Welcome to Around the World in 12 Dishes! If you have been following along, then you know that we have been making our way around the world learning about different cultures through the food people eat. The last country we visited was Australia and we had a great time making light and fluffy pavlovas. This month we have landed in French Polynesia, specifically the island of Tahiti. When thinking about Tahiti the first food that came to my mind was vanilla. We consume a lot of vanilla in this house.
Our first stop was the library to find out more about Tahiti and vanilla. What we discovered was a wonderful series of books “Biography of…”, by Crabtree Publishing. Each book in this series explores a different food or product; tea, rubber, wool, bananas, etc. My daughter was captivated by the book. She read me the entire section about harvesting vanilla. We learned that it takes about a year from the bean being picked, until it is ready to be sold. There are many steps in the ripening and drying of the beans. It really is an amazing process.
How does Tahiti fit into the history of vanilla? Well, Tahiti grows a unique type of vanilla bean. The flavour is different from vanilla from anywhere else in the world. In fact, it is the most desired and most expensive vanilla bean in the world.
|the girls investigating the vanilla bean…smells good|
After reading our book we were off to the grocery store to pick up some vanilla beans. We knew we wanted to make something with vanilla, but what? The girls wanted to make ice cream, of course. I thought it might be fun to try making vanilla yogurt. We have never made our own yogurt before (we found recipes here and here) and this seemed like a good time to try.
Crock Pot Vanilla Yogurt
8 cups whole milk
1/2 cup live active yogurt
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup honey
1. Pour 8 cups of whole milk into the crock pot. Turn the crock pot on low and allow the milk to reach 180F. This will take approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Check the temperature with a kitchen thermometer.
2. Once the milk has reached 180F, turn the crock pot off, remove the lid and wait for the milk to cool to 110F. This will take approximately 1 hour.
3. When the milk reaches 110F whisk in the yogurt, honey and seeds from vanilla bean. **To remove the seeds from the bean cut the bean in half (lengthwise). Run the back of a knife along the inside of the bean, scooping out the seeds. Scrape both sides of the bean.
4. When the ingredients are incorporated, place the lid on the crock pot and wrap the crock pot in a towel or warm blanket. Let the pot sit for 8 – 12 hours. Some recipes advise that you place the crock pot in your oven, ours worked fine simply left on the counter overnight.
5. After 8 – 12 hours open the crock pot. Line a strainer with 3-4 layers of cheesecloth and place the strainer over a large bowl.
6. Scoop the yogurt out of the crock pot and into the cheesecloth lined strainer. Place the bowl into refrigerator for 2-3 hours. This will allow the yogurt to thicken, straining off the excess whey (clear liquid).
7. After 2-3 hours the yogurt is done. Scoop into a storage container.
8. Serve with whatever you like; strawberries, blueberries, maple syrup, peaches, parfait, etc.
Now that we have made our own yogurt I think we might always make our own yogurt. It was smooth and silky…so good. The vanilla flavour was not overwhelming, very subtle. All in all our trip to Tahiti was fabulous.
It is time to hear from all of you. Have you been to French Polynesia or explored French Polynesia through play? Why not link up your French Polynesian post in our linky. We would love to see what you have discovered about this beautiful part of the world. Please visit some of the other posts in the blog hop…there are some incredible dishes and crafts already linked up.