Homemade yogurt and cottage cheese, Chadian-style!

My work involves a LOT of desktop publishing work and producing literacy materials in different languages. Such work seems like it is never done. The more you get done, the more you think you should have done. So the new tasks of preparing the guesthouse for visitors and preparing foods that are hard to find here from the raw ingredients have been a lot of fun, because, when you are done preparing them, your work is over, and the enjoyment can last a long time.

One of these enjoyable cooking tasks is making our own yogurt. We make it by the pot-ful, then turn a portion of it into dips/spreads from Mulberry Downeast, and can also make cottage cheese with another part of it (see the recipe below).

Of course, the girls consider the yogurt left over to be a special treat for breakfast as well. Rather than eating it by the unrecyclable cupful, we enjoy it by the reusable bowlful!

In Chad, we can buy all sorts of drink mix flavors manufactured in the Middle East: Pineapple, Orange, Mango, Grape, Guava, Lemon, Strawberry and many more. In order to flavor the yogurt, we add a spoonful of the drink mix of their choice, or a combination; you might prefer adding some sliced fruit, nuts or raisins as well. It’s a lot of fun to come up with all sorts of yogurt flavor combinations that are unavailable anywhere else but at your house!

But if I were in the US now, I would also make my own drink mixes/yogurt flavorings by pouring a cup of sugar into a dry jar, then adding the contents of a packet of Kool-Aid. I would close the jar, shake the flavoring into the sugar, label the jar and throw a leftover drink mix scoop into it.  Doing this is a bit cheaper than buying the sugared drink mixes.

If this is your first time making anything like yogurt, you might want to make a half-batch until your confidence is up. But be bold! Give it a try! If it fails, the only ingredients wasted would be the powdered milk and three tablespoons of yogurt.

If you need help, you can always leave me a comment, and I will do my best to coach you through this.

Faris Family Yogurt

Ingredients:sheknows.com yogurt
4 cups water, room temp
2 cups boiling water
3 1/2 cups milk powder (I love Nido, available in the Spanish food section of the Bangor Wal-Mart)
3 heaping tablespoons yogurt starter (either buy a small container of plain yogurt at the grocery store, or reuse some yogurt from your last batch)

Directions:
1. Pour boiling water over everything
2. Using a wire whisk, mix the lukewarm water with the milk powder in a metal cooking pot that has a cover
3. Mix well the boiling water
4. Mix in the starter
5. Wash out starter container, pour mix into it
6. Put the cover on the cooking pot
7. Keep this baby warm for the next 6-10 hours! The target temperature you are looking for is somewhere between 85F and 115F.
8. When the yogurt is solid on top and forms a shape against the edge of the pot, it’s ready! But taste it first to make sure it isn’t overdone (i.e. very bitter-tasting)
9. Put it into plastic containers, and refrigerate.

…and once you have yogurt and some cheesecloth (or a tightly meshed net-type pasta strainer), you can now make cottage cheese for lasagna! Take heart, it’s even EASIER to make than yogurt!

Faris Family Cottage Cheese

Ingredients:david lebovitz homemade-cottage-cheese-recipe
– 6 cups, plus a half cup, whole milk
– 2 cups yogurt
– 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:
1. Gently boil together six cups of whole milk and two cups of yogurt. It will separate.
2. Put a pasta strainer into a separate cooking pot. If it the holes in the strainer are a little large, lay a piece of cheese cloth against the surface of the spaghetti strainer
3. When there is a clear distinction between the water and the cottage cheese pieces, pour the mix into the pasta strainer or cheesecloth until the liquid is mostly strained into the cooking pot
4. Scrape the cottage cheese into a plastic container
5. Dress it with a half cup of  whole milk and 1 tsp. salt, then refrigerate.

Makes approx. 16 fl. oz.

When leaving the yogurt mixture outside on a hot day, I like to put the sealed container in a plastic basin with a bit of water at the bottom. That way, the ants and other animals cannot easily get to it.

Do you have any special family recipes? Tell us about them below!

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