Posts Tagged ‘homemade’

Yogurt and Sprouts: Am I turning into a Granola Head?

Fresh yogurt I made from goat's milk. Tastes amazing when you mix 2/3 c. yogurt  with a couple of spoonfuls of raw oatmeal, 1/4 c. of fresh blueberries, and a fresh diced peach, nectarine or strawberries!

Fresh yogurt I made from goat’s milk. Tastes amazing when you mix 2/3 c. yogurt with a couple of spoonfuls of raw oatmeal, 1/4 c. of fresh blueberries, and a fresh diced peach, nectarine or strawberries!

For the past few weeks I’ve been experimenting with yogurt-making.  Oddly, I found that I couldn’t get the yogurt to “take” when I went back to my hometown, even though I made it the same way as I do in Maine – – or so I thought.  I finally realized that a growing yogurt culture’s worst enemy is air conditioning.  Thanks to a/c, the room temperature in my hometown’s house was simply too cold to get the yogurt to develop, and I was left with a thinner texture like kefir in the best of cases, and sour milk when it really went wonky.  I don’t have air conditioning in my house in Maine; it’s hard to justify the expense and electricity usage of a/c for the 8 total days a year when it’s really hot.  Some days it doesn’t get even hot enough for the yogurt to set on our screen porch. That’s when I park my car in the sun and put the yogurt in the back of our Subaru for 8 hours.  That really does the trick, and the yogurt comes out perfectly – – silky smooth, creamy, rich, and barely tart.

Now that I’ve “mastered” yogurt, I’ve decided to move on to sprouts.  Sprouts have all sorts of wonderful properties.  Since they are grown indoors, without soil, they are not weather-dependent and they aren’t messy.  You don’t have to worry about insect infestation, since they are grown in a mason jar (the lid is capped with either screen material or cheesecloth).  You can make small batches at a time (1 – 2 tablespoons of alfalfa or radish seeds goes a long way). Nutritionally speaking, a cup of alfalfa sprouts has only 25 calories and contains 3 grams of protein, 11% daily requirement of Vitamin C and 4% daily requirement of iron.  Radish sprouts have 57 calories per cup but nearly 25% the RDA of Vitamin C.  And the organic seeds are cheap.  They taste great in wraps or sandwiches.

I simply typed in “how to grow sprouts” on both Google and YouTube and came up with several good instructional webpages and videos.

My sprouts, growing in mason jars. Top is alfalfa, bottom is radish.

My sprouts, growing in mason jars. Top is alfalfa, bottom is radish.

So why aren’t more people clamoring for grow-your-own sprouts?  Unfortunately, some seeds carry bacteria, and in warm, humid conditions,  e.coli, Listeria, and salmonella can grow quickly on infected seeds.  According to studies the risk of contamination, though small,  is not related to whether the sprouts are home-grown or store-bought.  (The CDC recommends boiling the sprouts to kill bacteria, but in doing so you would not only kill all nutritional value of the sprouts, you would be left with a big inedible mush.)

Unfortunately I had not read about the threat of sprout food poisoning until well after I had tasted my radish and alfalfa sprouts.  Thankfully I didn’t die.  I didn’t even get sick.  And they were quite tasty!  Did I just get lucky?  Any epidemiologists out there who might want to weigh in on the advisability of growing and consuming one’s own sprouts?

P.S.  More than 13 years ago, I once really did almost kill my four children and my brand-new son-in-law with salmonella poisoning (not from sprouts), but that’s another story for another day.

Another view of the sprouts.  This is day 2.  I will harvest them on day 3 (the radish sprouts) and day 4 (the alfalfa sprouts).

Another view of the sprouts. This is 3. I will harvest them on day 4 (the radish sprouts) and day 5 (the alfalfa sprouts).


Close-up:  alfalfa on the left, radish on the right.  The mason jar lids have cheesecloth to allow for good drainage.  I swish them with fresh water and drain 2x a day, every day.

Homemade Yogurt

My husband jokes that I am turning into a hippie homesteader but I have to say, I really enjoy all the little projects that result from so many new and positive learning experiences in my goal of living more consciously and conscientiously.

I recently came across a homemade yogurt recipe by Claire Criscuolo, owner of Claire’s Corner Copia vegetarian restaurant in New Haven, Connecticut, located across from Yale University’s old campus on the corner of  Chapel St. & College St.  On her website’s FAQ page,  she lists a recipe for homemade yogurt:

If you eat 2 cups of yogurt a day in your family, you will save $1,000.00 a year by making your own – and, you’ll save hundreds of plastic cups a year, too.

Makes about 16 cups

1 gallon organic whole or 2% milk

2/3 cup plain, organic yogurt

Heat the milk in a large, uncovered 8 quart pot over medium-high heat, without stirring, until the milk foams and rises about half way to the top of the pot, about 10 minutes. When the foam reaches about half way to the top of the pot, remove from the heat. Pour the heated milk into a large bowl (a tempered glass or pottery bowl is best). Set the bowl on your counter to cool until you can insert your “baby” finger into the center of the bowl of milk, just comfortably, for 10 full seconds. This will take about  20 minutes or so, depending on how cold it is in your kitchen. Measure the 2/3 cup yogurt into a separate bowl. Measure 1/2 cup of the heated milk into the bowl of yogurt. Stir well to mix. Pour this yogurt mixture into the large bowl of heated milk, using a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl clean. This is the point when Sadie said a blessing over the bowl, so I always do, too. Cover the bowl with a dish large enough to fit the bowl without touching the yogurt. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel, then a thick bath towel. Leave the wrapped bowl on the counter for 8-10  hours, (you can make your yogurt  before you go to bed or before you leave for work) whichever is more convenient for you, without disturbing. After 8-10 hours, remove the towels but leave the dish on. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, but it’s ready to eat after 8 hours. Before enjoying, remove about 2/3 cup of the top layer and spoon this into a jar. Cover the jar and refrigerate for up to two weeks. This will be your yogurt “starter” for your next batch. You may now begin eating and enjoying .

I just had to try it.  It was fun, easy and successful, but not without caveats.  Instead of a letting the ingredients “set” in a large bowl, I used a giant Bell jar (the kind used for home pickling and canning).  Because of the tall, narrower shape of the jar (I used a 1/2 gallon size), I found that the first 2/3 of the finished product was a bit on the thin side, more resembling kefir (but much more delicious).  The bottom 1/3 of the Bell jar was indeed a thicker, yogurt-like consistency.  So next time, I will be more exacting in following the directions, and use a very large, very wide bowl to make my yogurt.

Also, I used goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk –  – this has a higher fat content but it’s oh, so delicious and healthy.  Also, it was not as tart as store-bought yogurt, but this could be because I used goat’s milk – – I haven’t experimented enough to know for sure.

Not only is it more economical to make yogurt rather than buy it, as Claire suggests; it is so much more delicious!   For those who consume only chalav yisrael dairy products (which are hard to find in smaller Jewish communities, not to mention extremely pricey), this yogurt recipe is really handy.  It’s easy to make a parfait with fruits like strawberries, blueberries and bananas, or as a base for tasty smoothies.  It’s a great way to benefit from protein and calcium.  There are no additives or chemicals, and it’s so much fresher than anything you can buy in the supermarket.  So here’s a shout-out to Claire . . . thank-you for sharing this wonderful recipe on your website!