Living abroad makes you do funny things. Living in DC, where good, healthy food is abundant, accessible, and affordable, I did a lot more “assembling” than “cooking.” Why bother making things from scratch when it was easier and cheaper to buy them at Trader Joe’s? But now that I’m living in Hanoi, where my favorite foods aren’t always readily available (but I have lots more time and help!), I’ve found myself being more adventurous in the kitchen.
At home, one of our family staples is plain greek yogurt. It’s healthy, cheap, and easy to find at any local grocery store. In Hanoi? Notsomuch. After paying $10 for a carton of (nearly expired) Greek yogurt one too many times, I decided to try making my own. A friend promised it was simple and tasted much better than the locally available stuff. Who knew it would be so easy? And the best part is there are no preservatives, no sugar, no crap, so you can feel good eating it and serving it to your families.
All you need:
Yogurt (for starter – you can also use starter packets like this: http://www.amazon.com/Euro-Cuisine-Yogurt-Starter/dp/B000EONEU0/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1425453530&sr=8-5&keywords=yogurt+culture)
Yogurt maker (you can also use a dutch oven if you don’t have the yogurt machine)
Milk – whole, local, organic (although in Vietnam I use aseptic packaged milk from New Zealand)
Yogurt Thermometer – http://www.amazon.com/Euro-Cuisine-TM26-Thermometer/dp/B00394YKMI
My Greek Yogurt Recipe
1 litre milk
1 heaping tbsp yogurt
1. Pour milk into microwave-safe bowl and heat until temperature reaches approximately 175 F (this takes 7 minutes in my microwave).
2. Remove milk and let cool until temperature reaches 110-115 F.
3. Remove skim from top of milk.
4. Slowly and gently whisk yogurt into the milk.
5. Pour milk/yogurt mixture into the yogurt maker containers and cover. Turn on machine for 7 hours (you’ll need to determine the optimal time based on your machine and preferences).
If you don’t have a yogurt maker, pour milk/yogurt mixture into a Dutch oven and cover with lid. Wrap the entire pot in a thick towel (to keep it warm) and put it in turned-off oven. Let sit overnight or until it reaches your preferred consistency.
6. To make Greek yogurt, line a mesh sieve with cheesecloth and drain yogurt for approximately 15 minutes.
Turning regular yogurt into Greek yogurt
7. Serve yogurt with your preferred toppings. Some of my favorites? Fresh mango, chia seeds, almonds, dried fruits, PB2, diced apples, cinnamon, granola.
Yogurt is made up of live cultures so every batch is a bit different, depending on the temperature, climate, etc. I recommend experimenting with different brands and types of milk to see which you prefer.
Greek yogurt with cinnamon and maple syrup for dessert