Nothing Beats Homemade Greek Yogurt

Never say that you have no time.‭ ‬On the whole it is those who are busiest who can make time for yet more,‭ ‬and those who have more leisure-time who refuse to do something when one asks.‭ ‬What we lack is not time,‭ ‬but heart.‭ ~ ‬Henri Boulard

Last summer my husband came home from work excited about a video he had found on YouTube that demonstrated how to make homemade Greek yogurt from whole pasteurized milk.‭ ‬Seeing the price of Greek yogurt in the stores,‭ ‬he figured it would be great if‭ “‬we‭” ‬could make it at home at a fraction of the price.‭ ‬In his estimation,‭ ‬for the‭ ‬$1.99‭ ‬it cost for a gallon of milk,‭ ‬the yield would be about‭ ‬3‭ ‬quarts of yogurt.‭ ‬Certainly cheaper than the‭ ‬$4.00‭ ‬for two cups he was paying.

As he shared what he’d watched and invited me to watch it with him,‭ ‬I became defensive.‭ ‬Just what I needed,‭ ‬one more thing to make,‭ ‬one more thing to do.‭ ‬It isn’t as if i sit around all day like Peggy Bundy watching Oprah and Phil on the television.‭ ‬What did he think,‭ ‬I had time to spare‭? ‬Taking a deep breath and biting my tongue,‭ ‬I sat and let him enjoy his discovery of America.

Most days by the time he comes home from work,‭ ‬I am tired and ready to call it quits.‭ ‬Even cleaning the kitchen after dinner is hit or miss.‭ ‬Usually I would rather get up early in the morning and clean the kitchen first thing,‭ ‬than spend one more minute on my feet once that last dinner dish is cleared from the table.‭ ‬Thankfully though,‭ ‬on this particular day,‭ ‬he caught me in a good mood,‭ ‬and I did my wifely duty and watched the video with him.‭

We watched three videos on how to make yogurt from pasteurized whole milk and then how to separate the curds and whey making Greek yogurt and I was hooked.‭ ‬Not being fond of plain yogurt I didn’t care to eat it,‭ ‬but because it was related to one of my passions,‭ ‬making food from scratch,‭ ‬I set to making some that very night.

Following the directions given in the video was easy and by the next morning there were eight cups of wonderfully creamy,‭ ‬tantalizingly sour yogurt in the bowl I had placed in the garage covered with blankets.‭ ‬A few hours in a jelly bag to separate the curds from the whey,‭ ‬and viola‭! ‬Greek yogurt.‭

Of course,‭ ‬I didn’t want to stop there,‭ ‬so I took half of the Greek yogurt out of the jelly bag,‭ ‬put it in a bowl for my husband,‭ ‬and left the remaining yogurt in the jelly bag all day with a plastic bag over it to keep out dust and any critters that might fly by.‭ ‬By evening we had the smoothest yogurt cheese I have ever tasted.‭ ‬Even when kept in the refrigerator,‭ ‬this creamy cheese can be taken out and spread on ham,‭ ‬bread,‭ ‬or just about anything and it is smooth as butter kept at room temperature.‭

Making yogurt is super easy and takes barely any of your time to prepare.‭

4+ Quarts of finished yogurt coming out of my make-shift yogurt proofer

4+ Quarts of finished yogurt coming out of my make-shift yogurt proofer

Greek Yogurt

Ingredients:

8‭ ‬Cups Whole Pasteurized Milk (I have used 2% Milk but the yield is considerably less)
1/4‭ ‬-‭ ‬1/2‭ ‬Cup Plain Yogurt‭ (‬Greek or regular work fine‭)

Note:‭ ‬The‭ ‬1/4‭ ‬-‭ ‬1/2‭ ‬cup of plain yogurt is only necessary for the first batch of yogurt you make.‭ ‬Once you have a starter batch done,‭ ‬you can reserve‭ ‬1/4‭ ‬-‭ ‬1/2‭ ‬cup of your finished product to use in the next batch.

Step‭ ‬1:

Pour milk into an‭ ‬8‭ ‬Cup Pyrex measuring cup or other microwave safe bowl.

Step‭ ‬2:

Heat milk in microwave on high for‭ ‬18‭ ‬to‭ ‬25‭ ‬minutes until it reaches a temperature of‭ ‬175°‭ ‬to‭ ‬180°‭ ‬farenheight.‭ ‬The length of time needed will depend on the make and model of your particular microwave.

Step‭ ‬3:

Remove from microwave once it reaches desired temperature and let sit on counter until it cools to a temperature of‭ ‬110°+/-.‭ ‬This can take anywhere from an hour to nearly two depending on the temperature of your house.  A quicker way to cool the milk is to pour the milk into a bowl.  Place the bowl in a sink with a few inches of cold water.  Once the bowl is in place, fill the sink up to the rim of the bowl with ice.  It should take between 10 and 15 minutes for the milk to cool.  Watch very carefully as it can get below the target temperature quickly.

Step‭ ‬4:

Once the milk has cooled to‭ ‬110°,‭ ‬stir in‭ ‬1/4‭ ‬-‭ ‬1/2‭ ‬cup of plain greek yogurt and whisk until completely combined.

Step‭ ‬5:‭

Pour yogurt base into quart jars and cover.

Step‭ ‬6:‭

Place yogurt in a warm place for‭ ‬12‭ ‬to‭ ‬18‭ ‬hours.‭ ‬I found placing the jars wrapped in several towels to hold in the heat in our garage works great during the summer because the temperature is at least‭ ‬10‭ ‬-‭ ‬15°‭ ‬higher than the outside temperature.‭ ‬When it is cooler out I put a glass cutting board on the counter,‭ ‬cover it with a thick towel,‭ ‬slip a heating pad in between the towel folds,‭ ‬place the jars of yogurt on the towel,‭ ‬cover with a large stock pot and wrap the stock pot with two more towels.

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Step‭ ‬7:

After‭ ‬12‭ ‬hours the yogurt is ready.‭ ‬Place in refrigerator to thicken or for Greek yogurt place the yogurt in a jelly bag or strain through several layers of cheese cloth and let set for one to two hours.‭ ‬The finished product will be much thicker‭ ‬–‭ ‬Greek yogurt.

Step‭ ‬8:‭

If you want to make yogurt cheese rather than yogurt,‭ ‬just put the finished yogurt in the jelly bag or cheese cloth‭ (‬reserving a‭ ‬1/4‭ ‬-‭ ‬1/2‭ ‬cup for next use‭) ‬and let drain for an additional‭ ‬12‭ ‬to‭ ‬18‭ ‬hours.‭ ‬The result will be a spreadable creamy cheese.

As I said,‭ ‬very little time away from your day,‭ ‬but the results are awesome.‭ ‬I have even acquired a taste for plain yogurt‭ – ‬especially with homemade granola.‭ ‬Just goes to show that although I wasn’t looking for yet another project or did I ask for one more thing on my plate,‭ ‬it’s not so much that there isn’t enough time,‭ ‬as there might just not be enough interest to do something.

I’m so glad I chose to have an open mind to trying something new and now make fresh homemade yogurt at least once a month‭ – ‬it keeps for at least that long.‭ ‬Oh,‭ ‬and when whole milk goes on sale or say I find some being clearanced out for‭ ‬$.99‭ ‬a gallon,‭ ‬I just freeze it until I’m ready to make it.‭ ‬Now we never have to worry how much the stores want for their designer Greek yogurt’s or fancy yogurt cheese and for this I am‭ – ‬Simply Grateful.

Quick Fix Monte Cristo

Hard work is often the piling up of the easy things you neglected to do. – Unknown

The weather did not cooperate today, so the garden will have to wait at least another day. The plum tree though is well on its way to full bloom.

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Instead of dodging raindrops outside, I decided to concentrate on finishing up a ton of little projects that have been accumulating since Christmas. Spring is the ideal time for deep “spring cleaning” so today was the day.

The first chore on my never ending to do list I wanted to get done was a trip to St. Vincent De Paul to drop off a carload of donations. It amazes me how much crap one can accumulate in a short period of time. I made a trip like this just before Christmas, and now I’ve got twice as much stuff to get rid off. Clothes, books, purses, shoes, bags, appliances, dishes, Christmas decorations, and even some exercise equipment — and that was just the first load. Next week I’ll fill the car again and maybe free up some extra space for my pantry.

Next on my list was a clothes basket full of ironing. I swear I let it pile up until there isn’t a clean shirt for my hubby to wear. Does anyone iron anymore?  None of my neighbors do.  How do they manage that?  Even hanging clothes outside on the line I need to run an iron across nearly every shirt and pant that I bring in.  At least it’s not as bad as when my grandmother used to iron — she ironed underwear and sheets.  I don’t take it that far.  It took most of the afternoon, but now it’s done until I clean the winter clothes out of the closets for the summer — yes that was on the to do list too, but I needed to enjoy the moment, albeit temporary, of an empty ironing basket.

All afternoon I checked little things off my list and really thought I was making headway, until I looked at the clock and realized I had only 30 minutes before dinner was supposed to rear it’s ugly head.

What to make? Although I don’t like to make a habit of serving sandwiches for dinner, the Monte Cristo sandwich is definitely filling enough to squeak by as a meal.

The traditional Monte Cristo is ham, turkey, and cheese dipped in egg, of course, as usual I did not have all the ingredients. Not being one tied to a recipe, I took all the lunch meat and cheese out of the fridge and viola! dinner.

Monte Cristo Sandwiches on the griddle.

Monte Cristo Sandwiches on the griddle.

Monte Cristo Sandwiches

  • Bread or Rolls
  • Lunch meat – I used ham, salami, bologna, and pastrami
  • Cheese – traditionally it calls for cheddar and swiss. I used spicy Fiesta Jack and Provolone
  • 3 Eggs
  • Milk
  1. Assemble sandwiches making sure to place the lunch meat in between two slices of cheese.
  2. Dip completed sandwich in egg mixed with milk.
  3. Cook on griddle until cheese melts and bread browns.
  4. Serve with maple syrup.

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I was the only one who ate the sandwich with syrup. Hubby likes his plain, Zeb eats his with ranch dressing, and Grace uses thousand island dressing. Served with a side of homemade French fries and a salad it was dinner.

Some days it’s nice not to spend hours in the kitchen making dinner and yet serving something that is hearty and fulfilling, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.