As I mentioned last time, our pediatrician told us we shouldn't give Clara cow's milk until she's at least one. But apparently stuff made from cow's milk–if you culture it, for example, or turn it into cheese–is fine. Go figure. I don't know the science behind this, nor can I say really care. I come from a long line of dairy freaks, so this was straight-up good news.
Cottage cheese, a particular favorite in my family (did I mention that I have a husband who can't stand cheese? It was the one serious concern I had before I married him.), made it into Clara's breakfast routine early on. Soon we were ready to try yogurt.
I'd been buying organic cottage cheese without guilt, but once I started checking out yogurt labels, I found I wasn't thrilled at the prospect of feeding Clara one of the commercial "baby-friendly" varieties. (Have you seen how much sugar there is in that stuff?) So I pulled my yogurt maker out of the closet. Last year, I wrote about how easy it is to make your own yogurt, and I have one of these to make it even simpler. You just heat up some milk, add starter, pour it into cute little pots and leave the yogurt to gestate overnight.
I confess I felt a small thrill of self-satisfaction knowing I'd actually made yogurt for my child. I mean, how lucky was she? That thrill died when I tried to get her to eat it. When I tasted the yogurt, I'd found it pleasantly tangy and rich–better than store-bought for sure. Clara did not appear to agree. After the first dab hit her tongue, she screwed up her little nose and pressed her lips together like a vise. Our first yogurt tasting was a total failure. As was our second. When she rejected it a third time, I realized it was time to face facts. My kid wasn't going to eat this yogurt as-is.
Rooting around in the fridge, I found some stewed blackberries I'd made the week before from some squashed berries that had fallen victim to some of the heavier produce in my farmers market bag. I strained some of the berries and their juice into the yogurt and tasted it. Tasty, but maybe even more tart than before. I needed something liquid and sweet, and I wasn't supposed to add honey. I spied a bottle of maple syrup and dribbled a little bit into the yogurt. I stirred and tasted again. Then I thought, "If my child doesn't appreciate this damned yogurt, then she's no child of mine."
This story has a happy ending (if it didn't, would I really be telling it?): Clara now loves yogurt. She still makes wonderful funny faces at the tartness, but now she opens her mouth for more before she's swallowed the last bite. I've made raspberry, peach, and blueberry yogurt, always cooking the fruit down with just a sprinkle of raw sugar to coax out the juices, and then sweetening the yogurt itself with a little maple syrup. If I run out of my own plain yogurt, I buy a plain, organic whole-milk variety and mix in the fruit and maple syrup. And I plan to freeze plenty of fruit purees now (more on freezing another week). That way, I can feed Clara homemade fruit yogurt all winter.
I haven't measured how many grams of sugar are in a serving of my homemade yogurt, and I don't plan to. If it's the same as the store-bought kind I initially rejected, well, I figure ignorance is bliss. —Merrill Stubbs
- Prep time 11 hours 10 minutes
- Cook time 25 minutes
- Makes about 6 cups
(40 ounces) organic whole milk
yogurt starter or 1/2 cup yogurt with active live cultures
Fruit puree (recipe below)
Maple syrup to taste
- Fruit Puree
ripe fruit (berries, chopped peaches or pears, etc.)
- Heat the milk gently in a large, heavy saucepan until it starts to steam. Remove the pan from the heat and let the milk cool to room temperature.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the starter or yogurt and about a 1/4 cup of the lukewarm milk until smooth. Whisk this into the saucepan with the rest of the milk.
- Transfer the milk to a measuring cup or bowl with a spout and pour carefully into seven 7-ounce yogurt jars (make sure these are clean and dry). Arrange the jars, without their lids, in the base of the yogurt maker and cover the base with the clear plastic lid. Plug in the yogurt maker and set the timer for 7 to 8 hours, depending on how firm you like your yogurt.
- When the yogurt is set, screw the lids onto the jars and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours.
- Once the yogurt is chilled, stir a few spoonfuls of the fruit puree and a bit of maple syrup (taste as you go) into each pot of yogurt.
- Fruit Puree
- Combine the fruit and sugar in a small heavy saucepan and add 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, cover and lower the heat until just simmering. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the fruit starts to soften and release its juices. Mash the fruit and strain it through a fine mesh sieve. Set aside to cool and then cover and refrigerate.