I'd been toying with the idea for a while now...always held off out of fear, or what I thought was lack of time. But last night I decided to take the plunge!
I made HOMEMADE YOGURT! In my Crockpot no less!
I have the Crockpot Lady to thank. When I first found her recipe I was all brands of excited, but then I started reading a little deeper into yogurt making and got a little scared...seemed like all the sites I found warned about it being tricky, and time consuming if I wanted to do it "right". Well I decided to trust my Crockpot Guru and gave her yogurt recipe a try, with a few little adjustments I picked up along the way.
Oh Mah Gosh.
I made REAL yogurt!
Here's what you need:
Crockpot (she used a 4 quart, I used my 6 quart)
1/2 gallon milk (I used whole milk)
1/2 cup plain yogurt with live cultures (for starter)
1/2 cup nonfat powdered milk
Here's what you do:
-Pour the half gallon of milk into your crockpot and set it to low for about 2 1/2 hours. Watch TV or do some crafts for a little while. I took a nap! My crockpot tends to run hot too, so I cooked the milk for slightly less time.
-After the milk is heated up, turn the crockpot off and unplug it. Leave the cover on and let it sit for about 3 hours. Take the plain yogurt out of the fridge and let it warm to room temperature while the milk is cooling - just like with yeast, it's better if the cultures are awake! Hubby and I finished straightening up the house and watched some really bad TV reruns. I actually only let mine sit for about 2 1/2 hours and it seemed to be fine.
-Remove about 2 cups of the milk from the pot, and whisk it together with the plain yogurt and the powdered milk. Powdered milk is optional, but most sites I read recommended adding it so that you get a thicker consistency at the end. Return the milk mixture to the pot and stir to combine.
-Now for the fun part: wrap your unplugged crockpot in a heavy towel (I put a tea towel over the lid and then a bath towel over that, and tucked it in on all sides). Go to bed. No, really! The milk has to ferment for about 7-8 hours, so get some rest! Some sites I read said that 7 hours is the ideal time, Crockpot Lady recommended 8...the longer you leave it sitting, the tangier it will be. I stopped at about 6.5 hours and it was nice and thick but very mildly tangy.
-Pour into storage containers and refrigerate. The yogurt will keep for a week to week and a half. I bought small 8-oz Glad containers and portioned out 7 half-cup sizes (for the kiddo plus one to use as starter next time), and 6 three-quarter cup sizes for me. You can mix fruit in before portioning it out, but I think I will be adding fruit as I serve it so that it doesn't get watered down.
I was so excited when I took the lid off this morning! The crockpot looked like someone had dumped a carton of Dannon into it :) I had read horror stories about slime on the top, thin consistency...but it looked just perfect! And it was definitely milder tasting than the store bought plain yogurt, probably because I stopped the process a little early. I don't think I will ever buy yogurt at the store again. Here's the cost breakdown:
1/2 gallon milk - $1.00
1/2 cup starter yogurt - $0.87
1/2 cup powdered milk - $0.17
Total for 64 ounces of plain yogurt: $2.04, plus anything you want to add in.
Columbo, Yoplait, or other brands on sale: between $0.40 and 0.50 per 6 oz
- You need about 10.6 containers to equal the same amount of yogurt - cost would be $4.20-$5.30
Trix kid's yogurt in 4oz containers (plus all the artificial sweetener!) - $2.20 for a 6-pack
-It will take 2.6 packs to equal the same amount - cost would be $5.72
I used Stonyfield farms organic yogurt for starter - and I know the organic yogurts are even more expensive from the store! Here are a few of the add-ins I have tried with success:
-frozen or fresh pureed fruit (great for making baby yogurts!)
-Jell-o Powder (this comes out a lot like the Trix yogurts! use about a 1/2 tsp per half cup)
-Pudding powder - great for getting more "exotic" flavors like richer vanilla, pistachio - same measurements as for Jell-o)
-honey and granola
-1 Tbsp GOOD vanilla added with the live yogurt cultures and milk powder during the fermentation process
You can also use yogurt in the kitchen to substitute for Sour Cream in dips and cooking!