Thursday, February 25, 2016

Yogurt of the gods, Greek gods, that is....

Have you noticed how people have completely lost their minds over Greek yogurt? There are entire walls of it in the grocery stores. Whipped, low fat, add ins etc.. Everyone is getting on the Greek yogurt band wagon because it is so high in protein. But has anyone noticed how much sugar they contain? Not to mention, most of it is made with dairy milk, which I choose not to consume. My answer to that is to make my own non-dairy Greek yogurt.

The gods were looking down on me one day when they showed me the way to a Groupon listing for my yogurt maker by Dash. It was inexpensive and it came with cute little yogurt travel cups. The ones with a separate compartment for my own add-ins! Perfect!

My yogurt maker!

Incase, you were wondering: Greek yogurt is plain old yogurt that is strained. Its's strained for several hours to get it to a thicker consistency and higher protein concentration. That's it! No big mystery there.

My simple ingredients

What I love about making my own yogurt is the absolute simplicity of the ingredients and the process itself. All you need for ingredients are 5 cups of non-dairy milk and a 1/2 cup of plain non-dairy yogurt with live cultures for you "starter.' I use unsweetened, plain soy milk. The ones by West Soy a& Trader Joe's are made with soybeans and water. Period. No additives or gums. For my starter I have tried plain soy & plain coconut milk yogurt and I have had good success with both kinds.

Equipment needed are basic: 

A double boiler, or a glass bowl that sits in a pot. After a few batches, I broke down and bought a double boiler by De-buyer. It has made yogurt making much easier for me.
A food thermometer
A whisk
A yogurt maker. In all honesty, you can do with out it. Basically you need to keep your liquid at a constant temperature for a certain amount of time. But, this device was inexpensive and it features a timer, a strainer & 4 very cute yogurt containers.

The strainer included is worth it's weight in gold!

So now that you've compiled your ingredients and equipment, let's make yogurt:

Step one: take your starter yogurt out of the fridge and let it reach room temp while you prepare your non-dairy milk.

Step two: place 5 cups of non dairy milk in a double boiler or a pyrex, heat safe bowl over a pot filled with water. Over medium heat bring water up to a boil and heat "milk" until it reaches a temp of 110 degrees Farenheit. Do not let the milk boil, or your pan run out of water!or simply put your non dairy milk in a  microwave safe bowl and heat for 60 seconds at a time until temp is reached. (note that dairy milk has to be heated to 180 degrees to break down the protein chains. you do not need to do that with non dairy milks)
My make shift double boiler: pyrex bowl on top of a sauce pan
Step three: Remove milk from heat and let it cool to 100 degrees Farenheit. This will take about 5 minutes. Do not let it get any cooler than that.

Adding in my starter.
Step four: whisk in1/2 cup of plain unflavored yogurt with live cultures. You can save half a cup of your finished yogurt to use as a starter for your next batch. It is recommended that you only do that a couple of times. After that, use a commercially prepared plain yogurt, to ensure the cultures will be strong enough.

Step five: after adding starter yogurt, pour into your yogurt maker, cover and let it sit for nine to eleven hours. Non-dairy milks require more time than cow milk.

Step six: pour warm yogurt into a fine strainer or cheesecloth and let strain for 2 hour in the fridge. This will give you the thick consistency that is Greek yogurt, but here's the deal: If it's too thick for your taste add back some of the liquid. Too thin? Let it strain longer. 

Now you have about five half cup servings of plain Greek yogurt. Or four servings and one starter for your next batch. I add fruit, granola and a little maple syrup to flavor mine. It's delicious, dairy free and I control the amount of sweetness!

The finished product!
Next time I'll share my recipe for homemade granola!

Granola with & without nuts
Granola with peanuts, raisins & mini chocolate chips!

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