The other week when Molly suggested that yogurt could be made in a slow cooker I was inspired. Finally a way to make yogurt without an official yogurt maker or diligent minding of temperatures and times. I had to put in a hold request for the book at the library, and in the meantime took to the Internets in search of instant gratification. I found this (thinking it was what Molly had done) and decided to give it a go.
Sunday, July 03, 2011
And... it worked! For the most part. The recipe, as written, resulted in "too runny" yogurt for my taste. So, I had to take the extra step of straining off the watery whey first with a coffee filter and then with a cotton flour sack dishcloth. I got some delicious, thicker - but not super thick - yogurt that went great with a big dollop of rhubarb sauce.
I was just a little disappointed at the volume loss, time, and mess resulting from draining off the whey, so when the first batch of yogurt was gone I tried again. This time around I decided I would add in some powdered milk at the point where the recipe says to put in the starter yogurt. Unfortunately, I absentmindedly set the slowcooker to one of the high settings instead of one of the low settings, and consequently ruined the milk before even getting to test the thickener.
Third time's a charm... right? Not for me. I heated the milk. Mixed in the starter and some powdered milk. Incubated it in a cozy towel blanket overnight. And after all that lovin' what I woke to the next morning was thicker, yes, but of the strangest consistency. Gluey? You'd scoop out a spoonful and it would just slip right off in a blob leaving no residue on the spoon. Gross. Not yogurt. I couldn't stand it in my mouth.
The two quart jars of homemade, organic yogurt sat in the fridge for the better part of a week. Untouched. Bumming me out. If I didn't come up with a way to use them quick they'd spoil and I'd have to dump them anyway. They were very nearly given to the chickens where at least they'd be eaten. I couldn't bear to send them down the drain.
You would't have thought that a kitchen misadventure from three years ago could save the day but then... unbearable, gluey yogurt meet awful strawberry freezer jam. This jam had turned out so sickeningly sweet that we couldn't stand to eat it. It wasn't jam, really, it was more like an ice cream topping. The berries were tough and chewy like candy. But, like the yogurt, I couldn't throw it away. So it waited for years in the icy purgatory of our garage freezer.
In the days that the yogurt sat patiently in the fridge for my verdict I tried to come up with a use for it where its strange consistency might be of some help rather than a liability. My final conclusion... popsicles. They'd either seem more creamy or the freezing would actually mask the yogurt's flaw.
Low and behold, these are really quite good! The jammy berries are a nice feature. Their chewy texture kept them from becoming brittle and icy. The tart, milky yogurt is cut nicely by the sweet and fruit from the jam. They're creamy. And good. I think we have a "Yes" where everywhere we looked we were surrounded by "No."
So, here's to not tossing out all that time, effort, and good, solid ingredients. Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles to the rescue. And maybe one of these days I'll succeed in making the homemade yogurt of my dreams.