Last week I found a sale on soon-expiring organic milk. Our kids go through A LOT of yogurt every week and that has not been helping the budget so much. I know we could reduce their yogurt consumption, but it is one of those foods they enjoy that is good for them and we don't have a battle about them eating. So when I saw half-gallons of this organic milk marked down to $1.34 I just had to bring it home and try my hand at making yogurt. I've read of a few different methods, but the method I tried was to heat the milk to nearly boiling on the stove, cool to a temperature of 110 degrees (I used a candy thermometer), then pour into containers, add a few tablespoons of plain yogurt to each container and place in the oven overnight with the oven light on for warmth. From a half-gallon of milk I filled 2-28oz. mason jars and one 4 1/2 cup pyrex dish. In the morning I put a lid on each container and refrigerated until use. One jar turned out great and the other two were a bit too runny, though they tasted great. Next time I will have the oven on warm before placing the containers inside and then shut the oven off. For the time it took and how quickly we consume yogurt, I think I will start with one gallon of milk next time. I may also experiment with a warm water bath process which you can do with a good cooler. Rest assured, none went to waste. I was able to mix the runny yogurt with baby cereal for Smiley and for smoothies for the older kids.
Last week I also tried making pumpkin puree. It worked great. I had a pie pumpkin I had purchased as a fall decoration. Unfortunately, we never got around to carving it with the kids so it was still sitting on the counter and I figured I should use it up before it went bad. I cut it in half, removed the seeds and fibers, placed it in a baking dish with a bit of water, covered and baked at 325 degrees for about 1 hour. When it was cool enough to handle I scooped the pumpkin away from the skin and put that in a blender. I now have about 5 cups of puree in the freezer for later use. The kids also enjoyed some smoothies that included the remnants left in the blender jar. This week I saw an episode of Martha Stewart and she recommended letting the puree sit over cheesecloth for an hour to remove excess moisture, but I think I'll just compensate with an extra quantity of dry ingredients when I use this for baking.