How can yogurt be finger food without refrigeration for up to 5 days? First make Greek yogurt from organic, whole milk then take the next step to make berry yogurt bites.
Did you know Greek yogurt is made with any kind of milk and simply drained of whey liquid after it sets? I thought Greek meant goats milk yogurt like feta cheese. I learned to make yogurt last Fall to organically penny pinch and found it was surprisingly easy. I am a reluctant culinary adventurer. The result cannot be matched by supermarket brands in my biased opinion.
Thanks to detailed instructions and cultures obtained from Steve at thecheesemaker.com, it takes no time to heat milk, let it cool and add culture. I add 1 tsp of flavor in extract form and 1/4 cup of xylitol for sweetness at this point. You need to incubate the yogurt for 6-12 hours at about 110 degrees. More about an incubator/dehydrator later. You will love the creamy thick yogurt from whole or 2% milk, even chocolate milk if you prefer. Like sourdough you can make future batches using the same culture reserved from the initial batch. Very economical.
As gently as possible, transfer the finished yogurt into cheesecloth while the whey drains for 15-20 minutes. Help it along by hanging the bag tied to a dowel over a pot. Chill and you are ready to eat with berries, nuts or dehydrated persimmons as gathered at Pillow Road. If you fail to devour it all, you may go on to the dehydration phase and make yogurt bites.
Below you can see 2″ tart rings (or silicone cupcake liners) hold pureed fruit with yogurt spread on top. Don’t puree fruit to liquid or it will run when you remove the ring. You may use frozen berries in a chopper and they’ll be firm enough not to run.
The Excalibur brand small dehydrator shown below incubates yogurt, makes jerky, dries herbs, tomatoes, fruits and makes fruit leathers. These foods provide optimum nutrition as warm air drying preserves probiotics, vitamins and enzymes usually lost to traditional cooking.
This dehydrator costs around $120 shipped via internet. I use it much more than I thought I would. You might think about adding this handy, healthful item to your kitchen. Caution: round ones can’t make yogurt because the containers won’t fit inside. My inventive friend set the container wrapped in a towel on a heating pad set on medium-high. This works just fine in lieu of contraptions. Monitor with a food thermometer the first few times to determine a setting that yields the 110 degree target range since a high temperature will kill your culture before it can make the yogurt.
4-8 hours later you have mini-cheesecake (like) treats that are refined-sugar free registering LOW on the glycemic index. Although rich tasting they are low in calories, high in probiotics, anti-oxidants and vitamins. They are appealing chilled but like all dehydrated food, no longer require refrigeration. Plastic wrap separately as they will stick together. Yogurt bites are mess-free finger food providing nutritious snacks and dessert.
A great advantage of dehydration is preventing spoilage of pricey organic produce. By dropping extras or leftovers in the blender, resulting purees store much longer sealed in jars and refrigerated or frozen. When I get time I can pour the purees for dehydrating and 8-12 hours later have fruit leathers. The leathers last 4-5 days at room temp, up to a month refrigerated and one year frozen. I can post some ideas for making fruit leathers another day. First you can get started on homemade yogurt whether Greek, plain, chocolate, lemon or vanilla – it’s great.