Thursday, March 5, 2015

Homemade Green Tea Yogurt - So Easy You Could Literally Do it in Your Sleep

I recently tried some of Chobani's Green Tea Yogurt. It said "Limited Batch" and "Green Tea" so I didn't need any convincing to put it in my cart. I was really excited about it because Chobani Mango is my favorite yogurt. Ok, actually I love Noosa's Strawberry Rhubarb the most but that is wickedly indulgent (because I will eat a whole container). I feel less guilty about eating Chobani.

Hello Healthy Breakfast!

Anyway, after checking my back to make sure the cats were safely asleep somewhere far away, I peeled back the lid and prepared to dig in. My first thought was "Chobani made a mistake. My yogurt is white, not green." It didn't smell too much like green tea and it certainly did not look green. Sometimes things are dyed to give you the impression that they contain the advertised ingredient. Like red cherry flavored cough syrup. We all know cough syrup can be any horrible color under the sun. So, my green tea yogurt doesn't have to be green. But, if you add even a 1/4 tsp of matcha power, I swear this would turn green, as it did for me. So, needless to say, I was disappointed in the color.

I wanted to add berries to my yogurt. It doesn't need it but I like it.
I was leery because the yogurt was white and ate my first bite with trepidation. It tasted like green tea. Not overwhelming, but I could definitely taste the green tea. Would I buy it again? Probably not. I like fruit in my yogurt and the mango is still the best in my opinion. I also thought, why don't I improve on the yogurt? I definitely could make a green tea yogurt.

Green tea Chobani yogurt.
 The easiest way to make green tea yogurt is actually to just buy plain yogurt and stir in some matcha powder. But, why not go the whole hog and make the yogurt too?

I think some people are scared of making yogurt because the idea of culturing bacteria seems so unsafe. But, with good, aseptic practice, you should be fine. If your yogurt smells weird and looks weird, throw it out and start over. Really, its not a big deal.

Get rid of the fear and lets make yogurt!

Materials
1/2 Cup Plain yogurt with live active cultures  (Make sure it says live active cultures on the list of ingredients! Something like Chobani plain with any fat, I like 4% the most)
1/2 Gallon Milk (Any fat is fine but whole milk makes the creamiest yogurt. I use 2%.)
4 Qt Pot with a lid that fits (A dutch oven is ideal but any old pot will work. Make sure it isn't the teflon coated pot you used to make curry last night)
Thermometer (I used my meat thermometer because it is easy to sanitize but many people use candy thermometers)
Warm towel (For incubating your culture you need someplace warm. You can also use an oven that has a light or a cooler with warm water)
Jars for storing your yogurt (I used 8 oz mason jars)
Ladle for transferring yogurt
Cheesecloth and large bowl - this is optional. If you want to make Greek yogurt, you need to strain out the whey that separates from the yogurt with a kind of fine strainer like cheesecloth or a clean towel for 4-8 hours.



Instructions

1. Sterilize anything you plan on dipping into your yogurt, like ladles, spoons, or thermometers. Since I work in a lab, contamination scares me like nothing else. I put my mason jars and spoons in a pot of boiling water. I dipped the end of my thermometer in boiling water.

2. Warm your milk to 200 degrees F. Stir frequently to prevent the milk from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot. Check often with the thermometer. Warming the milk is essential to killing the other bacteria you don't want to introduce in your yogurt. This takes 10-15 minutes.

3. Once the milk is at 200 degrees F, turn off the heat and let the milk cool to about 115 degrees F. If the milk is too hot, your cultures will die so let it cool. This takes anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.
4. While the milk is cooling, take your yogurt with the live active cultures out of the fridge and let it get to room temperature.

5. When the milk is around 115 degrees F, ladle some of the warmed milk into your yogurt and mix well. This will thin the yogurt and temper the milk. If you introduce cold yogurt into your milk, it may drop the temperature too low. Also, thin yogurt is easier to evenly mix into the milk. Whisk the milk and yogurt well.

6. Once the yogurt and milk are evenly mixed, put the lid on the pot and wrap the pot with a warm towel if you want (if you have a heavy duty dutch oven, you really don't need a towel). Store in a warm place like the oven with the light on or a sunny spot.

7. Wait for 4-8 hours.  You can do this overnight, while you are sleeping. If you are awake, after 4 hours, check the consistency. Is it thick and in one mass, like a custard? If you tilt the pot, does the yogurt pull away from the pot in one mass? If not, that is fine. Let it sit for a little longer. At this time, taste your yogurt too. Is it tart enough for you? Leaving the yogurt longer will result in a more acidic (more tart) yogurt.

Overnight incubation in the oven. Smooth consistency. I used 2% milk.
8. For Greek yogurt, pour this mass of yogurt onto some cheesecloth or a fine meshed metal sieve. Let gravity work for you, separating the whey from the curd. The longer you wait, the thicker the end product. I like my yogurt super thick so I leave it overnight in the fridge.


9. If you like your yogurt the way it is, put it in the fridge and cool it (or eat it warm, whatever you prefer).




To make my matcha and honey yogurt:
Whisk 1/2 tsp matcha powder into 1/2 Cup of yogurt. Drizzle in 1/2 tsp honey. Top with berries and nuts. I added candied ginger. It tasted great! Now that you have all this yogurt, make your own variations.

I added some candied ginger from Lunar New Year.

Have fun and good luck!