh strawberries from her garden, but the mixture didn’t “gel”, as she says, when they were cooking, so now she calls it “strawberry ice cream topping.” Regardless, it’s delicious. And I digress…
When I took the yogurt out of the oven it did seem to still be quite a bit loose for yogurt, but figured it would set up as it cooled. It did somewhat, but not to the extent that I wanted it to. It was more like yogurt soup. Bleh. So I picked up some cheese cloth and strained each batch separately. This worked gloriously, but depleted a significant amount of volume from the original batch taking me from 4 cups to about 2. I decided to mix them together so I have one decent sized container of strawberry yogurt. And it is delicious. So it was worth it. Now, on to life lessons.
What I will do next time:
1. Use the beautiful invention that is the internet and find out how I can adjust the cook time to my 170 degree oven.
2. Follow the recipe’s portion size directions.
3. Always have cheesecloth on hand.
4. Buy said cheesecloth to have on hand because I already used it all.
So, yes, it was an adventure. Did I enjoy it? Mostly. Am I proud of myself for finding a solution? Yes. Do I get to eat yummy homemade yogurt for the rest of the week? You bet.
Also, here’s a little snapshot of my view of the literal edge of the country. Pretty rad, eh?
Yogurt, from the Homemade Winter Cookbook
1. Heat 4 1/2 cups of milk (this may be cow or goat milk) to exactly 100 degrees F, then add 3/4 cup plus 1 T of the freshest organic yogurt.
2. Pour this mixture into small clean jears. You can also first season the milk mixture with something tasty (such as honey) or first fill the jars with something (such as chopped figs). Remember to save 1 jar of plain yogurt for the next batch.
3. Place all the jars, uncovered, on a baking sheet and place it in the oven, preheated to 100 degrees F. Let them sit there for 6 hours, without opening the oven. I do this before I go to bed.
4. Remove the jars from the oven, put the lids on, and place them in the fridge to thicken and cool completely. Store for about 1 week.