Sunday, February 24, 2013

Making Yogurt in a Crockpot

I don't want you to think I have turned into a Birkenstock wearing, hemp loving hippie freak, but I was intrigued by something I saw while reading an article claiming "new ways to save $400 a month".  Making your own yogurt can save you money.  Never saw that one coming! 

Reading about making my own yogurt repulsed me.  Why would I willingly grow bacteria in my kitchen, in a rather large petri dish?  Why would I let food sit on my counter for over 8 hours at room temperature and then voluntarily eat it?  Why?  Maybe I needed some adventure in my life.  I had an extra half gallon of milk in the refrigerator calling my name.  It sounded like a win win situation, yogurt so delicious and I could save money.  The worse case scenario would be me admitted to the hospital a victim of self-inflicted food poisoning. 

Like many people, I am a fan of Greek style yogurt.  In case you are not aware, "Greek Style" yogurt is nothing more than regular yogurt that has been strained to remove the whey (liquid).  Are you shocked that the "Greek " yogurt that retails for up to $1.50 per 6 ounce container is actually regular yogurt in disguise?  Yes, I had been a victim of the trickery.  I researched a couple of recipes and I made yogurt at home.  It was delicious.  I am alive and did not become a food poisoning victim.  My 9 year old/ food critic said "This yogurt tastes better than the yogurt from the store".  "Can you make strawberry yogurt"?  Looks like I will be making yogurt often. Yogurt making is not labor intensive, but it is time consuming.  I would recommend making yogurt when you will be home all day.  This recipe was used as a guide. I did make some changes. The cost per 6 ounce serving came to $0.28 on this vanilla yogurt. 

Pour a half gallon of milk into your crock pot.  I used 1/2 percent milk.  Turn your crock pot on high and heat the milk until it reaches 180F.  Depending on your crock pot this could take 2-3 hours. 

I recommend using a thermometer to get a precise temperature. 

When the milk reaches 180F, it will start to look foamy.  Remove the crock from the heating element and cool at room temperature to 120F.  Leave the crock pot on for now.

I decided to make vanilla yogurt sweetened with agave nectar.  The yogurt is used for the active and live cultures.
Make sure your yogurt has live and active cultures listed.

Mix 1 cup of the 120F milk with the vanilla, agave nectar and yogurt.

Pour the yogurt mixture into the milk and stir.  Place the crock back into the heating element.

Unplug your crock pot and wrap it in a blank or large beach towel to keep it warm.

Keep the wrapped crock pot in a draft free location for 8-12 hours.  Yes, on the counter and unrefrigerated. I went out for the evening.
This is what I found at 1:45am, when I returned home. You can refrigerate at this time for regular yogurt.

Line a strainer with cheesecloth, coffee filters, or thick paper towels and place over a bowl. Pour in the yogurt and place in the refrigerator.

This is what my yogurt looked like after 6 hours.  Remove from the strainer and place in a storage container.  Discard the whey (liquid).
Very thick and creamy.
Individual serving size.


Crock Pot Yogurt

1/2 gallon of milk (I used 1/2 percent)
1 6-ounce container of plain yogurt with live and active cultures (I used plain fat free)
3 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 -1/3 cup agave nectar (I used 1/4 cup)

Pour milk into crock pot and heat to 180F.  This make take 2-3 hours.  Remove crock and let milk cool to 120F.  Mix yogurt, vanilla, and agave nectar in large measuring cup.  Add 1 cup of 120F milk to yogurt mixture and mix together.  Return mixture to crock pot.  Turn off crock pot and unplug.  Wrap crock pot in blanket and let sit in draft free area for 8-12 hours.  Unwrap and refrigerate.  Will keep for up to 2 weeks.

*For Greek yogurt:  Place yogurt in cheese cloth lined strainer placed on a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.  Remove from strainer after 6 hours and place in storage container.

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