Yogurt is for dessert too.
After a 15+ year hiatus, I am again making yogurt. Easy, tasty, low-tech. Did I say easy? Since I much prefer eating yogurt to drinking milk, I have been making at least two quarts of yogurt a week. Love it! As was explained here: heat the milk (if the milk is pasteurized, I only heat up to 120 F; but I do heat up to 180F when using raw milk). Add milk to a large mason jar with a couple of tablespoons of plain yogurt, shake the jar. Put it in a small cooler overnight with a mason jar full of very hot water. Go to bed. Voila: yogurt for breakfast. I love it.
You can make it in big jars, in small jars, in tiny jars… For all of us who are compulsive jar saver, now there IS an excuse to save to save more jars…
I even bought some “Swiss-style” yogurt. It listed 4 kinds of active cultures (Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and L. bifidus and I can’t remember the 4th – how geeky, is that?). It turned out to be less tart than the other yogurt I was getting. I am now keeping an eye out for Bulgur-style yogurt, which I remember as really really creamy and which I think contains – what else? - L. bulcaricus. I tried to add a little cream or half and half to my yogurt, and while it made it richer it still was not that wonderful Bulgarian yogurt (maybe it exists only in my memory?). I guess next time I am at a WholeFood or Natural Store, I’ll have to investigate the yogurt case. So here I am: collecting pretty china tea cups, AND yogurt cultures … See what life in the country can do to a (fairly) level-headed girl?
But then it hit me – I mean about getting creamy yogurt: strain it! It’ll give me a Greek-style yogurt. It worked! Delicious indeed (although not Bulgarian).
More importanly it was a pretty good success at a recent picnic I put together. I used Tristar strawberries, picked in the garden last summer and frozen, with a little sugar and vanilla bean to make my fruit base, combine it with yogurt in small canning jars. And man, I thought I made good ice-cream, but based on the reactions, I obviously need to be making even more yogurt. So any way, here is the recipe for Greek-Style Yogurt with Vanilla Bean & ‘Tristar’ Strawberry Compote – as much as this is a recipe!
Greek-Style Yogurt with Vanilla Bean & ‘Tristar’ Strawberry Compote
For the yogurt
- 1 very scant quart whole pasteurized organic milk, as high quality as possible (not ultra pasteurized)
- 2 tablespoons of Swiss-style, live plain yogurt
- a scant 1/4 cup organic half & half
Combine half & half & yogurt, heat up to 120 F. Put yogurt in a quart jar, add the warm milk mixture. Cap and shake well. Put in small cooler touching a quart mason jar filled with near boiling water. Let rest undisturbed for 8 hours.
Line a fine-mesh sieve with a clean white muslin towel or butter muslin over a bowl. Add the yogurt, and let drip (in the fridge) for half an hour. Scoop out the much thicker yogurt. You may save the whey for other uses such as to replace of water in pizza dough or in soup.
For the compote
- ‘Tristar’ Strawberries, or other ripe and flavorful strawberries, fresh or frozen
- sugar to taste (maybe 3 Tablespoons by cup of berries ?)
- 1 vanilla bean
Heat the berries gently until they start to give off their juice. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes until tender. Half the vanilla bean, scrape off the seeds, and add them to the strawberries along with the vanilla bean pod. Add the sugar, stir to dissolve and cook another 3 minutes. Remove the berries and reserve. Bring the juice to boil, and boil gently for a few minutes until syrup is slightly thickened. Chill the berries and syrup.
Have ready 1/2 pint mason jars. Spoon some cooled strawberries at the bottom, add yogurt almost to top of jar. Spoon some of the cooled syrup on top. Screw top on and refrigerate for a couple of hours – up to a few days. Serve with butter cookies or other very simple cookie.
Note for the locavore log: milk and cream from Trickling Springs in Chambersburg, PA & strawberries from the garden.