Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Making it at Home: Yogurt

I have never really enjoyed yogurt all that much but I have found recently that I can tolerate Greek yogurt and my littlest one likes yogurt quite a bit and with it packing in the protein I like to give it to her. I do find it to be very expensive though and had been thinking about making it at home to save money.

I was browsing the internet and came upon a few recipes for yogurt that did not seem all that complicated but they required a large cooler full of 130 degree water plus a lot of other temperature taking during the process and lets just say I am usually to distracted during my day to do a good job of keeping track of this. 

I was about to go for it anyway when I ran into this website called A Year of Slow Cooking that happened to have a recipe for making yogurt in the crock pot with not really any attention needed except for adding the ingredients, turning off the crock pot after a while and covering it in towels.

Well I changed the recipe a little bit after the first time of using it to add a little more fat (for my little one who is way way low on the growth chart) and to make it thicker by straining the yogurt making it into Greek yogurt.

Here is what I came up with which is mostly credited to A Year of Slow Cooking you should check them out.

What to Gather

8 cups of whole milk (half a gallon)

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (optional for higher calorie content, slightly thicker yogurt)

1/2 cup of store bought yogurt (you only need this the first time after that just save 1/2 cup from your batch)

Crock pot

Thick bath towel

Cheese Cloth



Fruit/Honey/Maple syrup/cinnamon for serving

Set your crock pot on low heat. Add the milk and whipping cream. Let it heat, covered, for 2.5 hours. Turn the crock pot off (unplug) and let it sit for 3 hours. (I have found that letting the yogurt sit on the counter for the last 15 minutes of this helps it not cool everything down too much. In a bowl add the 1/2 cup of yogurt and whisk with 2 cups of the heated milk. Whisk back into the milk in the crock pot. Cover it back up. Cover the whole crock pot with heavy towels to help keep the heat in. Let it sit for 8 hours or overnight, the longer you let it sit the stronger it tastes. 

(This next step is optional and just makes it thicker more like Greek yogurt, higher protein ratio.)

At this point line a colander with cheese cloth that has been folded so that there are about 4 layers of the cloth. Place the colander over a large bowl or the sink. Pour the yogurt into the cheese cloth. You will see that it is draining a liquid. The longer you let it drain the thicker the yogurt will be. It is helpful to stir it sometimes so that the liquid can get to the bottom. I usually lose patience after 20 minutes but if you are going to do it longer place it in the fridge while it is draining. 

Refrigerate for 7 to 10 days save 1/2 a cup to make your new batch. 

Once it is drained you can put it into containers and refrigerate and it is ready to eat. When we eat it we like to warm up some frozen berries, add in a little honey or maple syrup and maybe a tad bit of cinnamon. Or check out the smoothie recipe from a while back that is great too!

I really like that we control the amount of fruit and sugar content. I hate going to the store and looking at the yogurt they have and seeing that it has corn syrup or sugar and the sugar content is nearly as much as a soda (are you kidding me?) no wonder I always have thought they were sickeningly sweet. We had only been getting plain yogurt but the Greek Yogurt can cost more than a dollar for only 5 oz.

On the other hand this yogurt only costs about $3 for the whole batch. On A Year of Slow Cooking she figured out that it costs more or less 1/10 the amount to make it at home. That was for YoBaby, I think Greek yogurt is even more expensive so think of the savings!

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