This post is going to jump around a bit, but I promise the whole story will come together in the end. Bear with me.
First, let’s talk yogurt. One of the oldest cultured foods in society, it’s been called the stuff of life for more than a couple of centuries. In 500 BC, an Indo-Indian culture gave a shout out to yogurt mixed with honey as ‘the food of the gods.’ Americans, for the most part, have skewed vision of what yogurt really is. What it isn’t is those cutsie little strawberry- or lemon- or (god forbid) Boston cream pie- flavored sugar bomb cups that are in your nationwide grocery chain’s refrigerated section. Those, my friends, are most certainly NOT yogurt. I don’t care if someone wised up and actually started keeping the live cultures in them or not; there’s too much crap in them for them to be good for you. Yeah, I said it. If your yogurt comes in flavors like Creme Brulee, German Chocolate Cake or Dulce de Leche, odds are they are more chemical than healthful. And personally I like my yogurt plain, tart and Greek.
Chapter Two, a while back I stumbled onto a great blog called Little House in the Suburbs, which is one of my favorite places to camp out. These ladies are homesteading in ways that haven’t been popular in years that are suddenly becoming, dare I say it, trendy again. I try to live a simpler life, making what I can and being frugal about the rest as much as I can, but these two make me look like an amateur. And they’re so INSPIRING. Go have a peek at their place and stay a while. You’re going to love it.
Anyway, one of these amazing gals makes her own yogurt and it looked and sounded so damn simple I had to try it. For the price of a quart of milk and a container of plain yogurt I could have a monster stash and potentially unlimited supply of my own tart yogurty goodness. She had me at acidophilus.
So I tried a couple rounds of making my own yogurt and, well, she didn’t work out so good. This is one of those things, like baking, that is so simple that the cat could do it with the right equipment, but not if he doesn’t thoroughly read the directions. Which I didn’t. I killed 2 sets of yogurt starts by 1) mixing in my culture while the milk was too hot, and 2) keeping the mixure too hot. So I pitched the lot down the sink, stomped around for a bit (stupid yogurt) and conveniently forgot about it.
OK, this will all come together soon I promise. Hi, my name is Cadi and I am a small appliance addict. I have a blender, a hand mixer, two stand mixers, a waffle iron, a coffee maker, two cuisinarts, a toaster oven, a bread machine, a wine fridge, a beer fridge, a counter top dehydrator, and an ice cream maker (and I know this goes against my whole simple thriftiness mantra but half of them were gifts and honestly I use all of them regularly). And that’s just the crap that lives in my kitchen. If I had my way and the space I’d have a yogurt machine and two juicers too. The other day I was shopping for said yogurt maker on the ol’ interweb and, one click leading to another, I came across someone that used their dehydrator to make yogurt. Well, I’ll be. I dug around a little more and apparently this isn’t a recent discovery. And why not? It holds a perfectly low temperature and some nice squat jars (which I already have). And while I’m an admitted small appliance addict I love when one of my currently owned appliances has a parlor trick.
Which brings us to the home stretch of this post. Jars washed, milk cultured, and dehydrator plugged in, I set off on my final mission of making yogurt without a yogurt machine. I nervously checked the temperature about every 5 seconds for the 4 hours it sat in the dehydrator, it was like watching paint dry. Was it a success? You tell me:
That’s yogurt if I’ve ever seen it. SUCCESS! Next time I’ll let it run for more like 6-7 hours, this wasn’t tart enough for my taste buds and letting it hang out longer will make it more so, but damn if it didn’t work! Also, it’s a little more runny than I’m used to so next time I will make it in a big bowl and strain it for a bit before I jar it, instead of individually jarring it from the get-go. And this yogurt? It’s going to be strained to spoon-standing thickness and made into garlic and herb yogurt cheese, so stay tuned for that one because it’s going to rock.