May 22, 2012 by lytlejoc
If I did my job right in the last post, you are admiring your lovely, creamy batch of homemade yogurt. (If you didn’t read that post, maybe go ahead and do that now. I can wait.) Perhaps you are already flavoring it the way you like and maybe you’re just eating it plain, if plain yogurt is your bag. I had the idea to write a whole post about how to flavor your yogurt since I couldn’t seem to find detailed instructions on the internet, but then I realized that it’s actually really, ridiculously easy to customize. There just wouldn’t be enough to write about in a whole post, so instead, I’m going to tell you my three favorite things to do with my homemade yogurt. The first and most common thing I do is…
Carmen Miranda that shiz!
…Also known as flavor it with fruit. Take your favorite fruit. You can take more than one, if you want. Take as many as you like, in fact (this is when you can start singing “Chica Chica Boom Chic“). Then, chop it up and put it in a pot.
Throw in about a teaspoon full of sugar or honey – you don’t need much, especially if you’ve chosen really sweet fruit. Let it stew over medium heat until it bubbles into a delicious, fruity compote.
Let it cool and stir a few spoonfuls into your bowl of yogurt.
(See what I mean? That’s not a post’s worth.) You don’t even have to stew the fruit, if you don’t want: just chop it up and stir it in. However, if you do make compote, it makes the yogurt a little sweeter, and it helps it blend with the fruit for a smoother, more store bought kind of consistency. The sugar/honey helps activate the pectin in the fruit so it gels a little. You don’t need to add pectin after, though most commercial jams have added pectin for that gooey goodness you get, but the homemade compote will be good… it’s just good. Period.
The second thing that I like to do with my yogurt is…
No, not like Carmen Miranda this time. As in on my face. (And no, I did not take pictures of this charming scene.)
Yogurt is a miracle facial ingredient. High lipid content means that it’s great for moisturizing dry skin. It’s antibacterial so it’s perfect for cleansing and the probiotics are like a little army of acne fighters. The lactic acid is a soothing agent for irritations of the skin. And now that you’re making your own, yogurt is dirt cheap – you no longer have an excuse to spend a ton of money at the drug store on cosmetic cleansers. (And I’m sorry if you practice shopping therapy, like I did. I had to find new ways to spend my money… but that wasn’t too hard to do.)
It really does make your skin look awesome. I have always had super dry skin and often fought with flaky patches around my eyes, but since I discovered this little tip, I haven’t had that problem at all. My skin looks amazing. If you are prone to oily skin, you’ll maybe want to use lower fat yogurt, but it still works. The recipe that I’ve been using on a biweekly basis is this:
1 Tbsp plain yogurt
1 or 2 tsp lemon juice
Mix the flour and the yogurt together in a small dish, adding enough lemon juice to reach a pasty consistency. Apply to your clean face with your fingertips (or the back of the spoon that you stirred with) and let it dry for 15 to 20 minutes. Wash with warm water and pat dry. Admire your gorgeous skin.
The lemon juice is a good additive because it is also astringent and has a brightening effect on your skin over time. Be careful if you’re going into the sun after this mask, however, since citrus juice will make your skin photosensitive and you’ll probably get a sunburn. And that’s bad. But if you do burn, yogurt is a nice cooling salve for that too! In which case it’s a lose-win kinda situation.
There are a few things to note about this. You’ll probably want to put this (and usually any mask) on before showering so that it’s easier to get off. Also, it tingles a little while you’re wearing it, but if you experience burning, wash it off immediately – you may be allergic to yogurt. However, if you are allergic to yogurt, you probably knew that and tend to avoid it, meaning that you are likely not reading this anyway. If you’re not allergic to yogurt and your face is burning…. I’m out of ideas. So just wash it off. Lastly, your skin may feel a bit tight after using this mask and if so, just slap on a little moisturizer. I like almond oil for that purpose.
The last thing that I love to do with my homemade yogurt is…
Turn it into cheese.
Cream cheese is a favorite of mine. I don’t buy it very often, though, because it’s bloody expensive. Right now, 500 g of cream cheese is on sale for $7.00. 1 L of organic milk, you’ll recall, is about $3.39. That means I made 500 g of cream cheese for about $1.70!! HUGE price difference… and that’s compared to the sale price of regular cream cheese.
I’ve made it with regular, homogenized milk (which is about 3.5% milk fat) and I’ve used a litre of half and half (10% milk fat). Both are good, but the half and half is definitely better as I’m sure you might have guessed. I have also discovered that milk with a higher fat content will take longer to heat. I learned this one when I decided to make yogurt and cream cheese at the same time. I heated a liter of half and half and a liter of homogenized in two pots, and the cream definitely took longer. Maybe one of my burners is warmer than the other… maybe the higher water content in the homo milk made it heat faster… I dunno. I’m not Bill Nye. But it’s just something to keep in mind in case you get used to one kind of milk and then switch it up.
You should give this one a shot. Here’s what you do:
Once your yogurt is done incubating in the oven, you just need a strainer, some cheese cloth, and a pitcher or bowl to collect the whey (and you’ll want to keep it! I’m experimenting with mine now… but that information will be for a future post.)
Line the strainer with cheese cloth and dump the yogurt in. Sit the strainer in the bowl and walk away for a few hours. When you come back, it will look like this:
At this point, gravity has exhausted its straining abilities and you will need to give the cheese a hand. Most of the sources I’ve read say that you can jerry-rig something so that the cheese cloth is suspended in the air over the bowl. Because I am lazy, this seemed like much, much too much work. Instead, I weighted it down:
It did the trick.
After about 16 hours in total, you get this:
Add a little salt, if that tickles your fancy. Add a bunch of other stuff too, if you like flavoured cream cheese. Some of your fruit compote will make it sweet, some chives and garlic make it savory for everything bagels.
And now you can just treat it like regular cream cheese. Because that’s what it is. It will keep for about a month in the fridge… if you can get it to last that long.
Have you done anything fun with your homemade yogurt (or are you still waiting for the gumption/time to make it)?
May the probiotics be with you.