Sunday, June 3

Home-made Yogurt and Yocheese

Does anybody reading this know anything about making yogurt?

I have this yogurt maker.


As well as a yocheese maker (the official def is "Yogurt cheese is low-fat alternative to cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream"--the reviews are really good).

I've never used them!

I'd really like to use them. I know that yogurt has carbs... well heck. My kid loves yogurt and could lose some weight, so it'd be good for her and I could probably have at least a little.

Since yogurt is not by definition lowcarb (unless you consider the seriously processed versions in the store to count), there isn't much information in the way of "how to make relatively lowcarb yogurt" that I can find. Maybe I'm blind, but can any readers help?

I'm pretty sure anybody can mix up milk or half&half (preferably) with some yogurt starter, pour it in some containers and walk away overnight. That part isn't rocket science. What is a little more complicated is stuff like:

* what kind of sweeteners can be used -- any? Should this be before, or after, the 'yogurt making' event?

* aside from berries, what else can be put in yogurt? And again, before or after?

* is there any way to get the sugary flavors my kid loves in store bought yogurt, like "caramel"?

* is the yogurt gonna die if the container shakes just barely? My house is elevated a bit and just walking too hard on the floor can shake the house. I'm concerned there'd be no way to make it short of knowing we'd be out of the house for 8 hours.

* since I've never eaten yogurt aside from the occasional store-cup: is there anything you can DO with yogurt, cooking-wise? I think I once heard it can be used in some kind of asian food, but I don't know any details.

The yocheese sounds interesting. I think this is where Miss Muffet's "curds and whey" separate, and you're left with the solid curd result. It seems to me if this is edible, it could be mixed with some flavorings to good effect. Any ideas?

P.S. I wanted to add that I did do googling for this. The problem is, what I get are (a) a million versions of "how to make yogurt" -- I don't need to know that part, it's recipes for "flavors" I'm looking for -- or "how to use existing yogurt to make foods" -- most of which are things like dips and frozen yogurt... er, not exactly low carb. So that's why I have to ask. I'm curious whether anybody has made homemade yogurt and can think of ways to use it in a low-carb context.



Anonymous said...

I think you should add the flavoring extracts, sweeteners, and berries right before eating, like with the store bought plain yogurt. You can use any flavor you can get an extract for. I don't know if a syrup like DaVinci caramel would water it down too much. I have also mixed in protein powder, ground flax, and chopped nuts.

I substitute yogurt for buttermilk when making my DH's chicken fried steaks, so I guess any recipe that calls for buttermilk you should be able to use yogurt if you thin it a little with water. If you hang the yogurt in cheesecloth over a bowl in the fridge, to drain the liquid, you can use it in place of sour cream for dips, etc. Is that what the yocheese maker does?

The longer you let the yogurt culture the fewer carbs it has, supposedly and the more tart it tastes. The cultures turn the lactose into lactic acid. I think you can let it culture up to 24 hours.

Dana Carpender makes hers in quart containers with a heating pad so it can't be too complicated to make it. Have you read her stuff?

PJ said...

OK, that helps, thanks!

Yeah I was thinking my 32 flavors of davinci would be cool until I realized I'd be watering it down. Darn. I do have lots of flavor extracts from spicebarn.

The yocheese maker, yeah, is what you describe. It's a metal mesh, suspended over this little container with a lid, that you can stick in the fridge to make the yogurt-cheese. It's not expensive, it's mostly just to make the process more convenient and clean.

I have one of Dana's cookbooks but otherwise haven't read her stuff, no.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog, it is my very favorite. I do so identify with what you say. You certainly have a way with words. I second the idea of googleing Dana Carpendar on yogurt. I did and found some great entrys. I love her cook books, but most of her recipes are best left for maintance for me, since my tendency is to eat too much and I am so small boned that I can't eat very much and lose.
Thanks for writing and please keep it up.

Niki said...

I just made Tandoori Chicken with "Fage Greek Yogurt" tonight. If you want it when you make your yogurt, or before, I'll give it to you :)
It was pretty taste. I didn't even know you could make But, I can't wait to hear how it all turns out!!!

Sherrie said...

I don't know how to make yoghurt so no help there but its great in curries and muffins and cakes as well as a coating for meat plus you can makes this dish (can't remember name that you eat with curries which basically consists of yoghurt and chopped cucumber.

I think yoghurt is great on its own with some berried mixed in and some pure cream and maybe a little splenda. YUM

Big Daddy D said...

There are tons of awesome dishes made with yogurt. Pick up a good greek, mediteranean, or middle eastern cookbook. It is often drained overnight and then used as a sauce for meats.

My wife and I absolutely love garlic yogurt sauce on chicken(lemon juice & fresh garlic mixed in yogurt).

Calianna said...

I used to make yogurt all the time, years ago. I don't know how low carb it ended up being, since I would start with regular milk (probably used some kind of nasty low fat milk back in those days though), and added a cup or two of dry milk powder, so it would be fairly thick once it "yogged" (that's what my old yogurt cookbook called the incubation process, LOL!) I'd let it sit a fairly long time though, 12-24 hours, so it probably used up most of the lactose in it by then, since it was always quite tart.

Oh and I made mine in a big lidded tupperware bowl, just sitting on a heating pad, with the whole mess covered with some terrycloth dishtowels to hold in the heat.

As far as flavoring it goes, I mainly just used strawberries or blueberries in those days (always after it had yogged), and usually didn't even sweeten it. If you have good quality flavor extracts (that provide good flavor, not some kind of weak pseudo-flavor), they'd be great. If your daughter doesn't mind the thinner texture of the yogurt using the da vinci syrups for flavoring, you could do that too. Or take a hint from the big yogurt manufacturers, and add a little dissolved gelatin to the "watered down" mixture. Unfortunately, that requires even more prep time, and refrigeration time to solidify the gelatin in the flavored yogurt before eating.

The only problem with slight shaking (or even moving the yogurt while it's yogging), is that you'll "break" it: It'll end up not a smooth solid texture, but soft chunks of yogurt (size will depend on how much it's disturbed), with whey which may or may not float to the top of the container. If you're making the yo-cheese anyway, the whey will just drain off a little more easily.

For that matter, if you're going to drain the whey off the yogurt anyway, maybe the da vinci syrup wouldn't make it too thin (add syrup after draining off the whey).

Let us know how it goes - I've thought of going back to yogurt making again, since I have a terrible time trying to find whole milk plain yogurt in the stores (stupid fat phobia the general public has these days, grumble, grumble), not to mention that the commercial stuff isn't yogged as long as I'd like it to be, so it still tastes a bit sweet to me.

Anna in San Diego, CA said...

I second the motion to read Danda Carpender's books, any of them. I have nearly all her cookbooks, I use them regularly, plus one of her first books, How I Gave up My Low Fat Diet and Lost 40 pounds (or something like that). The only thing is I do not recommend is her practice of using dry milk powder for economy and time saving because I think it is too processed and unhealthy (see for more reading about milk powder if it interests you). Yogurt's sugar is largely consumed by the probiotics, so even though the carb count is high on the label, that reflects the original milk lactose (pre-cultured), not the lactose count after culturing. So it is really far less. If you use raw milk as I do, then it works best to gently heat the milk to 180 degrees, then cool it to 110. That way the natural milk culture will not compete with the yogurt culture. But normally for drinking, we have a good raw milk source (cow and goat milk) and do not heat it. But regular supermarket milk will work, not UHT or ultrapasteurized. They don't support the culture well enough at all.

I have the Salton yogurt maker (makes 1 qt instead of the little jars) and the same yogurt drainer that you have. I sometime still do buy plain, whole milk (Strauss brand) yogurt, but I never buy flavored yogurt anymore.

For my son's yogurt, I add a very small amount of pure Grade B (stronger flavor) maple syrup, a touch of vanilla or other extract, and chopped or pureed seasonal fresh fruit. He thinks it is sweet, but it really is just barely so. Sometimes I add heavy cream or top it with unsweetened whipped cream from an iSi cream whipper (makes it seem like dessert). My son is at a great weight, but he eats far fewer carbs than most kids, so he needs the fat for energy.

For general family use, I keep some plain for savory recipes, but sweeten some with either a bit of Splenda or xylitol (far less sweet than commerical flavored yogurt). At this point we have a very low need for sweet and I don't want to tickle those sweet tastebuds more than necessary. Vanilla, toasted nuts, seasonal non-tropical fruit (especially fresh figs, blueberries, strawberries, kumquats from my garden), toasted unsweetened coconut, cinnamon, etc. are all things I add, depending on what's in season and available. More and more I am enjoying savory yogurts, such as Greek Tzatziki sauce (garlic, cucumber, mint). If I don't have fresh mint, I cut open a peppermint teabag and use the contents. It's great with lamb kebabs, burgers, steak, fish, even chicken, etc.

The drainer is really great. I have used several methods/strainer tools and like this strainer the best for size, capacity, ability to keep covered in the fridge, etc.. The strained yogurt is great for making herbed or fruit spreads, or creamy additions to pureed cauliflower, etc. Experiment.

I also use yogurt for making smoothies and cream soups (with the copious greens that come with my CSA veggie subscription) with my handheld immersion blender. I rarely bother with the conventional blender anymore. My son loves the smoothies for afterschool snacks. Frozen fruit chunks work well for smoothies.

I use a bit of remaining plain yogurt mixed with some milk to make a dilution, then mix it in the milk for more even results, unless the yogurt is on the "old" side. Then I use a new culture packet. The kind in the grodery store is fine. For more flavor and tartness varieties, I get culture packets from (I make cheese, too, so I order yogurt packets when I get my supplies, no affiliation, etc.).

Hope that helps.

Ronna said...

I have been making my own homemade yogurt with powdered milk. I use the microwave to heat it to 180 (about 12 mins @ 70%). I add knox unflavored gelatin to it to make it a bit more thick, then when it is cooled to 110, I add in 2 tablespoons of Stonyfield yogurt. I pour into 6 yogurt containers I had purchased earlier then set them in a pan in my oven, which I heat with a 75-watt lite bulb to maintain a steady 110. About 5 hours is perfect. After chilling in the fridge, I add 2 packets of sweet n low and then drops of flavoring - I have purchased peach flavoring (my favorite) and also cherry, pina colada, cheesecake, eggnog, blue berry, strawberry, kahlua and chocolate. My yogurt is about 55 calories per 6 oz serving. I make it twice a week. If adding syrup, just add a teaspoon at a time because a little goes a long way and shouldn't end up too watery. Good luck!