My kids and I eat homemade yogurt on almost a daily basis, and I am still here to tell you about it!
Homemade yogurt might seem overwhelming, or a little scary – you are culturing bacteria after all, but it really couldn’t be easier. Plus it’s good for your wallet, it will definitely save you money, especially over buying the individual fruit flavored cups, and good for the earth because it saves on the processing and packaging of conventional yogurt.
I made my first batch of homemade yogurt just about a year ago, and I think I can count on one hand the number of times that I have bought yogurt since then. Over the past year of making yogurt, I have come up with a few tips and tricks that help me to make the the best yogurt (in my humble opinion).
I’m sorry that I don’t have any of my own pictures. I don’t usually think about taking pictures when I’m making, or eating for that matter, my homemade yogurt.
Easy Homemade Yogurt in the Crockpot
*Plug in a crockpot and turn on low. It’s very important to do this first so you don’t forget, and so the crockpot is the right temperature when you’re ready to pour the milk in – can you tell I know this from experience?
*Heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it reaches 190 degrees. (I use a candy thermometer I got at Meijer for $10). You can use whatever amount of milk you want – I usually do either 4 cups or 8 cups. You want to be careful not to let the milk burn on the bottom of the pan, and make sure it doesn’t boil over – so stir often and keep an eye on it.
Also, I have stopped checking the temperature during this step. It’s just one less thing to have to do. When the milk starts getting bubbly and frothy (or it boils over onto your stovetop) you know it’s done.
*Once milk reaches 190 (bubbling) remove from burner and run a sink half full of cold water. Cover the pan and place into water in sink. (This is kind of obvious, but make sure the water doesn’t go over the top of the pan, just part way up the sides.) You can add ice to the water as well, but I’ve found that it doesn’t really cool the milk down any faster, and that’s again one less thing to do. Can you tell I’m all about simplifying steps here?!
*Let milk cool down, stirring occasionally. Once milk has reached between 90 and 110 degrees (I’ve read different temps here, I usually do about 100 degrees), remove pan from water.
*Put yogurt starter into a bowl (I use glass) and pour about a cup of the warm milk over it and stir together. Use 2 Tbsp of yogurt starter per 4 cups of milk. Meanwhile pour remaining milk into heated crockpot. Pour milk and yogurt from bowl into the crockpot and stir it all together.
*Put the lid on, turn off and unplug the crockpot and wrap a heavy towel around it. Let sit for 6-10 hours. (I usually do around 8 hours).
*Place crockpot bowl in fridge to cool yogurt – this step is really important because it helps the yogurt to set better. Since I started doing this my yogurt has been nice and thick and creamy. If you don’t have room for your crockpot in your fridge, you can carefully ladle yogurt into containers and cool in the fridge. Don’t stir too much, it needs to be disrupted as little as possible in order to set well.
*Set aside about a 1/2 cup of yogurt to be used as yogurt starter for your next batch.
A few more tips:
Your yogurt starter should be plain yogurt that specifically says “Live and Active Cultures” on the package. I use Dannon, and have had success with both the regular (full fat) yogurt and the fat-free plain yogurt (that is all they sell in the small cups at my grocery store).
I use whole milk to make yogurt because we have switched to using all full fat dairy products. But, I know that my sister uses 2% milk with good results, although she says it’s not as thick as when you use whole milk.
If you are having trouble with your milk burning on the bottom of the pan, turn your heat down. It might take longer for the milk to heat up, but you should have less trouble with it burning.
It definitely depends on the price of your milk, but last year, I figured out that it cost me $1 to make 64 oz (8 cups) of yogurt, more than a $3 savings off Dannon plain yogurt on sale, and even greater savings compared to buying the individual fruit cups.
Our favorite ways to eat homemade yogurt are with a little raw honey and frozen fruit, usually blueberries, or topped with homemade granola. Here is a great way to make your own fruit yogurt to-go cups, instead of buying the individual ones: just mix the frozen fruit and honey into the yogurt in a container with a lid, and the fruit will help to keep it cold but will have thawed out by the time you are ready to eat it. Yum!
Have you considered making your own yogurt at home? Do you have any questions about it?
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