Dehydrating

Homemade Yogurt

Making your own homemade yogurt is a great way to stretch a buck or two.  My kids are huge smoothie drinkers. They love drinking a smoothie and having a piece of fruit for breakfast. I learned to make yogurt about a year ago and use them as a smoothie.

I tried making yogurt many times but could never get it to be thick enough to call yogurt.  This is the thickest recipe I’ve had so far. I know how to make it thicker which I will tell you here, but my kids prefer to drink it as a smoothie so I don’t bother.  To make yogurt I use my dehydrator.

First find some good organic plain yogurt. I use Stonyfield Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt.

It has 5 different bacteria in it which is more than other brands I’ve seen, plus it’s organic.  You will also need milk.  If you are using store milk use a whole milk. If you are using raw milk you need to heat the milk to at least 160 or the bacteria in the milk will stop the yogurt bacteria from working. I’ve tried lower temps but 160 is pretty much the lowest I’ve found will work.

No matter what milk you use you need to make sure it is at 110 degrees, so heat it or cool it depending on how you are starting.  For half of a gallon you want to add 1/4th cup of the plain yogurt and stir until it’s well mixed.  Pour into a half gallon glass canning jar, place lid on and tighten slightly.  Take out all the trays in the dehydrator and place the jar inside.  Turn the dehydrator on 105 ish and leave it in there 10 hours or so.  I usually make it around lunch and pull it out before bedtime.  Once the 10 hours is up, you need to CAREFULLY move it to the fridge and let it sit until it’s completely cool.  Once it is cool, take a spoon and stir.  You’ve now just made 1/2 gallon of yogurt!  If you want it thicker you can drain it in the fridge through either a coffee filter or a cotton handkerchief.

Fruit

Courtesy of Burpee.com

My kids like a variety of things inside this yogurt. I usually buy organic frozen fruit or whatever fruit is in season. I puree this fruit in my blender and pour it into a bowl. Then I add the yogurt and stir. I always taste it before I start adding sugar.  Store brands have a lot of sugar and yours might as well depending on how sweet the fruit is.  4.2 grams of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon in the store stuff.

Looking up Dannon fruit on the bottom strawberry yogurt, it says it has 26 grams of sugar for 6 oz.   That means each 6 oz has 6.19 tsp of sugar in it.  The yogurt we made is almost exactly 8 cups..maybe a tad more.  You can add up to 1 cup of sugar to your half gallon mix to equal the sugar for 8 oz of yours as their 6 oz. I have never used 1 cup.  The most I’ve used is 2/3 c and the fruit was just not ripe at all.  Also a little note, if you are letting the yogurt sit for more than a few days before you eat it then make it a tad sweeter. The bacteria will eat the sugar over time.

I make a gallon of yogurt a week for my kids.  You could sweeten with other sweeteners too if you wanted. It’s all up to you. I’d rather use organic starter, raw milk, organic fruits, and add my own sugar than to buy the store brand with fruit.  Also so your plain store yogurt doesn’t go bad, measure out 1/4th cups portions into other containers and freeze.  Many people use ice cube trays. I think two cubes equal 1/4th cup.

Happy Homesteading!

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Categories: Dehydrating, Homesteading, Recipes | 1 Comment

Two big purchases, but worth the money (#1)

There are two purchases that I’ve made in my life (besides the crockpot) that I would say every homesteader should have.  As I write that I am now thinking to myself that if you are an electric minimalist you might have to find another way to make one of these…psst youtube.

I am a fairly big gardener. In fact, if I had two more hands I would have twice as big of a garden.  As it stands I barely can keep up.  One of the best purchases I have made so far is a dehydrator.  Now I went on a search for the best dehydrator and on epinions read a review that said this man had a small business. He had a few of these dehydrators that ran 24/7 for 6 years and haven’t broke yet.  I thought man ok this is the one!  That dehydrator my friend is the Excalibur.  Now normally I don’t care what people buy. I’m more of the don’t buy the cheapest or most expensive.  I also am big on non electric items in case you are out of electric for a long period of time, but honestly I have to say this is the BEST dehydrator ever!!

Courtesy of Excalibur Dehydrators

Courtesy of Excalibur Dehydrators

Not all dehydrators are equal my friends.  If you have a tall round one with a fan on the bottom that is the worst kind ever!  Once you load up the bottom tray very little air gets to the other trays.  The bottom stuff will get done way faster than the middle or upper trays. Also those don’t have room unless you stack trays.

Here is why I love my dehydrator and why you need one.

  •  It’s fairly easy to clean
  • The trays fit over my sink so the wet stuff can drip dry some before I put it in
  • I can remove all the trays and make yogurt inside because of the temperature control (recipe in a few days)
  • I can turn it on and the top stays warm enough for me to rise bread when my house is 65 degrees lol
  • I can fit a lot in the 9 tray model I have.
  • I can buy discounted produce at the store like bananas, apples, mango, kiwis and dehydrate them when others can’t.
  • It keeps my pantry full of vegetables I didnt have time to can or freeze, so I don’t waste them.  Plus if the power goes out you lose all frozen food after 24 hours or so…dehydrated things stay good for forever it seems!

I would highly recommend buying this dehydrator if you are looking for one.  It is easier to dehydrate garden items then it is to can them.  The unit is so great that I use it for all the above and well no other item in my house is that versatile. It’s a great first major purchase and I highly recommend it.  If you don’t know how to dehydrate, this lady is the queen http://www.dehydrate2store.com .  I don’t follow every practice because man she is storing for an Apocalypse or something, but her basics are great and she has a lot of how to videos.  Also if you do want to purchase one do NOT buy new on the Excalibur site.  Buy a refurb.  I did and haven’t regretted it. They are lower in price, may not have the auto timer but who cares I never would use it, and it comes with a full warranty just like the new ones!

Here is an example of what a dehydrator can do for your garden.

Heaping pile of lettuce. I had to line every other tray it was so high.

Heaping pile of lettuce. I had to line every other tray it was so high.

Lettuce after 24 hours in the dehydrator.

Lettuce after 24 hours in the dehydrator.

Once it is dehydrated I crush it in a bowl like you would dry leaves and place the pieces in jars for soups and stews.

Anyone can dehydrate and it will bring you one step closer to building that months worth of food in your pantry that you really should have.    Happy Homesteading!! 😀

Categories: Dehydrating, Homesteading | 6 Comments

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