Spring and summer are seasons to renew the soul. The bright sunshine, long days, and cool nights help our bodies and minds rejuvenate; and the bounty of fresh fruits and veggies provide endless meals chock full of flavors and vitamins to invigorate us further.
We grow strawberries and blueberries in our backyard, and our front property is surrounded by dozens and dozens of blackberry bushes. It used to tickle me pink that the blackberries in the pancake photo online a couple of years ago were from my front yard. I love to bring heaping bowls full in to share with my co-workers. Berryfest!
Combine our homegrown fruits with the stunning array of produce offered at local farmstands, and we've got a world of flavor awaiting our imaginations.
As days get hotter I find I want a cooler, lighter breakfast than eggs or oatmeal. With 19 chickens, 3 dogs, and a cat to take care of in the morning, my time is often at a premium; and being able to take a nutritious and delicious grab-and-go breakfast is a real boon. Time to bring on the blender and make smoothies!
While you certainly can use store-bought yogurt to make smoothies, making fresh, homemade yogurt allows you to control the consistency and, most importantly, the ingredients to your taste. Know a local farmer who sells fresh milk? You've got it made. If not, check out local farmer's markets and family-owned grocery stores for local products.
Let's get started making the yogurt for our Homemade Yogurt Smoothies.
Here at King Arthur Flour, we sell two different yogurt makers, and this little beauty is a real favorite. The small jars allow you to make individual portions that are totally portable; and the auto shutoff feature is a real hassle-saver.
To ensure that you're growing only the bacteria that you want in your yogurt, the milk needs to be heated to kill off unwanted bacteria. Use a sturdy, heavy-bottomed pot set over medium heat.
You'll need to heat the milk to a minimum of 180°F, or until it just begins to boil. Remember how we always say it's hard to photograph with only two hands? This was reading 196°F when I picked up the camera, then rapidly...
Boiled up and over the stove. A classic case of do as I say, NOT as I do. Luckily this was just a matter of seconds, so the milk was off the heat quickly. You don't want to boil the milk for a long period of time, as this can lead to a grainy texture in your finished yogurt.
If you like your yogurt on the thicker side, a bit of gelatin will help. Use 5 sheets of sheet gelatin, or 1 packet of powdered unflavored gelatin. Soften the gelatin in cool water for several minutes to make incorporating it into the starter easier. I snipped this sheet gelatin so help it along, but it's not necessary.
Here's how the gelatin looks as it softens and dissolves in the water. Give it the occasional stir to help it along.
Once the milk has cooled to room temperature, around 77°F or so, you can add the powdered yogurt starter (or 3 tablespoons of store-bought yogurt with live, active cultures) to about 1 cup of the cooled milk.
It's very important to thoroughly mix the starter in with the milk.
I stir with a spatula. Stir, stir stir.
Then I pour the milk/starter into the rest of the milk. Stir, stir, stir some more. Then I pour the whole thing back and forth between the bowl and the pitcher a few times, like making a Manhattan.
Use the pitcher to pour the yogurt into the clean, dry jars. I find it much easier to have the jars in the machine as I pour, rather than trying to transfer them from the counter.
Another great feature of this machine is our new top-tier add-on. You can make two batches at once by adding this second level and another set of jars. Think of the possibilities. Plain yogurt for savory recipes on the bottom, sweet vanilla or fruit yogurt on the top layer for smoothies and snackin'.
For today though, we're just making a single layer.
Then it's simply plug in, set the timer up to 15 hours, and push the little red button. Glow little button, glow.
In case you're wondering, the lids weren't forgotten, they don't go on until after the yogurt is done incubating.
Just checkin' in partway through the process. The condensation is normal, and everything looks good.
Once the machine shuts off, you'll need to unplug it and remove the jars. Place the lids on and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight for the yogurt to cool and finish firming up. Like this!
Now that we've got some tangy fresh yogurt, let's get to the smoothies. Add 6 to 8 ounces (3/4 to 1 cup) yogurt to your blender.
Add 1 cup or so of your favorite fruits. I wish I could say these luscious berries were from my plants, but my crop is pretty small this year. I did buy these at our local farmstand just down the road.
So, for my Berry Blast, I'm using 3/4 strawberries and 1/4 maraschino cherries. NOT local, but such a favorite of mine I couldn't resist. Yep, I'm evil to the core.
Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of ice cubes (about 6 regular cubes).
Cover the blender, plug it in and whir on high speed or ice crush for 30to 45 seconds. Stop, unplug, and adjust the milk or fruit to get the consistency you like.
If you like a boost of flavor or sweetness, now is a good time to add a bit of sugar, honey, or even a few drops of extra-strong flavoring.
Re-plug and blend for another 30 to 60 seconds.
**Some blenders will tell you to add the ice cubes after the first blending; be sure to check your manual.**
Pour your smoothie into a fun and frosty glass, add a straw for sipping, and enjoy.
This basic recipe can open up a whole world of possibilities for smoothies. Please share with us your favorite combinations and smoothie tricks.
Please make, rate, and review our recipe for Homemade Yogurt Smoothies.