A Gallon Of Fat-Free Yogurt? Easy!

If anyone has an issue finding fat-free dairy for Dukan diet, or considers the cost of it being a bit too high, you are not alone. Here is an easy solution: make it yourself.

Pictured: Top right– home-made Greek yogurt, top left – home-made tvorog, bottom – Greek yogurt with a drop of Dassani Strawberry-Kiwi flavor, Walden Farms no-calorie Chocolate Syrup, Fat-Free Whipped Cream, and strawberry.  Yummm!!!

Seriously, it is not as hard as it seems – all you need is a lot of fat-free milk + small jar of fat-free yogurt (Greek is the best, I use Fage) as a starter culture.

Next thing you need is something to support body temperature outside of the body, for a period of 8-10 hours.

This is called “thermostat”.  Of course you can ask your husband, Grandma, or even your pet to sit on a top to keep your yogurt warm, but I don’t think that would be a practical idea. There are lots of things around your house that can assume the role of Grandma thermostat.

Specialized yogurt makers are the best, but when we are talking about a gallon, most of them just don’t fit the bill – too small.

There are some super-duper multi-cookers that can support given temperature – if you have one, that’s perfect, they normally come with the instruction on how to make yogurt, so you can stop reading right here.

Then, there is a variety of slow cookers (crock-pots) – when set on low, they can support the temperature needed, if you use them as double-boiler, except that water should not be allowed to boil. Rice cookers in “keep warm” position can do that, too – also as double boilers.

You can even use your oven set to 100F, with water bath or pizza stone inside (to keep temperature from changing too much during oven cycles) with oven door slightly ajar.

There is also another option. Many of us have stoves with “keep warm” burner. In a case you wondered what this burner is good for, here is a sequence of steps I use to make a gallon of fat-free yogurt overnight (it’s convenient to start the process in the evening.)

1.       Buy a gallon of fat free milk and have some Greek fat-free yogurt available – you need just 2 tbsp.

2.       Warm up the milk – you can do it on a stove or in the microwave. I prefer stove, because temperature is easier to control. Stir milk from time to time, to distribute heat evenly. I use my pinky as a thermometer – if I dip it into milk and do not feel any  difference in temperature, it means it’s time to take milk off the heat.

3.       Ladle some warm milk into a small separate small bowl, add 2 tbsp of fat free yogurt, stir well, then add back to the pan with warm milk, and mix it well again. Now your milk has culture in it, that, at the right circumstances, will turn it into yogurt.

4.       Have your “keep warm” burner going on low. Take a metal pot/pan big enough to fit the one with the milk. Put something on a bottom, such as dishcloth, or folded paper towel, so there is no direct contact between two pans. Place pot with milk inside larger one.

5.       Pour hot water inside, between walls of large pan and milk pan, to create double boiler/water bath. Leave it on  “keep warm” burner overnight.  You can leave the lid on or off – does not really matter, I’ve done it both ways.

If doing it for the first time, it’s a good idea to measure the temperature of the milk, just to make sure it is not too cold or too hot. Too cold makes the process longer, and may not activate Thermopylae yogurt culture, and too hot will kill it and make milk to coagulate. So keep it between 90-98 degrees F, and by the next morning, you will have a gallon of delicious fresh yogurt. There will be a thin layer of whey on a top (you can strain it away and use for pancakes – it contains lots of valuable milk solids.)

This yogurt can be eaten as is, or strained into Greek yogurt. Or, you can turn it into fromage blanc (or quark, whatever.)

6.       In order to strain, cover the strainer with a few layers of clean cotton cloth. I prefer not to use what is sold as “cheese cloth” – because this stuff is just too thin, and will let the precious protein to escape through the holes. Use something more robust such as muslin.

7.       Install the strainer on a top of the pot, so it is well supported, then ladle freshly made yogurt into the strainer. Let it sit until you like the thickness – it should be creamy but not too dense. If you keep it straining longer, it will turn into fromage blanc!

8.       If you want to make quark/tvorog, you can skip straining step, and follow this recipe.

9.       That’s it! From 1 gallon of milk, I get at least 16 oz of premium-grade, very creamy and mild-testing Greek yogurt, 1 lb of fromage blanc,  and even have some milk left for oatmeal (or rather oat bran?), omelet or morning coffee.

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