(Sorry for the late post. Computer problems.)
No more buying expensive yogurt at the grocery store! For the cost of a half-gallon (or less!) of milk, you can make yogurt at home that is healthier and tastier. It does take some time, but your patience will be rewarded.
Note: It takes 13.5 hours for the entire process so depending on what works best for you, you can start it in the morning or evening. Here are a couple of examples of start and finish times you could use:
Start: 7:30 AM Finish: 9:00 PM
Start: 5:30 PM Finish: 7:00 AM
Just remember, you need to be present at 2 1/2 hours into the process and again at 5 1/2 hours in. (unless you have a plug-in timer, more on that later.)
You will need:
- a slow cooker
- a 4 cup capacity measuring cup
- 1/2 cup of plain yogurt (for starter)
- 1 quart milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
- powdered milk
- a thick bath towel
- kitchen scale (optional)
- plug-in lamp/appliance timer (optional)
1) Mix up a quart (4 cups) of the powdered milk according to package directions and add it to the slow cooker.
My particular brand measured the powder by weight, hence the scale. I like to add a little water to the measuring cup, then the powder, then finish filling with water to the 4 cup mark. It’s easier to mix and I can make sure it comes to exactly 4 cups. You can also add extra milk powder if you’d like your yogurt to have more protein. I’ve heard it will make your yogurt thicker, but that hasn’t been my experience.
2) Next, measure out 4 cups of milk and add it to the slow cooker. Stir gently.
You can use any type of milk except ultra-pasteurized. I find the 2% gives the texture I like, but you could use skim, 1%, or whole. The more milk fat in your milk, the creamier your yogurt will be. I’ve even used half and half. Now that was some rrreeaallllyyy good yogurt.
3) Cover and turn the slow cooker on low for 2 1/2 hours.
4) Next, unplug the slow cooker. Leave the lid on and let sit for 3 more hours.
But what if you have to leave the house and can’t be back to turn it off after the alloted time? If you have a fancy schmancy slow cooker that you can program to turn off after 2 1/2 hours, you’re set. But if you have one like mine that can’t be set for 2 1/2 hours or that automatically goes to warm when time’s up, do not despair!
Optional steps 3) & 4) Plug your slow cooker into a plug-in lamp/appliance timer. Following the directions for your particular model, set it to turn off after 2 1/2 hours. Set your kitchen timer for 5 1/2 hours. Easy!
Now it’s time to add the yogurt culture. Before you do I would suggest you check the temperature of the milk. If it is above 120 degrees, it will kill your starter and you’ll just get sour milk for your trouble. I’ve never had it be over 120 degrees, but better safe than sorry!
5) Whisk a couple ladles full of milk with 1/2 cup live/active culture yogurt, either store-bought or homemade.
Don’t skimp here. The better the original culture, the better your yogurt will be.
6) Pour the milk/yogurt mixture into the slow-cooker. Stir to combine.
7) Put the lid back on the slow cooker and wrap a heavy bath towel all around it for insulation.
8) Let it sit for 8 hours.
Here’s what you should find at the end of 8 hours. Seriously, it’s like magic! The yogurt will be a bit thinner in texture than the stuff you buy at the store.
You can eat the yogurt as it is, or if you prefer your yogurt thicker or greek style you can put the yogurt in a coffee filter lined strainer over a bowl, cover, and put it in the fridge for a few hours.
Update: Be sure to save the liquid strained from the yogurt, you can use it in place of milk or buttermilk in baking. I used it to make pancakes the other day and my boys declared them the best pancakes ever.
Viola! Thick, creamy homemade yogurt!
I like to sweeten my yogurt with homemade jam, honey, or maple syrup. I used some blueberry nectarine freezer jam here. MMmmmm. You could also add whole fruit or fruit puree as well. One caveat, this yogurt will re-liquify if you blend it in a blender so I would recommend pureeing the fruit separately then stirring it into the yogurt.