Cooperative Extension of Niagara County realized last fall that the homemade food movement had hit a louder note in Western New York when more than 30 people crowed about classes they took to raise backyard chickens. “People have been asking since, ‘What other classes are going to be offered?’ ” said Amanda Henning, 31, Extension agriculture and food systems educator.
The buzz gave rise to a series of homesteading classes that will start March 31 with a class Henning and Jen Regan, an Extension community educator, will teach on making yogurt and butter. Henning – who with her husband, Scott, bought a 26-acre farm in Burt last year and plan to grow and sell strawberries – also will teach workshops on raising chickens, making fruit jam and crafting homemade soap. “People are really interested not only about what they’re going to be eating,” she said, “but what goes into their body products. That’s why we have a couple of classes focused on that.” See Page 4 for a complete list of classes open to residents in and outside Niagara County.
Q. How easy is it to make yogurt and butter at home?
Making yogurt is a little bit easier. It takes about 15 minutes of hands-on time. All you need is a mason jar and a cooler. It’s healthier because you’re controlling the two ingredients: milk and yogurt. You’re going to have to buy a half-cup of yogurt. A little container will do. You need the active, good bacteria in there to add to the milk. You’re going to cook it and let it set. After that, you can use the yogurt that you made as a starter. Butter is a little bit harder. We’re going to be putting heavy cream into a container and shaking it to show people that it does take a long time, but we’ll show them other ways to make it at home.
Q. Can you make healthier and cheaper yogurt at home than you can get in the store?
I like to use 2 percent milk but you can do it with other kinds. We’ve tried to price it out a bit, and obviously it can vary on whether you’re buying organic milk or not. Using a gallon of conventional milk, it will cost about 75 cents to $1 to make a quart, versus already-made yogurt in a store that is going to cost you $2 to $3. If you eat a lot of yogurt, that can be a huge savings over the course of a year. Plus you can control the ingredients. A lot of yogurt that you purchase in the store has added sugar, or artificial color, flavors or preservatives that aren’t necessarily bad for you but you probably don’t want to eat a whole lot of them, either.
– Scott Scanlon