When I was younger, my favorite author was Laura Ingalls Wilder, and of her books, Farmer Boy, was the one I reread most often.
Recounting the childhood of her husband, Almanzo Wilder, on an upstate New York farm, Farmer Boy is full of details about cooking from scratch and feeding a family. Together with the Little House cookbook, this book fueled my daydreams of cooking from scratch and being a pioneer girl. Fast forward 20 years, and some of those daydreams are a reality. I cook almost everything we eat from scratch, from spaghetti sauce and soup to granola and yogurt.
Yes, yogurt. While Almanzo and Laura milked cows, I buy mine from the supermarket--a local brand that makes milk the old-fashioned way.
A few months back, I started thinking about ways to cut out even more processed foods and saving money on our food bills. We're keen on granola, berries and Greek yogurt as a snack or breakfast. I already make my own granola, and I picked berries last summer and froze them. The only place to scrimp was the yogurt. We eat Greek yogurt, but it's really pricey--sometimes up to $5 or $6 a quart for the organic brand I like. I knew I had to find a cheaper alternative. When my boyfriend's mom gave us her slow cooker, I found my answer.
Using this easy recipe for Slow Cooker Yogurt (click the link for details and directions), I turn a half-gallon of milk into one quart of protein-rich Greek yogurt (I strain it overnight in the fridge over a bowl using unbleached coffee filters and a sieve) and about a quart of whey (which I use in my smoothies). The thickened yogurt easily scrapes off the coffee filters. I start the yogurt on Friday mornings, and it's ready for Saturday morning breakfasts.
We like unsweetened yogurt and use 2% milk. You can use skim, but I recommend adding a packet of unflavored gelatin to the finished yogurt to thicken it. My grandparents use skim milk and sugar-free flavored gelatin to make their yogurt.
My Slow Cooker Yogurt is slightly sweet, rich and creamy. I love it--and I'll never go back to store-bought again. And now, I'm saving at least $12 a month by making my own. (4 quarts=$24 or so; two gallons of milk=$12)
Will you try making your own yogurt? What is your favorite variety of yogurt?
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