Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Worth Reading Wednesday ~ Kelly @ Our Lincoln Log

Lincoln Log

Homemade Yogurt—From Your Crock-pot!

Let's do some quick math. My husband and I each eat one yogurt per day each week—so that's 14 total. Bought in individual containers, that works out to roughly $7 per week, or $28 per month. If we are smart, we sometimes remember to purchase the larger, quart size containers that run about $3 each—each of us needs a whole container to get through a week's worth of lunches, so if we remember to do that, we'd save a dollar a week, or $4 a month.

Still with me? Trust me, you want to hang in there!

I recently learned a way to make my own yogurt, without a fancy yogurt making machine, without any special tools or chemicals, and the cost? About $1.00 a week for 2 quarts worth of yogurt (milk has been on-sale here for $2 a gallon lately)! We'd be going from $28 a month down to $4!!! Sign me up!!

Want to learn, too? Keep on reading!

Here's what you need to get started. The process is lengthy, but not complicated. It is best to start this about 6 hours before you plan to go to bed.

-1/2 gallon milk (whole milk is recommended to start, but I used 2% with good results). You want to make sure you don't use ultra-pasteurized milk—there is not enough of the good bacteria left to make the cultures work. Pasteurized—good. Ultra-pasteurized—not good.
-1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt with live, active cultures
-4 quart crock-pot
-optional thickening agents: 1 cup powdered milk OR 1 envelope unflavored gelatin; fine mesh strainer, coffee filters

Step 1: Pour milk into your crock-pot. Set to low heat, put the lid on, and let it cook for 2.5 hours. At the end of 2.5 hours, unplug your crock-pot, but leave the lid ON. Let it sit for 3 hours.

Step 2: After 3 hours, take 2 cups of the warm milk out of the crock-pot and add it to a medium bowl. Put the lid back on the crock-pot while you do this. Whisk in the ½ cup of plain or vanilla yogurt. At this time, if you are using a thickening agent, whisk in that as well (i.e., powdered milk or unflavored gelatin). Return mixture to the crock-pot and stir into the milk.

Step 3: Wrap the crock-pot in a large towel and let it rest for 8-10 hours.

Step 4 (optional): When you check the yogurt after 8-10 hours, you can thicken it further if it is not to the consistency you like. Place a coffee filter (or, alternately, you could line it with cheesecloth) inside a mesh strainer. Let the yogurt drain through the strainer/filter until it reaches the consistency you like. Reserve ½ cup to use as your starter for next time! The yogurt will keep for 7-10 days in the refrigerator. I keep mine in old yogurt containers I saved from the store.

Some notes from my experience:
-I tried thickening my yogurt with the gelatin. I think next time I'm going to give the powdered milk a shot. I wasn't overly impressed with the gelatin method.
-I sweeten my yogurt by stirring in a little honey before eating. You could also stir in sugar, agave nectar, or applesauce for sweetness.
-I have only tried serving fruit on top of the finished yogurt. You may be able to blend it in with a hand blender, but I haven't tried that yet.
-I am curious if you could add vanilla during step 3 to make vanilla yogurt. Next time, I may give this a try.

Overall, I was VERY pleased with this homemade yogurt! Yes, it was a long process, but each active step only took a few minutes, so it wasn't that it took up a lot of my time. I am curious to see what kind of results using different types of milk would produce (e.g., whole milk, goat's milk, soy milk, etc.). So, give it a shot! Have fun, be creative, and let me know your results so I can try them myself!

Thank you Kelly for this great idea! If you have something you would like me to post on Worth Reading Wednesday just let me know.


Audra said...

Thanks for the instructions- I can't wait to try this!