Thanks SO much for the encouragement after yesterdays post, both here and on Facebook.
I’ve had a few friends ask me to post some of the things that I discover that we like to eat so they can try them out as well, and several people from here in Haiti express the same frustration about needing healthier options. To help you out I’ve started a new “Recipes” tab on the top of the blog. I’ll try to regularly post recipes here and then have all the links on that page so they’re easy to find. Eventually I’ll also go back through and find all my old “Food Week” posts and include those as well.
And, for those of you in Haiti (or anywhere “off the grid”) I’m going to include any specific Haiti related info when applicable. Sometimes I find certain things in certain places that others might not know about, or have figured out how to make substitutions to get the same taste with local ingredients.
To kick things off, lets talk about homemade yogurt!
I enjoy yogurt on fruit and with granola, in smoothies etc. More recently though, I’ve been wanting good, thick greek style yogurt for cooking with. You can use it in everything from baking to salad dressing. But, in Haiti imported yogurt is expensive. So, I’ve learned to make my own. I will be honest here, it hasn’t always worked, but yesterday I made a killer batch and feel like I finally hit the sweet spot, so I’m going to tell you exactly what I did.
A few things first, though. You need an “active” starter yogurt. What that means is that you need some yogurt that has live culture in it. The best way to know that it’s live is that it needs to be refrigerated, or it will say right on the package that it has live culture. The thicker your “starter” the better. You can buy a personal size yogurt and use it as your starter, then with each batch take some out and set it aside to use as your next starter. Haiti does make yogurt – the Yogurt A Go-Go stuff. You can find small bottles, and half gallon jugs. It’s more runny, but you can thicken your milk and over time each batch should get thicker because your starter will be thicker.
Concerning milk – you can use whatever kind you want, as long as it’s not “ultra pasteurized”. We get fresh milk, but I’ve successfully made yogurt here from powdered milk. I do think “thicker” milk makes thicker yogurt.
Makes two large yogurt containers – great for a family!
6 c of milk, warmed
1 c thick cold “milk” (I used 1/3 c powdered milk and 2/3 c water to make something more like cream)
1/3-1/2 c “starter”
- In a large pot warm your first 6 cups of milk. You don’t want to boil it! Just warm it to the point that you wouldn’t want to keep your finger in it. Turn off the heat.
- Stir in your cold milk, and keep stirring for a few minutes. You want to slightly reduce the temperature so you don’t “cook” your starter. What you’re aiming for is a nice, warm place to incubate your yogurt culture so it reproduces. Cooking it kills it, and refrigeration stalls it. You just want nicely warm :)
- Stir in your starer. You don’t want chunks, so use a whisk if you need to to break everything up and evenly distribute it.
- Pour your milk/yogurt into clean containers. Tightly close the lids so water cant get in.
- Fill a large pot about 2/3 full of warm water, or heat the water so it’s warm to the touch. Again, we want to incubate. Place your containers in the water bath and put the lid on. You don’t want water going over the tops, but rather to just below the lid line. You want your yogurt cozy :)
- Place the pot in the oven, or wrap in a towel. The oven is insulated so it will keep the heat in the pot. Let the pot sit for the day, and periodically check to see if it’s still warm. You should be able to touch the outside of the pot and feel warmth. If it’s getting cooler, just pop it on the stove for a few minutes, or turn on the oven for a few minutes to generate some heat.
- After about 8 hours you should have yogurt! Remove it from the water bath, dry off your containers and pop them in the fridge.
Also, you can play with your “thick” milk vs. regular milk quantities. If you didn’t get the thickness you wanted, make more thick milk next time and use less regular milk. I think the fat content does make a different when “feeding” the live starter.
Tips & Tricks: If your yogurt is thick, but not quite the thickness that you want/need, like greek yogurt, you can strain some of the liquid out. No joke! You can use a cheese cloth, or even a cotton dish towel. Just put it in a strainer and pour your yogurt into it, then let it sit. You’ll see the fluid come out and you’ll be left with thicker yogurt. If you want a type of yogurt cheese, you can strain most of the liquid out and have something that becomes spreadable.