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4 Food Projects to Make Your Life Better This 2018

Tired of unrealistic new year resolutions that fall by the wayside before the summer? We suggest these easy DIY projects that will elevate your cooking, look good in your kitchen and help make eating healthy tastier and more satisfying for you. Plus, they’re quite easy to do, too! Happy 2018!

 

1. Homemade Plain Yogurt

If you’ve ever read the label on store-bought yogurt, then you know it’s full of gums, thickeners, a lot of other artificial ingredients and sugar. A homemade version can be a lot healthier, and is quite easy to make. You can use any cow’s, goat’s or carabao milk. Just remember full fat milk makes for thicker, creamier yogurt with great flavor.

Makes about 2 cups

hot water, as needed

4 cups whole milk

1 125-gram pack plain yogurt

1. Pour hot water into a heatproof bottle and place inside a small cooler, leaving enough space for the jar of yogurt. The warm environment in the cooler facilitates the fermentation of the yogurt. Set aside.

2. In a large ceramic or stainless steel pot, heat milk over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent skin from forming on top.

3. Clip a thermometer on the side of the pot. Stir the milk until its temperature reaches 180°F. Turn off heat. Pour hot milk into a prepared jar with lid.

4. Transfer thermometer inside the jar and leave to cool on the kitchen counter until the milk’s temperature goes down to 115°F. Scrape skin from the top and slowly stir store-bought yogurt into the milk.

5. Cover jar and place inside the prepared cooler with the hot water bottle. Keep in the cooler for 8 to 12 hours until milk turns thick and creamy. Then store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

 

2. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt can eat up a chunk of your grocery budget, and it’s so easy to make. You can use this to add creamy, nutritional boost to dips, dressings or use it in baking. Save the whey! When you thicken yogurt by draining its liquid into a bowl, freeze this liquid, called whey, which is packed with protein and is very nutritious. Add it to stocks or use it in baking as a replacement for water.

Makes about 2 cups

1 recipe plain yogurt

1. Place cheesecloth over strainer, letting the cloth follow the strainer’s shape. Place strainer over a bowl.

2. Pour plain yogurt into the strainer, cover with a plate, and store in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours. This allows the whey to drip through the strainer and create a thicker consistency for your yogurt. The longer you strain it, the thicker the Greek yogurt will be.

 

3. Pickled Watermelon Rind

What do you do with leftover watermelon rind? Pickle them, of course! Deliciously crisp and a snap to make, this atchara is perfect to pair with grilled meats. To prolong the life of your pickles, make sure to wash the pickling jars well and pour hot water in them for a final rinse. They can last up to a month stored in the refrigerator.

Makes about 1 32-ounce jar

1 watermelon

2 cups apple cider vinegar

1 cup water

1 1/3 cups sugar

2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons coarse sea salt

black peppercorns

1. Cut watermelon in half and then into wedges. Slice off flesh and reserve for eating. Leave a thin layer of red on the rind for color. With a vegetable peeler, remove outer skin from the rind and cut into chunky pieces, about 1/2 to 1-inch thick. Pack into jars.

2. In a non-reactive pot (stainless steel or stove-top glass pot), combine vinegar, water, sugar, sea salt and peppercorns. Bring to a boil over medium heat.

3. Lower heat and let simmer for 5 minutes. While still hot, immediately pour over watermelon rinds in jars until submerged. Cover and allow to cool completely before tightening the lid.

 

4. Strawberry Jam

Make healthy, pectin-free strawberry jam, or any fruit preserve for that matter, sweetened with honey or coconut sugar (yes it works!). The secret to this strawberry jam is the use of lemon to brighten the flavor and color and to add pectin to fruits that have little, such as strawberries. Aside from lemons, you can also use orange, lime or calamansi.

Makes about 1 cup

4 cups fresh whole strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced in half

juice and zest of 1/2 lemon, about 2 tablespoons

1 cup honey

1. Place strawberries, lemon juice, zest and honey in a medium stainless steel saucepot. Mix well.

2. Bring to a boil over medium fire, then lower heat and continue cooking until liquid reduces and thickens. Mash some of the strawberries for a thicker consistency, leaving the rest whole for texture.

3. Ladle into a sterilized bottle. Cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.

                              

The above recipes previously appeared in FOOD Magazine

Recipes and food styling by Tina Concepcion Diaz

Homemade Yogurt and Greek Yogurt photos by Paul del Rosario

Pickled Watermelon Rind and Strawberry Jam photos by Paulo Valenzuela