Last weekend I made my first successful batch of homemade yogurt in the crockpot! About a year ago, I tried to make a batch after watching Alton Brown’s Good Milk Gone Bad. Sadly, I didn’t mix in the powdered milk enough and ended up with little powdered milk globs suspended in partially successful yogurt. I was grossed out and had to throw out the batch. I couldn’t use my immersion blender to try and break up the powdery orbs because that would cause the yogurt to separate too much. To make matters worse, I sprung for the good stuff and got expensive organic milk, organic powdered milk, and organic yogurt. I hung up my apron on homemade yogurt that day.
Fast forward to now. Having read through The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You can Stop Buying & Start Making, I was inspired to have another go with homemade yogurt, only this time, things would be different. I wouldn’t buy the fancy organic stuff (I think I would just break down if I wasted another penny on this experiment) and I used my immersion blender up front.
This time around, I was also a little more freehand with the process. In her book, Alana uses a yogurt maker. I don’t have one, nor do I want one. Having read a number of blog posts on making yogurt in the crockpot (the most helpful being from Creating Naturally and One Good Thing by Jillee) and watching Alton do it at least twice, I felt a little more confident with doing what I need to do with what I have on hand.
You can follow either of their directions, but here’s where I made my own alterations. There are a tong of posts with the same directions, so I’m not going to write them out here. I recommend you read my suggestions first before consulting other blog’s directions.
**Make sure all your utensils are nice and clean before starting**
1. I used a half gallon of 1% milk. Instead of blending the powdered milk into the entire crockpot container, I took out a small amount (about 2 cups) and put it in a tall tupperware container along with a cup of powdered milk. Using an immersion blender, I blended until my hearts content (about 2 minutes) to make sure everything was lump free. I then poured this mixture through a strainer (to catch any lumps) back into the crockpot and stirred to combine). Can you tell that I wasn’t playing around this time?
2. To reach 180 degrees in my crockpot took FOREVER! During the last 30 minutes, I turned mine up to high so I wouldn’t have to wait even longer. If you’re going to make yogurt, definitely start in the late morning on a day when you don’t have any errands. I was up until about 11pm because I started late in the day :-(.
3. To bring the temperature of your milk down to 110 degrees quickly, fill your sink with cold water and ice and place your crock in there. Monitor with a thermometer and add more ice (or ice packs as I did) as necessary. Take the crock out of the water at about 113 because there will be residual cooling.
4. Once the temperature was down, I put 1/4 cup of plain yogurt in a small bowl and whisked in about a cup of the warm milk. Then I added that back to the crock and whisked to combine.
5. I turned my oven to warm as I was cooling my mixture to make it nice and cozy for the cultures :-). Once I put the crock in (covered with a towel) I turned it off and turned on my oven light. I didn’t separate things out into mason jars as I felt that the crock would do a better job at keeping things warm.
I let mine sit overnight for about 12 hours and I’m happy to report that my yogurt turned out beautiful! I will definitely make it again, especially because I can continue to use my own yogurt as a starter for a while. Here’s what it looked like in the morning after I stirred it around a bit:
It may look kind of strange, but this is what it’s supposed to look like. I really like Greek style yogurt so I let mine strain in the fridge. I allowed mine to strain for 5 hours, which I think was a tad too long. It’s not anything terrible, it’s just that my yogurt is super thick. I tell myself I’m getting a super dose of protein :-). Next time I’ll go for 3-4. I just lined a mesh strainer with paper towel, poured in the yogurt, covered it with plastic wrap, and set it over a bowl. I had to use two strainers because I had so much yogurt.
I got one 32 ounce container plus a cup and a half of yogurt and about 4 cups of whey after straining for 5 hours. I got a gallon of milk on sale for $2.69, so I would say this is worth making it yourself, especially if you save the whey to use in baked goods.
I saved the whey and used it to replace the water in my favorite pizza dough recipe. It made a very nice dough that I froze for later.
I was so happy that things turned out delicious this time. I love topping mine with a drizzle of honey and some crunch granola. So yummy!