May 22, 2012

Homemade yogurt

I recently decided that I wanted to take a shot at homemade yogurt. Both of my kids absolutely love yogurt, but I have two issues with the store bought kind:

1. It is pricey even when you buy the store brand!
2. I can never find one that is both non-fat and doesn't have sweetener in it for the kids, so I either end up compromising and choosing a non-fat one (which I hate because I want them getting the milkfat for their little brain growth!) or buying a more expensive brand (which I hate- duh).

I heard awhile back that you can make yogurt in the crockpot and decided that it was high time I tried it. And you know what???? I am so mad I didn't try this earlier! This is probably one of the EASIEST things I have ever made. Period! And it is so tasty! Jameson is still getting accostomed to the thinner texture, so I want to try some ideas to thicken it, but here is what I did. I got the recipe from this site.

What you need:
  • A crockpot
  • A bath towel
  • One half gallon of milk (they recommend starting with whole milk since 2% or skim will be thinner. I plan to try these out once I get the hang of the thickening agents)
  • 1/2 cup plain, active culture yogurt (this is just the starter. After you make your first batch you can use your own yogurt as starter! There is also a starter available at health food stores, though I have never tried this method).
  • That's it!

 Now, before you get started, this involves almost no work, but a lot of time. You will want to start this about 5 1/2 hours before bedtime or first thing in the morning. If you do it at night it will be finished the next morning. But you will only work on it a total of MAYBE five minutes!

First, pour the entire half gallon in your crockpot (PS- mine isn't dirty- promise! Just stained from being much used!!!)

Turn on low and let cook for 2 1/2 hours. 

After 2 1/2 hour has passed, unplug the crockpot and leave sitting for 3 additional hours. This allows the milk to cool to a temperature that will not kill the active cultures in the yogurt.

Next, pull 2 cups of the warm milk from the crockpot and put in a bowl. Add the 1/2 cup yogurt into the milk and mix well.

Pour the milk/yogurt mixture back into the crockpot and stir well.

Put the lid back on the crockpot and wrap in a bath towel. Sit in a spot where it will be as undisturbed as possible. Let sit for 8 hours, or overnight. If it sits for over 8 hours, it won't be a huge issue, it will just be a tangier yogurt.

The next morning, open your crockpot and be astonished at your thickened yogurt! 

You can choose to flavor it now or with each serving. This time I made one cup that I premixed with the honey just to experiment! Honey is a great sweetener for it, but you can also do fruit or flavorings. I also have seen suggestions of jam or jello mix, but I haven't tried these personally.

This was the result! Two 32 oz containers plus about a cup leftover. These two containers of yogurt would have cost me $1.79 each from the store. Because I used yogurt from my previous batch for a starter, I don't really count that in the cost, so my only cost was the $1.00 for the milk! Even if you don't get lucky and find some marked down milk, it will cost you about $1.99 (in my area, anyway), which is still almost half the price for much tastier yogurt!


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