the kitchen rag

Pofta Buna! Easy Homemade Raw Greek Yogurt

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Interested in making your own Greek yogurt from raw milk? Well here is a recipe so easy that the yogurt practically makes itself! I have spent a lot of time feeling discouraged by rather involved yogurt recipes. This is not one of them. Here is a list of things you will NOT need:

a yogurt maker
a cheese thermometer
a special yogurt culture

… I know, right?

milk-pan-starter

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INGREDIENTS

  • Half a gallon of raw milk, or however much yogurt you want to make
  • Two tablespoons of your favorite plain Greek Yogurt

Directions

Pour the raw milk in a pot.
1. Pour the raw milk in a pot.
2. Place it on the stove on low heat.
2. Place it on the stove on low heat.

3. Warm the milk over the stove till it reaches about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  You can heat it up higher, but you run the risk of pasteurizing the milk. I don’t know about you, but I am not interested in eating pasteurized yogurt. Read more about the health risks associated with pasteurized dairy here.

How will you know when it's 100 degrees? This is going to be your thermometer. Yes, I have a twenty dollar cheese thermometer too, but do you know how much I use it? Never! Instead I do what my mama taught me when she would make delicious handmade cheese: wash your hands and feel the milk with your pinky. It should be a little warm -  if it's hot, you burned it.
How will you know when it’s 100 degrees? This is going to be your thermometer. Yes, I have a twenty dollar cheese thermometer too, but do you know how much I use it? Never! Instead I do what my mama taught me when she would make delicious handmade cheese: wash your hands and feel the milk with your pinky. It should be a little warm – if it’s hot, you burned it.
4. I use Nancy's Greek yogurt to inoculate my first batch. But you can use any plain Greek yogurt from a reputable source. Right now, I am in the process of looking for a good heirloom yogurt starter on line. I will keep you all updated if I find one! Do you know of any?
4. I use Nancy’s Greek yogurt to inoculate my first batch. But you can use any plain Greek yogurt from a reputable source. Right now, I am in the process of looking for a good heirloom yogurt starter on line. I will keep you all updated if I find one! Do you know of any?
5. Incorporate 1 tablespoon of the Greek Yogurt into your warm milk. If you are making less than half a gallon, you can even use less. Bacteria are amazing!
5. Incorporate 1 tablespoon of the Greek Yogurt into your warm milk. If you are making less than half a gallon, you can even use less. Bacteria are amazing!
6. Mix it well.
6. Mix it well.
7. Carefully clean some glass containers, using vinegar if you are concerned about their sanitation, in which to store and ferment the yogurt.
7. Carefully clean some glass containers, using vinegar if you are concerned about their sanitation, in which to store and ferment the yogurt.
8. Sometimes, just in case the yogurt starter did not get evenly distributed, I add just a little more, maybe a teaspoon, into each jar, just to me sure they all got enough.
8. Sometimes, just in case the yogurt starter did not get evenly distributed, I add just a little more, maybe a teaspoon, into each jar, just to me sure they all got enough.
9.There are two methods for the next step.

Option A – 
If you have an oven with a pilot light, you are lucky! Place the yogurt in your oven, without turning the heat on, for 10 – 15 hours, depending on how thick you want your yogurt.

Option B – This method is more involved but it works, if you don’t have an oven with a pilot light, or if you are planning to bake or cook on the stove top in the next 10 -15 hours. One of my dearest friends taught me this method. Thank you Nancy!

10. Place the jars in a crock pot.
10. Place the jars in a crock pot.
11. Heat up enough to cover the jars.
11. Heat up enough water to cover the jars.
2. Fill the crock pot with the hot water.
2. Fill the crock pot with the hot water.
13. Place it in a warm corner in your house. Don't plug it in! Even the low setting on the crock pot is too high for the sensitive yogurt cultures.
13. Place it in a warm corner in your house. Don’t plug it in! Even the low setting on the crock pot is too high for the sensitive yogurt cultures.

If you would like your yogurt to be really firm and creamy, change the water out with some more hot water after 5-6 hours. If the yogurt turns out kind of chunky but slightly runny at the same time, it will still taste delicious, but that means that it wasn’t warm enough.

I have found that the smoothest Greek yogurt I have gotten is by using Option A above, in the oven with a pilot light. Using Option B, you have to pay close attention to make sure your water doesn’t get too cool. Test it with your pinky. If it feels warm, the cultures are thriving. If it’s lukewarm, add hot water.

14. If your home is rather cold, like mine, layer a few towels, coats, and anything else on there that will help insulate the heat and keep the milk warm. I call it my yogurt baby.
14. If your home is rather cold, like mine, layer a few towels, coats, and anything else on there that will help insulate the heat and keep the milk warm. I call it my yogurt baby.

After fifteen hours of anticipation, there it is. Delicious, creamy Greek Yogurt. This time, with frozen blueberries and cinnamon. Recently, I have been taking it to work with me and mixing it with raw honey. It is perfect for snacks or breakfast on the run! Enjoy!

 

15. Remember, for your next batch, just use two tablespoons of this culture to inoculate the milk. After a while of doing this, you might just end up with your own heirloom yogurt culture, and all the health benefits that go with it! It all depends on the yogurt culture you start with. I have made yogurt with this batch a couple of times now successfully. I have read though that the starter can get weaker since it is based on store bought cultures. I have not experienced that yet but I am sure it can happen. That is why I am on the hunt for a good heirloom yogurt starter-:)
15. Remember, for your next batch, just use two tablespoons of this culture to inoculate the milk. After a while of doing this, you might just end up with your own heirloom yogurt culture, and all the health benefits that go with it! It all depends on the yogurt culture you start with. I have made yogurt with this batch a couple of times now successfully. I have read though that the starter can get weaker since it is based on store bought cultures. I have not experienced that yet but I am sure it can happen. That is why I am on the hunt for a good heirloom yogurt starter-:)

This was originally published in my blog: The Kitchen Rag: http://kitchen-rag.blogspot.com/

Pofta Buna!: EDN’s New Recipe Column

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Diana Glasser, EDN’s new food and nutrition writer, will be sharing one recipe a week in her column, “Pofta Buna!”.

Diana Glasser has joined Eugene Daily News as our food and nutrition writer. She will give EDN readers a new recipe each week in her column “Pofta Buna!” “Pofta Buna!” is the Romanian equivalent of “Bon Apetit!” We went with the Romanian equivalent because Diana is originally from Moldova. She will also occasionally share her thoughts on health, wellness, and nutrition as well. Diana is currently earning her M.S. in Holistic Nutrition and has a blog called The Kitchen Rag.

In the first installment of “Pofta Buna!” EDN’s R.L. Stollar interviews Diana about her life, her love for food, and her interest in nutrition. Then Diana shares an easy recipe for a fantastic dessert.

A little bit about Diana

EDN:

Can you tell me a bit about growing up in Eastern Europe?

Diana:

I was born in a small rural community in the Republic of Moldova. My parents are two extremely hard working individuals, who live on a beautiful self-sufficient farm. When I was five years old I witnessed the fall of the Soviet Union. My country was in chaos and one of the poorest countries in the ex-Soviet bloc, but my family had fresh delicious food for every meal. I never grew up feeling as though we lacked anything. I learned to milk cows and goats by the time I was 7. We had a big vegetable garden and a beautiful apple orchard behind our house. My mother baked all of our bread in a big clay oven once a week. My main responsibility during summer breaks was feeding the chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, piglets, calves, etc. We never bought our food at the grocery store, but instead preferred our own homegrown, homemade meat, borsht, salad, fruit, cheese, kefir, and bread.

EDN:

What prompted you to move to Eugene, Oregon?

Diana:

I fell in love with the classics at a very young age. The world of Homer, Virgil, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Dostoevsky fascinated me. Foreign languages both spoken and dead were my favorite subjects in school. At the age of 18 my English teacher (a Peace Corps volunteer) sent me a link to Gutenberg College. It was the perfect fit. I would study the classics for 4 years and learn German and ancient Greek in the process. My application to Gutenberg was accepted, so I gave up my free ride to the State University of Moldova and booked a flight to Eugene.

EDN:

What got you interested in holistic nutrition?

Diana:

Diana found Pollan’s book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” to be an accessible and eye-opening book that was pivotal in her choice to pursue nutrition.

4 years of learning how to think critically and analyze difficult texts was an outstanding preparation for the controversial world of nutritional science. After spending a few years in the U.S. I started to feel a bit alienated from my food. Fortunately, I picked up a copy of Michel Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, an accessible and eye-opening book that was pivotal in my choice to pursue nutrition and a gateway to the wide world of alternative nutritional literature. Our culture tells us that there is little to be done about things like cancer, heart disease, arthritis, dementia, allergies, etc, except to take more and more medication. But increasingly more thought is being put into the colossal role of nutrition in health. I want to be a part of this new field of medicine so that I could help people take their health and the health of their children into their own hands, instead of being pushed around by pharmaceutical corporations and the like.

EDN:

Do you see a connection between your interest in holistic nutrition and your cooking?

Diana:

For me the two are intimately connected. My meals have become not only tastier, but more nutritious; I am more aware of the health benefits – and detriments – of the food I put on the table. One of the coolest connections is being able to cook meals tailored to nourish specific needs and occasions, like a sick person, an athlete, an expecting mother, a Celiac, a diabetic, etc.

EDN:

What is your favorite dish to cook?

Diana:

I enjoy cooking veggies. It’s fun to discover the optimal way to prepare them in order to get the highest nutritional value. My husband cooks the meat and I cook the plants.

EDN:

What is your favorite dish to eat?

Diana:

I love a good roasted whole chicken with gravy and mashed cauliflower.

EDN:

What one food do you most hate?

Diana:

I religiously avoid anything containing soy in its various forms, which is certainly not just one food! I’ll make an exception for a traditionally fermented dish, like Miso.

EDN:

Has living in Eugene impacted your views on nutrition and cooking?

Diana:

Yes, absolutely. Eugene has so many possibilities compared to most places in the country. There are a great ton of veggie and meat CSA’s. The local boutique grocery stores, like Kiva, Capella, and Sundance, have wonderful options for organic and wholesome products. The farmer’s markets are outstanding here, abundant with fresh, local, and organic produce. Even before I was interested in nutrition I loved walking to the downtown market and chatting with the hard-working, local famers. People here tend to be more interested in things like alternative approaches to health. I feel blessed to live in a place where that kind of thing is welcome.

EDN:

One more question. If you could tell everyone in the world to do one thing to better their nutrition right now, what would that be?

Diana:

Try to shop only on the periphery of the grocery store. Avoid the aisles. They mostly contain highly processed food.

And now for a quick and simple recipe…

Honey Sweetened Banana Cream Pie

Ingredients:

  • 4 overripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 tsp real vanilla
  • 7 honey-sweetened graham crackers
  • 4 tbsp butter
Recipe:
  1. Process graham crackers with butter; compress onto baking dish to form crust.
  2. Blend bananas with 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup honey, 1 tsp vanilla, and eggs; poor into pan, on top of crust.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 10 min at 375*; when done, refrigerate until cold throughout.
  4. Whip 2 cups heavy cream with 1tsp vanilla and 1/4 cup honey; pour on top of banana layer; sprinkle with cinnamon.

Pofta Buna!