Homemade Yogurt in the Instant Pot


I started making yogurt in my Instant Pot a few years ago and I've never looked back!  Homemade yogurt is cost effective and it tastes delicious!  It is a bit time consuming, but it isn't difficult to do and once you make it part of your routine you don't even notice that the Instant Pot is working its magic in the background.

Step One:  Clean your Instant Pot.   I know you wash it after every use.  But taking this extra step will improve the flavor of your yogurt. This is especially helpful if you've been using your Instant Pot to make something spicy.  Just pouring boiling water into the inner pot will suffice and should take the spicy flavors away.  Pour the boiling water out and allow the pot to dry.

Step Two: Pour 1/2 gallon of milk into the Instant Pot, put the lid on, and hit the yogurt button.  Adjust the yogurt button until it says Boil.  Allow the Instant Pot to boil the milk and when it beeps indicating it is done (approx. 45 min later), remove the lid.  Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the milk.  It should have reached 180 degrees. Leave the inner pot inside of the Instant Pot for 5 min after it beeps. 

Step Three:  Remove the inner pot from the Instant Pot and allow the milk to cool to 105-115 degrees.  This will take an hour if you allow it to cool on the countertop, or you can speed up the process by inserting the inner pot into a large bowl or sink of ice. 

Step Four: Remove the skin from the top layer of milk once it has cooled to 105-115 degrees. 

Step Five: Whisk in a yogurt starter.  The rule of thumb is to add 1 Tbsp of yogurt per quart of milk.  So if you are making 1/2 gallon of yogurt you would whisk in 2 Tbsp of yogurt. Use plain yogurt from the grocery store that has live cultures and has not been sweetened. If the yogurt has live cultures the ingredient list will include Lactobacillus bulgaricus or Streptococcus thermophilus.

Step 6:  Give your yogurt 8-12 hours to incubate in the Instant Pot.  Place the inner pot back in the Instant Pot and hit the Yogurt button until it reads 8 hours.  (I personally love to adjust it to 12 hours).  The longer you let the yogurt sit the tangier it will be.  When the yogurt is done, transfer it to Mason jars and store in the fridge. 

***If you would like to make Greek yogurt, follow all of the steps above except for transferring to jars and storing in the fridge.  Once the Instant Pot indicates that your 8-12 hours is up, put a piece of cheesecloth over a bowl and pour the yogurt mixture over the cheesecloth so the liquid can filter out.  The yogurt on top of the cheesecloth will be thick and can be scooped into jars to store in the fridge once the liquid has drained away.

If you'd like to flavor your yogurt, you can do this once it is already made!  I've stirred in honey, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and/or berry compote.

Pro Tip:  You can use your own homemade yogurt as the starter for your next batch.  An easy way to make sure you always have some on hand is to freeze it in a silicone ice cube tray. (Each section holds 1 Tablespoon).


Do you have any tips or tricks for making yogurt in your Instant Pot?

Refrigerator Dill Pickles


Our garden is thriving this summer!  We are bringing in more cucumbers than we can eat so we decided to start making batches of Refrigerator Dill Pickles and we have zero regrets!  This recipe has just the right amount of tang and flavor.  It's super easy to just make one batch at a time.  Because there is no canning involved, these pickles should be stored in the fridge and consumed within three weeks. 


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1. Bring water, white vinegar, coconut sugar, and sea salt to a boil.  Stir until sugar and salt is completely dissolved.  Remove from heat and allow to completely cool.

2.  Put dill and garlic cloves in the bottom of your jars and pack cucumber spears into the jars.  Pour the cooled vinegar/water mixture over the cucumbers and seal the jars with lids.  Refrigerate for 3 days before consuming.  This recipe will store in the fridge for 3 weeks.

Enjoy!

Chicken with Honey Lemon Butter



Sheet Pan Dinners make life SO easy.  This is one of our favorite fall recipes.  We love to use carrots and parsnips from our garden!

Chicken with Honey Lemon Butter over Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
4 servings

Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
Parsnips- 4, chopped into 1/2 in. pieces
Carrots- 6, chopped into 1/2 in. pieces
Olive oil- 2 Tbsp
Thyme leaves- 1 tsp
Salt
Pepper

Chicken with Honey Lemon Butter
Chicken breasts, boneless & skinless- 1 1/2 lbs
Garlic- 2 cloves, minced
White onion- 1/2, finely chopped
Honey- 2 Tbsp
Dijon mustard- 1 tsp
Lemon- 1/2, juice of
Lemon essential oil- 3 drops
Butter- 3 Tbsp
Olive oil- 1 Tbsp
Thyme- 4 sprigs

Arugula Salad
Lemon- 1/2, juice of
Lemon essential oil- 2 drops
Dijon mustard- 1 tsp
Honey- 1 1/2 tsp
Olive oil- 2 Tbsp
Arugula- 6 oz

Prep
1. Season chicken with salt and pepper and tenderize.
2. Mince garlic and chop onion.
3. Peel and cut carrots and parsnips.
4. Make Honey Lemon Butter. Combine garlic, onions, honey, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, Lemon essential oil, and butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for approx. 1 minute until the butter is melted. Stir to combine.

Make
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Toss parsnips, carrots, thyme leaves, olive oil, salt & pepper in a bowl until well coated. Spread out on a sheet pan. Roast in the top rack of your oven for 25-30 minutes.

3. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Sear the chicken until golden brown, approximately 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to the sheet pan of veggies that have been roasting. Roasting the chicken on top of the veggies will give them a boost of flavor.

4. Pour butter mixture over the chicken and veggies and place thyme sprigs on each piece of chicken. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 F. The parsnips and carrots should finish at the same time as the chicken. If necessary, season to taste with more salt and pepper.

5. While the chicken is roasting, whisk together the lemon juice, Lemon essential oil, Dijon mustard, honey, and olive oil for the salad dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss Arugula with the salad dressing.

What are you making for dinner tonight?

How to Read Labels on Produce


That little sticker on your produce can tell you a lot about the item you are about to put in your cart.  The sticker not only provides the bar code to scan at the checkout counter, but it will also tell you where your produce was grown, and HOW it was grown!

Have you ever wondered what the numbers on the sticker mean?  
The next time you are at the grocery store, look at the numbers on the sticker.  

Most of our fruit and vegetables contain a four digit code that begins with a 3 or a 4.  If you see a 3 or a 4 at the beginning of the code, you know that this item was conventionally grown and most likely sprayed with pesticides.  (See this post if you want to see how pesticide exposure is impacting our bodies).

If the code is five digits and begins with a 9, this item was grown organically.  Easy peasy!



How to Limit Exposure to Pesticides on Food





It is just the norm now to walk into the grocery store and expect our food to be covered with something.  Grapes are among the top pesticide containing foods. They have been on the Dirty Dozen list for years!   


Because grapes, apples, strawberries, spinach, and kale are so popular, they are finding ways to mass produce them and they are making them resilient by spraying them with poison. 


We can't be ok with this!  Our food contains neurotoxic pesticides that can harm the brain of a developing fetus and pesticides that are classified as probable human carcinogens.  (A carcinogen is a substance that causes cancer). 


A recent study actually found a surprising association between the consumption of foods high in pesticide residue and fertility problems in the participants.  (Source) 




How can we limit our exposure to pesticides?

1.  Avoid produce on the Dirty Dozen list and shop from the Clean Fifteen.

The Dirty Dozen list is a helpful guide of the top 12 fruits and veggies that contain the most pesticides.  If you want to start somewhere, these are the foods you should try to purchase in the Organic section of the store if it is possible with your budget.  


EWG'S DIRTY DOZEN LIST

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9.  Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

The Clean Fifteen is a list of the fruits and veggies that contain the least amount of pesticides, so these would be fine to purchase from the conventional list if Organic isn't in your budget! 


EWG's CLEAN FIFTEEN

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Frozen sweet peas
  5. Onions
  6. Papayas
  7. Eggplants
  8. Asparagus
  9. Kiwis
  10. Cabbages
  11. Cauliflower
  12. Cantaloupes
  13. Broccoli
  14. Mushrooms
  15. Honeydew melons

2.  Grow your own food or shop locally at a Farmer's Market.
It is so cost effective to grow your own produce and if you don't have a large plot of land you can easily do it in a pot on the patio!  It's actually soothing for the soul if you spend a little time in the dirt every day.  If you don't have the time (or patience) to grow your own food, check out your local Farmer's Market.  Many of the local gardeners limit their use of pesticides and you can find locally grown Organic produce for a reasonable price!  Shopping locally will also ensure that your vegetables have a wonderful nutritional profile because they have been picked at the peak of perfection instead of being picked prematurely to be shipped from another country. 


3.  Wash ALL of your produce- even if it is Organic.
Washing produce can greatly reduce our exposure to pesticides.  Parasites and bacteria also live in the soil where our produce is grown so by washing it you are reducing your exposure to unwanted critters. My favorite fruit & veggie soak contains a powerful essential oil blend that targets the crud. Organic produce is grown without being sprayed by as many toxins, but it can definitely become contaminated during transit so it should be washed as well.



What is your system for washing produce?  Do you do it right when you get home?  Right before you use it?  

 
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