Friday, February 4, 2011

Make your own Greek Yogurt- or cream cheese if you prefer

For about 2 months now I have been soaking all of our grain and nut products in a mild lactic acid solution before cooking. Reason for this is that it removes the phytic acid, which inhibits your digestive tract from fully absorbing the nutrients in grains and reduces the carb count. It is simple to do- 12-24 hrs before planing to cook said item I place it, water and either a small amount of cider vinegar or whey in a container and let it sit at room temperature, covered. I prefer using whey , as it seems to give the grains a better taste than cider vinegar does. Problem for most people is that they scratch their heads when thinking about where to get whey. It can be sold in powdered form, but it does not have the same impact on grains I believe- plus the process of dehydrating the product involves heat and that removes nutrients.  It is better to make your own, and you get Greek yogurt/cream cheese in the process as well.

It is simple to do- all you need is some plain yogurt, a bowl, a colander and either cheesecloth or paper towels.
I use a full fat variety with active cultures . This will work with fat free plain Dannon as well. I keep forgetting to buy cheese cloth, and I have a suspicious lack of linen dishtowels, so paper towels are the go to item. For small batches, a coffee filter will also work.
Place the colander in a large bowl, place the paper towels in the colander to line it, and then dump the yogurt on the paper towels and let sit at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours. This can be done overnight in the refrigerator ( and if it is the middle of summer in the south this might be preferable), but for the most part unnecessary.  The thing that makes yogurt such a healthy food in the first place is bacteria that has been activated by inoculation and incubation at a specific warm temperature range.

The whey is that liquid that collects or forms on the yogurt when it has sat for a few days. Most people toss it, but it is a valuable food stuff. The whey will slowly begin to drip, and you need do nothing other than allow it time to work. After about 4 hours of ignoring it , you will be rewarded with :

a sufficient quantity of whey for your weekly cooking , and:
yogurt cheese, or Greek yogurt ! Nonfat Greek style yogurt is preferable to many people, but if you make this out of full fat yogurt, it is sublime ! You can use it as you would cream cheese, but this is not my favorite way. I mix it with a little sweetener, add fruit and it tastes like you are eating thick whipped cream and fruit. Active bacterial cultures, healthful fat, nourishing ingredients and a decadent taste- what is not to love !

A word about the final volume- you will wind up with half the amount of yogurt you began with, so if you are planing on using this in a recipe, plan accordingly. You will also wind up with roughly the same amount of whey. Both should be stored in your refrigerator for about 2 weeks. If the yogurt develops a mold or a pinkish color, toss- or if it smells bad. If the whey becomes cloudy, toss it.


spunkysuzi said...

I do that too :) Lately i've been eating Quark though! Very tasty and can be used to make sweet or savory spreads/dips/toppings.

spunkysuzi said...

On a totally different subject, do you have any tips for using a dehydrator??

Di said...

I have not tried Quark, simply because I have never seen it available anywhere here . As to the dehydrator, I have had very bad luck with any that I have bought ( usually the cheap models). I have better luck just putting things on cookie sheets and letting them sit in the oven with the pilot lite on. I have a gas range, and I understand this can be an impossible thing in an electric range. The trick is to cut the foods small enough and keep everything a universal size.