My kids eat a lot. No really, A LOT. The other night, I pulled out a package of hot dogs for them, and some chicken for us....between the three of them, they ate all 10 hotdogs in the package. Brahm won with FOUR.
We got hooked on Greek yogurt a year or so ago, and started buying it to eat for lunch. Don't get me wrong--I rationed the yogurt--we'd share two 6 oz. Chobani's between the 5 of us. But we were still spending anywhere from $6-10 a week on it! One day, my friend told me how she makes her own yogurt--and she even flavors it with coffee! I was intrigued. That day, we bought a $40 yogurt maker on Amazon. We'd easily pay it off in a month or two!
It took a few weeks to perfect the yogurt, but we finally figured it out. Here is how WE make it, but I'm guessing that it may be a bit different depending on the size and model of your maker. Also, I know there is a way to do it without--just by using your oven, but we opted for the maker because we use our oven almost every day. Anyway--here's the process:
1. Heat up 4 cups (for MY maker, but there are larger ones available) of milk (you can use any kind, from skim to whole. We have found that we like Braum's the best! Also, the higher milk fat you use, the less you need to cook it....we usually use 1% or whole, because that's what we have on hand...). Add 1 1/2 t. gelatin (again, bought ours on Amazon) to the milk and whisk every few minutes until it reaches a temperature between 160-170 degrees F. Don't boil it.
2. After it has reached that temperature, remove from heat, and add flavorings. We always just add about 1/4 c. honey and 1 tsp. pure vanilla, and that way it is a little sweet, and we can add fruit/granola later. Whisk milk again and then set in fridge for 2-3 hours until it has cooled down to around 50 degrees. (If it is too hot, it will kill the live culture that you'll be adding next).
3. Take milk out once it's cooled and add 1/4 c. (approximately) of plain yogurt WITH live cultures. Sometimes I have to buy a container, but usually I just reserve a little bit of whatever is leftover from our previous batch and add it in. Whisk together.
4. Pour into a container, and put into the yogurt maker. (Our maker came with individual 6-oz glass jars, but I prefer to use a large crock, that way I can strain it to make it thick, like Greek yogurt.) Cook for 18-24 hours. (I usually shoot for about 21 hours.)
5. Once it has cooked, dump the yogurt into a strainer covered in a tea towel or muslin cloth to strain it. I have a large tea towel that I fold up so that there are several layers, then pour in the yogurt to strain out the whey. I leave that in there for 20-30 minutes. If you want it runnier, you don't have to strain it. If you leave it in TOO long, it will be cheese. :-) Once you have strained it, pour into a container and refrigerate until you're ready to eat it. I like to put it in the fridge for at least a couple hours, that way it sets up nicely.
It seems complicated, I know. But really, once you do it several times, it becomes easy and seriously, saves a LOT of money! Once recipe costs me $1 at the most. If I had to do anything differently, I would have bought an 8-cup maker, rather than a four....but oh well. We love the yogurt--and the extra savings!
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