Fresh from the Sun: Solar-powered Yogurt

Heating the milk to 180 degrees
Heating the milk to 180 degrees | Source
Cooking the yogurt in the yogurt maker.
Cooking the yogurt in the yogurt maker. | Source
Fresh, home-made yogurt.
Fresh, home-made yogurt. | Source
Salman Ranch Jam with fresh, plain yogurt.
Salman Ranch Jam with fresh, plain yogurt. | Source
Five fat Chickens and a healthy Rooster for sale.
Five fat Chickens and a healthy Rooster for sale. | Source

Years ago I used to make my own yogurt. Then I just got in the habit of buying it. I feel in love with Greek-style yogurt long before I visited Greece, and love it to this day. Now, living off the grid (and powering my home completely with solar energy), I am in an on-going learning process of discovering, defining and balancing self-reliance, convenience, and personal preference. I realized that I've missed making my own yogurt and wanted to start making it again. So I got this nifty yogurt maker and just sampled my first batch...and it is delicious!

First, you heat the milk, getting the temperature up to 180 degrees; then let it cool to 110 degrees. Then you introduce the flora, meaning you add the yogurt culture or starter (plain Greek-style for me), pour the milk mixture into the jars and let it cook for 10 to 12 hours. You can make it in 8 hours, but the longer you cook it the thicker the yogurt will become (which is what I prefer). The yogurt maker I selected has a timer and an automatic shut-off, which was important to me. After cooking, you place the yogurt in the refrigerator to cool for three hours before eating.

While I love plain yogurt, I also like it with fruit. I never buy the “fruit at the bottom” yogurts in the store because they are too sweet for me; and I like the slightly tangy characteristic of a good yogurt. Although with my first batch I did add some Raspberry Jam from the Salman Raspberry Ranch. That was a real treat!

The Salman Raspberry Ranch is a wonderfully impressive, family-owned operation. Located in northern New Mexico and designated as an historic site in La Cueva, the Ranch has an intriguing history. They have a delightful gift shop, a café, greenhouses and lovely gardens, and in season a very fun “U Pick It” field which is a great end of summer activity for the whole family. They also have a terrific online store with a variety of fabulous gift baskets (www.salmanraspberryranch.com). With their wide variety of items you can always find the perfect gift for that special someone who has everything! I love photographing the gardens and always have a supply of their jams on hand.

My new yogurt maker came with some recipes. It gives some suggestions, too, such as adding honey, flavorings, fresh or preserved fruit, syrup, coffee, jam or jelly. It will be neat to experiment. I love English Lemon Curd and think I’ll try some of that tomorrow.

I love the ability to have fresh yogurt without having to go to the market each week to get it. And it makes me even more excited about building a chicken coop so we can get some chickens. Recently I saw a sign, pinned to the old bulletin board, at our little local Post Office announcing chickens for sale. I have been tempted to call, but without a suitable house for protection yet, it is a bit premature to add to our extended household. But it is definitely on my list as something I now want, not only for the fresh eggs, but for the new experience.


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