Yogurt Maker

When I made the “how to make your own yogurt” post, someone left a comment about their Cuisinart yogurt maker. You think I get you in all kinds of trouble with the things I share but you readers sometimes cause me to rush out and buy things too. I’m not much of a shopper so I don’t always know that’s out there  . . and some things are just worth having! After reading her comment about the Cuisinart yogurt maker, I looked at it. It sounded like it would be useful but I’ve pretty much committed to not buying anything else. There’s just too much “stuff” in this house and I’m seriously trying to buy only things that I convince myself I cannot live without.

Yogurt Maker

Yogurt Maker

For a few days I thought about the automatic yogurt maker. Here’s how I convinced myself to order it:

  1. The cost of making yogurt means it just makes a whole lot more sense to make it at home than to buy it already made, even when it’s on sale.
  2. When making it either in the cooler, thermos or crockpot, I needed to keep the temperature pretty constantly at 110º, which meant checking it several times during the incubation/fermentation period. 
  3. I like for mine to ferment for 6 hours so that meant timing the process so I would be home and awake at the 6 hour mark. On weekends, when Vince is home, I can never count on being home when I think I’ll be home. If it’s allowed to ferment longer, it continues to get more tart. Once the fermentation period is over, the yogurt needs to be refrigerated.

This all meant that the process needed to be started by noon or I’d be dealing with it late into the evening. The Cuisinart yogurt maker seemed so much easier! Pour the heated and cooled milk into the container, set it and forget it. 

I love it! I am so glad I got it!  Really, I just heated the milk to 180º on top of the stove, like I always do. Then let it cool on the top of the stove to 110º,  add in the culture, just like before but now I pour it in the yogurt maker’s container.

Yogurt Maker

Yogurt Maker

The maker is pre-set to ferment for 8 hours but it’s very easy to change it. I set mine to 6 hours.

Yogurt Maker

Yogurt Maker

The best part of all .  . once those 6 hours have passed, the yogurt maker keeps it cool until I get it out and put it into containers to store in the fridge. I don’t have to be here when it’s done. I don’t have to be awake.

When I awoke this morning, this is what I found!

Yogurt

Yogurt

This is 2 pints, plus the starter for next time.

Yogurt

Yogurt

My morning breakfast:  Yogurt, cinnamon pears I canned last year and rolled oats.

Breakfast

Breakfast

This little yogurt maker is going to get used a whole lot.

Preserving Kale

Edited to add:  Apparently there’s also an issue with kale if you’re taking blood thinners. Who would have thought vegetables needed a disclaimer but . . before eating kale, please make sure it isn’t going to cause any health issues or interfere with meds you may be taking.

Kale is one of those veggies that, based on everything I’ve read, is pretty healthy and good for you. Some folks love it, some detest it. I’m one of those folks who loves it, but Vince isn’t quite as in love with it as I am.  Kale chips and in soups are my favorite ways to eat it. The young, tender leaves are quite good in a salad also.

If you’re one of those who isn’t so sure about kale, please read this article about the health benefits. It’s a powerhouse of vitamins, fiber and minerals. There are a few drawbacks to eating too much kale . . some studies have shown that eating too much kale can cause thyroid issues and . . kidney stones! Do your own research if you are concerned.

Kale is one of those plants that will grow just about year round here. Mine is dying off from the heat, drought and bugs but by the end of August or the first of September, I can replant it for a fall/winter crop.

For soups, I will freeze the kale leaves by blanching them in boiling water for about 3 minutes, then dunking them in ice water for about 5 minutes, run them through the salad spinner and ideally, flash freeze them on cookie sheets before transferring the leaves to freezer bags.  My freezers are stuffed full so I’ll probably forego the flash freezing and simply stuff the leaves into freezer bags and put them in the freezer.  Kale that has been blanched before being frozen should last up to a year in the freezer.

Another method for preserving it is dehydrating. Before getting too fired up about dehydrating kale, I wanted to be sure that the health benefits weren’t destroyed by dehydrating. This article leaves me feeling pretty confident that I haven’t killed all the good stuff by dehydrating the kale.

Kale

Kale

Kale is one of those veggies that actually dehydrates down to almost nothing. I started with about four sinks full of leaves. I pick the leaves when they’re young and tender . . quite different from most of what you see in the stores around here.

Rinse them several time to get the grit out of the ruffled leaves. In the final rinse, I add several tablespoons of white vinegar to the water. This helps get rid of any bugs that may be hanging on . . enjoying a meal of fresh kale!

Kale

Kale

Drain the leaves on towels and then run through salad spinner if you would like to remove a bit more water. It will all dehydrate out if you don’t want to mess with running it through the salad spinner.

Kale

Kale

Remove any bigger stems. I try to harvest the leave before the stems are this big. 

Kale

Kale

Because the leaves are a bit stiff and curly, the don’t always fit on the narrow dehydrator shelves so I chop them a bit, just to get them to fit better in the dehydrator.

Kale

Kale

The shelves are loaded and I dehydrate them on the vegetable setting until they are crunchy.

Once dried, they go into the blender to be chopped into a powder. Three sinks full of kale leaves, dehydrated and ground into a powder . .

Kale

Kale

That’s a half pint jar!  When would I use powdered kale?  I love adding a tablespoon to things like:

  • Brown Gravy (when making beef or pork roast)
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Soups or Stews
  • Dried Pinto or Black Beans

It’s like adding a spoonful of vitamins and minerals to whatever dish I’m adding it to.  It can also be added to smoothies and even omelettes . . just add about a teaspoon to the eggs when beating them.

I was always able to add the powdered kale to dishes without Chad, who would die if he thought I was feeding him kale, even knowing it was in there.

 

Dehydrated Cantaloupe

Cantaloupes are abundant this time of year.  Last year I planted cantaloupe but had so many and didn’t have a clue what to do with them. They were delicious but since so many of them were wasted, I didn’t plant any this year.  Kroger had them on sale for 88¢ each, I bought a couple and they were the sweetest cantaloupes so I began researching to see what could be done with them. I figured I’d buy a few more and test some methods of saving them and if it worked out, I’d plant them again next year. The first thing I made was cantaloupe/peach jam.

Cantaloupe Jam

Cantaloupe/Peach Jam

The plan was that the jam would mostly be used as an add in for our homemade yogurt.

Next, I dehydrated cantaloupe. With it being such sweet cantaloupe, dehydrated . . it tastes like candy! Vince says it’s almost too sweet for him.  I love my dehydrator so much that I bought a second one to have two going at once this year. I use the Excalibur and even though it’s more expensive than some, it’s worth every penny. I’ve used several less expensive models in the past, before I convinced myself the Excalibur was worth the cost, and I can’t say enough good about it. Several folks I know who had used other dehydrators and given up on dehydrating decided to give the Excalibur a try and they also are completely sold on it.

Dehydrated Cantaloupe

Dehydrated Cantaloupe

Two cantaloupes were thinly sliced and except that I ate quite a bit of it . . you know . . it has to be tested so I’ll know when it’s done. 

I do believe we’ll be planting cantaloupe again next year.

While looking at ideas for cantaloupe, I saw dehydrated watermelon too. Our watermelons should be getting ripe soon so I’ll try some of that too.