Friday, July 16, 2010

Frugal Friday: Homemade Yogurt

No fancy equipment. Just you, a towel, a crockpot, milk, and a little yogurt.

Mindlessly using up our grocery money for the month was the final motivation I needed to learn how to make yogurt at home. I have always wanted to do it but felt intimidated. This recipe is the least intimidating way to enter the world of yogurt-making!

I found the original recipe here. The recipe below is my edit without all the chit-chat and with my own notes.


Homemade Yogurt in a Crock Pot
  • 4-quart crockpot or larger
  • 8 cups (half-gallon) of whole milk (pasteurized and homogenized is fine, but do NOT use ultra-pasteurized)
  • 1/2 cup store-bought natural, live/active culture plain yogurt (to use as a starter. Once you have made your own, you can use that as a starter.)
  • thick bath towel

Make your yogurt on a day when you are home for the most part.
Plug in your crockpot and turn to low.
Add an entire half gallon of milk.
Cover and cook on low for 2-1/2 hours.

Unplug your crockpot.
Leave the cover on, and let it sit for 3 hours.

When 3 hours have passed, scoop out 2 cups of the warmish milk and put it in a bowl.
Whisk in 1/2 cup of store-bought live/active culture yogurt.
Dump the bowl contents back into the crockpot.
Stir to combine.
Put the lid back on your crockpot.
Keep it unplugged, and wrap a heavy bath towel all the way around the crock for insulation.
Go to bed, or let the crockpot sit for 8 hours.

In the morning, the yogurt will have thickened--- it's not as thick as store-bought yogurt, but has the consistency of low-fat plain yogurt.

Chill in a plastic container in the refrigerator.
Your fresh yogurt will last 7-10 days.
Save 1/2 cup as a starter to make a new batch.

Optional flavoring
In our house, we eat plain yogurt, but you can sweeten yours.
  • You can add honey or stevia for sweetening.
  • Blend in batches with your favorite fruit (mango, strawberry, blueberry, etc.) to the serving you will be eaten right then. If you do it to your entire batch, the yogurt will become runnier from the liquid in the fruit. When you blend in the fruit, bubbles will form and might bother you.They aren't a big deal, and will settle eventually.

For thicker yogurt:
My first batch turned out tasting like yogurt but runny like a yogurt drink, so that's how we used it. My crockpot either didn't heat high enough or our air conditioner was on too high. I'm leaning toward the latter. :grin: Here are a couple suggestions if you want a thicker yogurt. (Which I do!)

  • To thicken the best, add one packet of unflavored gelatin to the mix right after stirring in the yogurt with active cultures. (This variation might also help keep a thicker yogurt if you decide to mix fruit into your entire finished batch.)
  • Mix a couple tablespoons of non-fat milk powder right after stirring in the yogurt with active cultures.

For Greek-style yogurt:
I'm not much interested in this technique since it cuts down on the monetary savings, but I know a lot of you out there love Greek-style.
  • Line a colander with a coffee liner or cheesecloth and let the liquid drip out of your plain yogurt. The remaining yogurt will be as thick as sour cream, but you will end up with about half the volume you started with.

Future experimenting
I will be trying yogurt-making using straight probiotics instead of a yogurt starter to see if that will work as well. Probiotics by the bottle are way cheaper and they don't come with the pectin store-bought yogurt contains.

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