Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Adventures in Yogurt-Making
Since leaving my full-time job when my daughter was born three years ago, I am constantly looking for ways to make things or do things inexpensively. In the last year or so, Pinterest has been my go-to way of finding recipes or instructions for these experiments. I still Google specific things I am looking for, but many times Pinterest has inspired me to do things I never would have thought possible.
Yogurt-making was never something I intended to do on a weekly basis, but thanks to Pinterest, I make a batch of yogurt nearly every week. I use my crock pot, making it super-easy to transform milk into yogurt. There are no strange ingredients to buy in order to get started. I've talked to people who use their oven and coolers, but I'm not that ambitious, so this crock pot method is perfect for me! Here is a link to the web site that I use:http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/you-can-make-yogurt-in-your-crockpot.html
I was reluctant to try making yogurt because I had heard that homemade yogurt is thinner than commercially-made yogurt. I love Chobani Greek Yogurt, which is extra-thick and creamy, so the thought of runny yogurt just wasn't appealing to me. At $1.25 per cup, however, it is a bit costly when both my daughter and I are eating it on a daily basis. I can usually buy a gallon of milk for $2.50. I am able to make a half-gallon (~10 servings) of yogurt each week, costing just $1.25...the same as one 6 ounce serving of Chobani.
At first, I was discouraged with the consistency of the homemade yogurt, but have since discovered that adding slightly more "starter" (plain yogurt) during this process makes it much thicker, almost as thick as Chobani. I don't measure anymore, but I add ~3/4 cup instead of 1/2 cup. I don't add fruit to my yogurt until we're ready to eat it. In fact, we usually eat it plain, as it has a much milder flavor than traditional plain yogurt. We also like it sprinkled with granola or my daughter sometimes likes mini chocolate chips or M&Ms in hers.
This is how I make Homemade Yogurt, adapted from the instructions using the blog I referred to above:
8 cups (half-gallon) of 2% Milk
1/2 cup live/active culture plain yogurt (I used Dannon Natural Plain Yogurt)
Plug in your crockpot and turn to low. Add a half gallon of milk. Cover and heat 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. Then 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.
Let it sit for 8 hours.
Chill in a plastic container(s) in the refrigerator. Your fresh yogurt will last 7-10 days. Save 1/2 cup as a starter to make a new batch.