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How to Make Your Own Yogurt in a Crockpot
I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of yogurt. My stomach doesn’t tolerate lactose very well, so I tend to buy Greek yogurt, which is lower in lactose and slightly more expensive. I really wanted to start making my own yogurt because I eat it for breakfast and for a snack during the day. After some research, I found a recipe I liked and gave it a try. It turned out amazingly well! I used the brick-pot yogurt method – it’s basic, requires only two ingredients, and makes a lot of yogurt. You’ll only spend $5-7 on materials (I’ll break down my costs for you at the end!) and end up with yogurt for the entire week, if not longer. The great thing about this method is that you can pretty much set your yogurt and let it set overnight or while you’re away at work. And, if you decide you have enough yogurt, it’s easy to make cheese or dip from the rest! So, let’s not waste time here. You will want to go out and make your own yogurt as soon as you read this!
What you will need:
- Milk (I used 1%)
- Plain yogurt (I also used 1%) with live cultures
- Crockpot (any size – mine is 1.5 quarts)
- A dark colored towel or blanket
- Cheesecloth (A clean, unbleached white shirt, bed sheet, or pillow will also work)
Pour milk into the jug. Mine holds 1.5 quarts, so I put in 4 cups of milk. Most large crockpots should hold 8 cups comfortably. Leave a little extra room to account for the foam it will produce, as well as the yogurt you’ll need to add.
Cover your crock pot and turn it on low for about an hour. The milk should reach about 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Turn the jar off and let it sit for about 30 minutes – keep it covered. This should cool the milk to a comfortable 115-120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Add a small amount of yogurt to the mixture to start the process. Since I used 4 cups of milk, I put in 1/4 cup of yogurt. If you used 8 cups of milk, put in 1/2 cup, and so on. You don’t need to add a lot of yogurt to start the yogurt process.
Wrap the jar with your towel. The key is to make sure it stays warm in a dark, quiet environment. That is when the bacteria will be most active.
Wait 6-12 hours. If you wait a shorter time, the yogurt will be more runny and not as spicy. It will have a higher lactose content. If you wait 10-12 hours, you will get a thicker, tangier yogurt, similar in taste and consistency to Greek yogurt.
Depending on how thick you like your yogurt, you will need to strain it a bit. You’ll notice that it’s still pretty runny at this point, but that doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong.
I set up a bowl to catch the whey, and put a small strainer on it to strain the yogurt.
Next, place your cheesecloth over the strainer. I used an old pillow for mine. Pour in your yogurt. Don’t worry if some of the whey has already separated; it will filter again.
Tip: Whether you choose to use an actual cheesecloth or a t-shirt/towel alternative, make sure the fabric is untreated with chemicals, and hasn’t been washed with detergent recently. You don’t want your yogurt to taste like soap.
If you want a thicker yogurt, cover this and put it in the fridge. Let it drain for a few hours, and you’ll end up with your homemade Greek yogurt. If you want something like plain yogurt, strain it for only half an hour to an hour. You can test it each time to see how it turns out.
Once you are done, you can collect the whey and store it. Use it instead of milk in shakes or baking recipes. Maybe someday I’ll try more things – but I used it in my protein shakes and it worked amazing!
As promised, here is the cost breakdown:
- 1 gallon of 1% milk (pasteurized, non-organic): $2.99
- 1 quart of plain 1% yogurt: $2.99
- So, for $6, I could make 16 cups of yogurt, or about 16 servings. That’s only about 38 cents per yogurt.
I’m sure I could do this for an even lower cost if I managed to find a better brand of milk and yogurt, or if I had a coupon. I’m not a big milk drinker so I haven’t done much research. However, I think I did pretty well.
You can also use half of your ingredients for yogurt and do something different with the other half – make your own cheese, dips, frozen yogurt, or do something totally crazy and creative. No matter what you choose, you’ll love experimenting with your own homemade yogurt. You’ll never want to buy store-bought yogurt again!
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