Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Make Your Own Yogurt in a Crock Pot / Slow Cooker

There are many many blog posts about making your own yogurt at home with your crockpot.  I get asked a lot for the recipe and how I do it so I decided to make a tutorial to share. This is not the only way to do it, but it is what works best for me.

I promise this is easy! Don't be afraid!

Crock Pot / Slow Cooker Yogurt

 1 cup Dannon plain yogurt or a yogurt starter culture
1 gallon milk, can be any fat content
(I use skim milk because I am on the Trim Healthy Mama plan, but I make it with whole milk for my kids.)

Yes you can cut this recipe in half or even fourths if you do not need an entire gallon of yogurt.

Supplies needed
Large Crock Pot / Slow Cooker (5 quart or larger)
Candy thermometer (these cost about $5.00 and are available at most grocery stores)
Medium sized bowl
Rubber spatula
Container with lid for yogurt when its done (I use a gallon size ice cream bucket, but you can use multiple containers if you wish)
Small container with lid to keep your starter in (needs to hold 1 cup)

Pick a day when you can start this early in the morning. The process takes a few hours but most of that is just letting it sit so the live cultures can work. You can also start your yogurt in the evening and let it sit overnight.

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Pour 1 gallon of milk into your crockpot, put on the lid and turn it on high. Set your timer or phone for 3 hours. If you go over 3 hours it will be fine, but you need at least that long to get it up to the right temperature to kill off any bad bacteria (180 degrees). You can use your candy thermometer to check the temperature if you want to, but I usually don't at this point. If I were using raw milk I definitely would though. 

By the way if you are short on time, this step can be done on the stove top. Use a heavy bottom pot and watch your milk carefully so it doesn't scorch. I have ruined a lot of yogurt this way because I'm so distractable, so using my crockpot saves me from myself!

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The next step is to let your milk cool off to 120 degrees. I do this by filling my sink halfway with cold water and setting my crock inside. You can also just let it sit and cool, but that takes longer. 

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A "skin" will form on the top of your milk as it cools. Use a fork to remove it, and feed it to your cat if you have one. My cats wait with baited breath for this treat! Sorry the picture is blurry. Its actually steamy. Condensation formed on my camera lens from the warm milk.

When your milk gets to 120 degrees, take it out of the water and put the crock back in its case. Remove 2 cups of the milk and place in a bowl along with the cup of Dannon plain yogurt or your starter culture. Stir it till its blended well, then add it back into your crock.

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Now its time to incubate it and let those magical cultures do their work! Lay two large bath towels out on your table side by side and place the whole crockpot in the middle.

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Wrap one edge of the towel over the long side. Then fold the other side over the top.

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Fold up the ends and your crockpot now has a nice cozy cocoon around it to keep everything nice and warm. Now simply leave it alone for about 7 hours. I leave mine right on the dining room table, but if its in the way for you put it somewhere else. Just don't forget about it! (I would!) Better yet set an alarm on your phone or something to remind you to go get it later on this evening. 

 7 hours is just a suggested time, its what works for me. The longer it sits the tangier it gets because the lactose is eaten up by the bacteria. It would be of great benefit to a lactose sensitive person to let it sit longer. If your first batch is a little too tangy for your liking, next time try 6 hours instead.

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Here is my yogurt 7 hours later. It is kinda lumpy at first.

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Stir it up well and it gets creamier and thicker.

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Take out a 1 cup portion and put it in a small container with a lid. This will be your starter for your next batch of yogurt. Pour the rest in another container or in serving size bowls if you wish. Scrape the edges with a rubber spatula to get it all out. Refrigerate overnight. In the morning it will be even thicker.

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And that's it! That wasn't too hard was it? Now I have a whole gallon of yogurt for less than $4.00!

You can also turn your yogurt into Greek yogurt, its easy too!

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