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Posts tagged “mason jars

Streamlined Yogurt Making

All you need is a microwave oven, a Mason jar and a thermometer that goes to 200°F (93.3C), a quart of whole milk (better if it is antibiotic, hormone and GMO free), and about 1/4 cup Greek yogurt or the same size sample from a batch of previously home made yogurt.  Using the microwave saves you the extra step and clean-up of a pan on the stove. This method is so easy you may never need to purchase the expensive stuff from the store ever again!

Step one: Have your 1/4 cup sample of yogurt ready to “seed” the quart of milk in your pre-sanitized Mason jar (boil half a quart of water in it prior, then cool it by slowly add the milk).  The milk in the mason jar goes into the microwave for approximately 5 minutes or until the thermometer reaches 180° (82.2C).  Stir occasionally to ensure even temperature top to bottom and skim light skin when it appears.

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Just needs another minute…

Step two: Cool the scalded milk back to a temperature you would be comfortable bathing in; about 110°F (43.3C). Add the culture; about a quarter cup of plain yogurt from an earlier batch, or you could use a sample of store-bought plain Greek yogurt; the more organic the better.  Not all commercial yogurts are created equal but FAGE is a brand highly recommended for taste and quality ingredients if you need to go that route for your culture. About half of a single serving tub is sufficient. Stir it in, mix well and screw on the lid.  As long as you make the next quart of yogurt from your own stock you will never have to purchase yogurt from the store again!  The taste and quality of home made is superior to anything mass produced.

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The Cool-down and the Culture

Step three: Set the jar somewhere it won’t be disturbed but will stay warm the whole day; about 10 to 12 hours.  Because it’s summer the temperature outside is perfect for culturing yogurt; about 90°F (32.2C) average.  As long as the temperature stays between 80° and 100° it will be fine. This temperature range is the perfect temperature for the lactic acid producing bacteria to thrive and multiply causing the milk  to thicken but not curdle. Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are the common strains of bacteria which produce a creamy, thick, gut-health boosting yogurt.  If you start this process at 7:00 a.m., by 7:00 p.m. the bacteria will have done its job. Watch the temperature outside carefully that it stays within the range I mentioned earlier.  In this case the temperature outside was 80°F by 8:00 a.m. when the cooking and cooling was done and that was perfect.  It got to the mid 90°s and by 7:00 p.m. it was 85°;  again, perfect.

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Set it out in the Hot Summer Breeze

Step four: Now put the jar in the refrigerator overnight and by 5:00 a.m. or so the next day you will have a delicious creamy, tangy, treat to eat for breakfast.  If your end product is too thin you can strain the whole jar of its whey in a strainer with cheesecloth or a large coffee filter until it is the consistency you desire.

Bonus: Don’t throw out the whey!  It can be used in soups, mashed potatoes, smoothies, etc…anything you usually add milk and water to will get a boost of protein and added flavor, plus the probiotic benefit.

The Greek yogurt business is in the 1.7 billion range today.  I really get a kick out of taking away at least one customer.  At the store at nearly $2.00 per serving you get 7 oz of a product in a plastic tub with an aluminum lid glued to it and who knows what else added. Give this pure and simple method a try!  You too will keep that money in your own pockets and be so much more satisfied with the taste, and the knowledge of exactly what you are eating from a sterilized glass jar.  Take charge!  I’m having mine with chunks of home-grown tomatoes. YUMMO!100_1718

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Storing Up Meat For Winter

In the old days folks had to store up food for the winter in order to get by.  Drying meats, storing things in root cellars, utilizing the freezing temperatures, and canning got 48998them by before modern refrigeration.  Drying meat from larger game was and is a great way to store meats for people all over the world in any climate.

My brother in law is an avid hunter and has acreage deep in the woods of Missouri.  He purchases his deer tags every year and is always successful bringing in a few each year either during bow season or gun season.  My brother in law got a couple of deer to process and freeze this year.  He is a generous man and shared with us several packages of venison tenderloin, the deer version of fillet mignon.

48993Yesterday I thawed a package, made two steaks that the kids and I shared for lunch and with the rest I sliced it very thinly, gave it a good salting, added some 48995teriyaki  sauce, soy sauce, and steak sauce…just enough to coat the meat well…about a tablespoon of each.  I let the meat sit 48996in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes then broke out the dehydrator.  The meat soaked up most of the marinate which is what I wanted, and I laid the meat out on the trays, set the temperature for 95°, and let it do its magic overnight.  Just before bedtime, I turned the meat over to allow the other side to get thoroughly dry.  I probably didn’t have to do this but my gut told me to do so anyway.

Well, today I shut off the machine (a Harvest Maid dehydrator which a few years ago we got off Craig’s List for $15) and removed the perfectly dry jerky.  My son and I gave it49005 a taste this morning and it was absolutely delicious!  It gives bacon a run for the money as it is much leaner, full of protein, and just as tasty.  My husband though, doesn’t agree.  He doesn’t like deer meat at all!  Some folks just plain don’t like it.  I don’t understand it.  One can’t expect it to taste like beef because it is an entirely different animal, but to each his own.  Being a native Missouri girl, where deer are abundant, even to the point of pesky, I’m glad to enjoy this ecological, economical, and natural source of food.

Dried meat stores for years especially if kept out of the elements.  We’ve got a gadget that attaches to our vacuum sealing machine (Food Saver) that hooks by hose to the lid of a wide mouth Mason jar and vacuums out the air in the jar.  This will help this jerky store for years and years.  I hope to put up more of this in our stores but it will take a lot of will power because this stuff is sooo good!
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Tomatoes Coming Out Our Ears

I’ve been trying to grow tomatoes for years.  Sometimes I get nothing at all for yield, and sometimes I get nothing until September.  We have too darn much shade to get a good growth of anything but the earliest herbs, lettuces and other cold loving vegetables.

This year my pastor and his wife, both dear friends, had a bumper crop from their 150 plants, and let go of a giant bag of goodies to us of two nice varieties.  Now we have tomatoes coming out our ears!  Right away we shared some with our nearby neighbors then I made some fresh salsa in the blender of 6 tomatoes squeesed of their juice (I reserved the juice for the next project),  an jalapeno pepper, an onion, a tbsp of freshly chopped cilantro, a clove of garlic, and a good dash of salt and pepper.   This fresh salsa will keep several weeks in the ‘fridge.

The next project was a batch of whole peeled tomatoes processed in the pressure cooker.  I have never canned tomatoes before but I am having fun learning this skill, first by experimenting with berry preserves.  The acid in tomatoes is almost high enough that high temperature processing is not necessary.  Just a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice and a teaspoon of salt per quart jar takes the acidity into the safe zone.  It can be done in a stock pot boiled 45 minutes, or in a pressure canner/cooker for 25 minutes.  I opted for the pressure method because yes, 20 minutes makes that much difference in my day.

To begin. I blanched the tomatoes in boiling water for just one minute then let them cool on a plate until I could handle them.  I cut out the core and the blanching made it so the skin could almost be rubbed off.  I peeled all the tomatoes and stuffed about 5 into each sanitized jar.  I added the juice that was on the plate and some of the juice left over from making the salsa plus the lemon juice and salt until the jars had 1/2 inch of head space.  I applied the sanitized lids and bands and put them in the hot water of the pressure cooker.  I cooked them 25 minutes and let the steam die down naturally.  When the pressure was down enough, I removed the lid and took out these lovely jars of vine ripened tomatoes that we will enjoy come winter.  Now,  just three more batches to go.