Monday, September 12, 2011

Crockpot yogurt

You're right: "crockpot" and "yogurt" do not seem to go together. Or do they?

Guess what? The two actually mix... quite well. I found this recipe for homemade yogurt in the crockpot and, partially because I love homemade and partially because I had to see it to believe it... I gave it a go. I have a Donvier Yogurt Maker which I've used frequently and get good results with. But everyone knows that the crockpot is the epitome of easy in the kitchen, so if this recipe was a success, bam! I've made it twice now and, while you might think that a vat-o-yogurt would be too much, we plow through the stuff like there's no tomorrow. Plain yogurt, loaded with good bacteria, should be a staple in every diet. It is so good for you. The girls have had organic yogurt almost daily since we could first feed it to them. John and I eat yogurt almost daily (and maybe twice-a-day now that it floweth over).

Crockpot Yogurt

  • 1/2 gallon organic whole milk
  • 1 C organic plain yogurt (this is the "starter", which now I just reserve 1 C of the homemade stuff and stick it in the freezer for the next batch)
    • Pour 1/2 gallon milk into crockpot
    • Put lid on and turn to high for 2 hours (the milk should be bubbling a bit, with steam rising, but not quite boiling)
    • Take lid off and let sit, uncovered for 1 hour (this cools the milk to a safe temperature to add the starter without killing the bacteria - I have the yogurt thermometer from my Donvier maker, so I used it the first time and it took 1 hour for the milk to cool)
    • In a separate bowl, whisk 1 C of the hot milk into the 1 C plain yogurt starter (this slowly raises the temperature of the yogurt rather than dumping it all at once into the hot crockpot)
    • Pour the milk/yogurt mixture back into crockpot and whisk until fully combined
    • Unplug crockpot, put lid on, and wrap with a towel (I used a clean bath-sized towel; this creates some insulation so that the milk cools very slowly, allowing the bacteria to multiply, etc...)
    • Place towel-covered, whole crockpot into the oven and let sit for 10 hours (the oven should be turned OFF, this is just a nice draft-free place to tuck it away)
So, last night I started the process at 6:00 pm, pouring in the milk and turning in on to high. At 8:00 pm, I took the lid off the crockpot and let it start to cool. At 9:00 pm I added the starter and moved it into the oven. At 8:00 am this morning, I transferred the yogurt to the fridge and it's now firm, cool, and ready to eat. I saved two 32 ounce store-bought yogurt containers and both are filled from this batch, with 1 C in the freezer for the next one. For $3.99, I have 64 ounces of homemade, whole milk, organic yogurt. 

And, if you are a Greek yogurt eater, this makes incredible Greek yogurt - just strain it through some cheesecloth (as pictured above). We discovered Greek yogurt when I was pregnant with the girls - I craved full-fat milk and yogurt my whole pregnancy and nothing in the world tasted better than Greek yogurt with a swirl of honey. Which, by the way, is what we typically use to sweeten, if needed. I prefer plain yogurt because it has no sugar and it couldn't be easier to jazz up yogurt. Also, when you have plain on hand, it's so easy to toss into savory dishes, sauces, or dressings instead of sour cream or mayo.

Crockpot yogurt. A nice combination, afterall.

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