Jun 082011
 

I remember reading about making homemade yogurt eons ago. Never gave it a try. Contemplated it. Had my mother tell me, My goodness, I made yogurt for you guys all the time when you were little. — No wonder I have this “granola” strain in me. Even though I’m adopted, I have this mutated homemaker gene. I see where I get it. Through the baked breads, homemade yogurts, creative playing, scrap-saving, able-to-whip-up-a-meal-from-the-pantry mother of mine.

Back to yogurt. A cruise around the web turned up many similar posts regarding making yogurt in the crockpot:

You Can Make Yogurt in Your Crockpot!
Crockpot Yogurt (foreshadowing… also see bottom of post, “what to do when yogurt fails” – ahem)
Make Yogurt in Your Crockpot

Obviously tons of people are doing this. Should be easy enough for a cavewoman, right?

Whatever. The title, “first try” hints to the end result of my first experience with crockpot yogurt making.

See, when I’m meal-planning (which I was doing when I got the crockpot yogurt bug), like a good girl–  it is 7-something in the morning and I can tell you we’re having pork roast tonight and it is already in the crock– I also throw in some “fun” recipes/experiments to try. It helps take the sting out of balancing the checkbook trying to stretch a dollar and designing a menu around it. Supposedly making the yogurt falls under the umbrella of things you can make at home for cheaper. But can you buy sanity?

OK, it wasn’t all that strenuous, really. The recipes are nearly identical:

1/2 gallon milk, whole preferred, but 2% will do (not uber pasturized, some will say raw, some will say not homogenized, but all will say fresh)

1/2 cup of plain yogurt (with live, active cultures – apparently this was a FAIL culprit for some?)

crockpot

heavy towel or blanket

time, patience

  1. Pour milk in crock. Heat on WARM/LOW for 2.5 hours.
  2. Turn crockpot off. Unplug it. Let it sit, covered, for 3 hours.
  3. (Here is where some people take a temperature to make sure it is at about 110 degrees) Remove 2 cups of liquid from crockpot and put it in a small mixing bowl. Add the yogurt. Whisk thoroughly. Add yogurt/milk mixture back to the crockpot.
  4. Cover and wrap it up with blankets. I actually wrapped mine in a blanket, put it in a cooler and put a blanket over that. The key is to keep it warm. Some will put it in the over with the light on. Some will put a heating pad underneath. It is 90-degrees outside and I have my air on inside. I worried that might be a problem for me. At any rate, let that baby sleep for 8-12 hours. Overnight or all day (if you’re early enough to rise at 4am to start it).
  5. Put it in the fridge and let it cool for a few hours. Then enjoy. Add your honey, maple syrup, fruit puree, sugar or whatever you’re going to add to suit your taste. Use within a week or so.

Unless your yogurt is a watery mess like mine. Then you do what we call in soapmaking a “rebatch” to not waste your ingredients (read “what to do if your yogurt fails” on Girl’s Guide to Butter). Mine failed. If I have to take a guess, I’d say it was because of temperature. Or, maybe the boys rammed into the cooler a few times as it was culturing, disturbing the process. Who knows. All I can tell you is, at 9pm I nearly held ceremony as I unearthed my homemade yogurt, children eagerly awaiting. The lid came off, my finger went in… and it was pretty much the same consistency as milk. Thin. Watery. Tasted like yogurt, though. I thought about just having it as a drink like kefir(ish), but changed my mind.

Instead, I plugged the pot back in on high for a half hour while I ran to the store frantically looking for cheesecloth, chocolate (and some other stuff).

By the time I got home (1/2 hour or so), the curd was separating from the whey. I strained it using coffee filters (it took me a run to the store to remind myself that I had coffee filters– perfect for straining things like this, and at no additional cost).

After straining, I mixed on part of the ricotta-ish product with some vanilla and sugar. Fine for spreading on a bagel. The rest covered and left to strain overnight.

Some semi-strained whey:

Whatever can I do with the leftover liquid whey, you ask? Well, I used it to make soap after making paneer and yogurt cheese. Made a nice soap. But you can also (apparently – I didn’t try all this):

  • water your plants with it
  • drink it (add some bubble water and flavoring)
  • freeze it in an ice cube tray and add it to smoothies
  • feed it to your pet (I mixed some in with Wheezy’s dog food – he liked it)
  • replace the water with it in your favorite bread recipe
  • milk/water/buttermilk replacement
  • pancakes!!!
  • soups
  • soaking beans or grains (although some say it makes a bean tough)
  • season with spices and use as a meat marinade
  • pizza dough
  • make ricotta cheese

I’m wondering if it would be good for hair or skin, like in a bath or as a rinse (hair)? But I’m always thinking of hair and hair rinses.

On to try two…

  5 Responses to “Making Yogurt in the Crockpot – First Try”

Comments (5)
  1. If it is 90 degrees outside just put the yoghurt mixture in jars outside to firm up (it was invented in desert lands)- no crockpot necessary. Getting the mix too warm will kill off a lot of the bugs producing the nice thick yoghurt and will make it watery. Adding some dry milk at the beginning produces a thicker yoghurt. Some commercial milk has a lot taken out of it. The liquid that separates off can be used in soups.

    Commercial yoghurt often uses cheap thickeners like gelatin or carrageenan – best to avoid if you want real yoghurt.

    • I was wondering about this, Judy, thanks for bringing it up. I have the air on inside my house, but outside it has been balmy. Seemed like a better location to let the yogurt sit overnight, rather than trying to keep it warm in a cool house.

  2. I tried making crockpot yogurt also, and mine turned out rather runny too. I did a blog post on it and readers left several helpful comments including adding dry milk powder, adding unflavored geltatin, and many said the crockpot stuff is just runnier anyway. So there’s a couple more strategies we can try in our spare time :)

    Here’s a link to the post: http://themakeyourownzone.blogspot.com/2011/03/homemade-crockpot-yogurt.html

  3. Too much starter – only need 2 tablespoons of starter for that amount of milk (there are eight tablespoons in 1/2 C). Sounds like temp – and also sometimes you need a lot of time – up to 24 hours. The first thing to do next time is to put it back in and wait another half a day at least. Crock-pot stuff is not “just runnier.” Mine is pretty firm.

  4. Thanks for the tip, Sofya! I haven’t mastered the crockpot version yet. I’ve had better success with stovetop and oven. Possibly it is my pot, I don’t know.

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