Ever thought about making your own yogurt but believed it was too time consuming and needed special equipment? Well, I am here to reveal a nice, simple way to make your own. In a crock-pot. No special equipment needed. Well, you do need a thermometer…
So, how do we go about making this wonderful, creamy substance? Well, for starters you need, well, a starter. For a yogurt starter you can purchase a starter (I bought some from culturesforhealth.com and it’s fantastic) or purchase a plain yogurt from the store. If you want a perpetuating culture (to be able to make more than one batch) you want to make sure it has Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus listed under the live and active cultures. When I first started making yogurt, I bought a small greek yogurt from the store to use for starter. I enjoyed the texture and the fact it had 5-6 cultures.
Next you need to figure what type of milk you want to use. A higher fat content will produce a thicker, creamier texture. A skim milk will produce a thinner yogurt, you can add powdered milk or gelatin to make it thicker. Do not add extra starter to make it thicker… the cultures will run out of food before the yogurt can set up and it will be thinner instead.
For 5 cups of yogurt you need:
5 cups milk (I like using 4 cups whole milk and 1 cup cream… makes it wonderfully creamy with a light sweetness.)
Crock-pot (1.5 quart) or yogurt maker (I have one that has 7 6-oz containers, works perfectly)
3 tbs starter
Note: If you want to change the amount of yogurt made… you really only need 1-2 tsp starter per cup. The 3 tbs starter above is the maximum you want to use for 5 cups. You could actually use a minimum of 1.66 tbs starter. If you had, say a 2 qt crock pot for a total of 8 cups milk you would use a 2.66 – 5.33 tbs.
So, basically the process goes like this.
1. Heat the milk to 160 degrees F.
2. Cool the milk to 105-110 degrees F. (Too hot or cold and the cultures won’t work.)
3. Add the starter, make sure it is well mixed.
4. Incubate 6-8 hours. Longer if needed. The temp has to stay within 105F and 110F for optimal culturing.
5. Refrigerate for 6 hours before eating. (I don’t always wait to eat some, haven’t had any issues. 😉 It just helps to solidify a bit further and halt the process.
If you want to do the whole process in the crockpot it takes about 3 hours for each the heating and cooling processes so you have 6 hours before you actually add the starter. I have recently found I prefer to heat up on the stove and then cool it by alternating it between pots until it reaches the right temp. The whole heating and cooling process only takes about 30 minutes with this method. Once you have added the starter, pour into your crockpot. Wrap the whole pot in a thick towel. Leave undisturbed for at least 6 hours. You can check it at this point. Just open the lid and tip the pot. Once it leaves the side in a solid mass it’s ready (not too solid… just not runny!).
If you want, you can strain the yogurt with cheesecloth and colander or kitchen towel to make it thicker. Depending on how long you let it sit, it can be thick and creamy like greek yogurt or more like cream cheese. I like making it thick like cream cheese. 🙂
I forgot to take the pic of it coming to temp. But here it is cooled to about 108 degrees F.
Adding the culture. Ok, so I wasn’t being terribly exact.
The wrapped crockpot. You can put it in your oven with the light on to help keep the temp even. I don’t do it because I would hate to turn on my oven and forget it’s in there. Knowing me, this WOULD happen!
Ah, my yogurt maker I was given for Christmas! All it does is keep it at a constant temp. I love using the containers for a quick snack for my girls. My youngest goes through a whole container in one sitting. And manages to get it everywhere! 🙂 If you use a yogurt maker, check the temp with your thermometer to make sure it keeps it at the proper temp.
Finished yogurt! If you don’t like it plain, add what you like to it! Berries, jam, honey, shredded coconut, nuts. Can even go savory. Add a little dill for a simple but nice dipping sauce for veggies. Make your own version of Ranch Dressing (I don’t even add oil!) just use some dill, garlic powder, ground pepper. A little salt if you like. Have fun with your yogurt!
Don’t have a yogurt maker but thinking of getting one? Check out culturesforhealth.com! (No, I don’t get paid for telling you about them, wish I did! Haha!) They have everything you could want that’s yogurt related. Starters, information, and yogurt makers. They have a maker for as low as $40. They also have a Chat Now where you can chat with someone and ask questions. They are nice and very helpful! They have other non-yogurt stuff as well of course! (Like cheese-making and sourdough paraphernalia!)
I made some Challah last night (haven’t made any in FOREVER!) Thinking of making a braided raisin cinnamon bread soon, I’ll keep you posted. 😉 So this morning I made some french toast, topped with strained greek yogurt and berries. Yum!
How do you like your yogurt? Enjoy!