You must understand, homemade yogurt's not a new concept to me. When I was growing up, my family lived in Papua New Guinea for a couple of years, and that's one of the things my dad did each week -- he made yogurt. It was a time-consuming, multi-stepped process that there was NO WAY ON EARTH I would ever replicate. It was oh so very yummy, though. *sigh*
Fast forward to a couple of months ago. I was visiting my dad, and he had decided to make yogurt again -- "It's just too darned expensive." (You have to imagine this being said in a deeper, gruff voice.) :-) So I watched and helped him walk through all the steps -- sanitizing jars, measuring milk temperature, pouring, stirring gently, timing...UGH! There was noooooo way!
But...it didn't go quite right. The yogurt was pretty watery and the texture was funky, so I headed to Google to see what I could see. And all that I could see...was a lot of complicated yogurt recipes, UNTIL I hit the mecca of a lovely website known as www.yogurt-everyday.com, specifically the page http://www.yogurt-everyday.com/homemade-yogurt-recipe.html. In the middle of the page was a section that piqued my interest -- making yogurt in a crockpot. What??? You can do that? Skip all the sanitizing, temperature measuring, step after step? Yippee skippy!
It took me a while to get up the nerve to do it. I was still intimidated by the whole shooting match. (I'm still intimidated by making homemade yeast breads, but that, too, I shall overcome! I'll let you know how it goes!) Anyway, the challenge that I gave to myself in November (see previous post) gave me the push that I needed to finally make the leap.
It could not have been easier. It's so easy that I actually had it memorized without trying. Here goes. (Check out the website to see if I get it right!)
- Pour 1/2 gallon of milk (I use whole milk.) into your crockpot. (Do make sure the crockpot's REALLY clean.)
- Set your crockpot to low for 2.5 hours. (I have to set a timer that I can hear anywhere. I'm pregnant, and sometimes I would swear this child is eating my brain!)
- Walk away.
- When your lovely loud timer goes off, turn off the crockpot and set your timer for 3 hours.
- Walk away.
- When your lovely loud timer goes off this time, gently skim the skin off the top of the milk. (I've used a fork, a slotted spoon, a strainer-whatever-you-call-it-thingy-that-goes-with-a-fry-baby. I think the slotted spoon worked best.)
- Gently stir in 1/2 cup of plain yogurt that has live active cultures.
- Wrap & cover your crockpot with towels/blankets to keep it warm. (I use a thick beach towel over it and a beach mat that's HUGE to wrap around it.)
- Let it set overnight.
- Voila! Yogurt!
- At this stage in the game, I pour it into a pillow case lined colander to let it drain so it's a little thicker (see more about that below).
- Make sure you chill it well before you eat it...it's not too appetizing warm. *wrinkled nose*
My thought is, if we want to eat it just as yogurt, I'll probably go ahead and blend it...with some sugar and vanilla to flavor it up and have it ready for fruit and whatever else fun stuff we want to throw in. (When the one year old is older, I'll use local honey instead of sugar.) Right now, I'm just using it to make smoothies. Yesterday, I made Christmas smoothies for our afternoon snack -- 2 cups of the yogurt, 1 cup of eggnog, a couple of teaspoons of sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla, a few sprinkles of cloves (deep breath in...I heart cloves!), and some ice. Blend away. Yummy! My two year old, who's been iffy on smoothies before, drained it rather quickly. We'll be having Christmas smoothies again...probably this afternoon! Gotta make use of eggnog while it's around! :-)
I'm so excited about this! I can make about a gallon of yogurt a week for about $3.30 (I always buy Braum's yogurt -- no hormones, and it's family-owned.) as opposed to us buying about a gallon of yogurt for nearly $15 a week. Yeehaw! Sweet success! :-)