Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Homemade Yogurt in a Slow Cooker

For the last month I have been growing food for my family, but not in a garden!

I have been making yummy cultured foods: homemade yogurt and milk kefir!   

These are "grown" using probiotics.  The yogurt uses a yogurt starter (a bit of yogurt from a previous batch or from a store-bought yogurt) and the milk kefir uses live kefir grains (my little cauliflower people).

Today I will share about how we make our yogurt, which is based off of two recipes.  The first recipe is from The Simple Dollar (click blog name to jump to recipe) and the second is from Keeper of the Home (click blog name to jump to recipe).

So this isn't my personal recipe but my take on these two variations.  Overall, making homemade yogurt isn't difficult, time consuming or scary.  The results are fantastic!

First, gather ingredients and supplies
I usually make a 1/2 gallon at a time, unless I find the milk on sale!

  • Two quart-size glass jars 
  • slow cooker (Crock-Pot)
  • thick towel or two
  • 4-cup glass measuring glass
  • 1/4 cup for measuring
  • 1 cup for measuring (not pictured)
  • candy thermometer
  • pot pads (not pictured)
  • 1/2 gallon milk
  • baking spatula
  • wooden spoon
  • large pot
  • yogurt "starter" (small portion of store-bought or homemade yogurt with live active cultures)

  1. Plug-in slow cooker and set to "Low" (sorta like preheating your oven)
  2. Pour milk into pot on stove and set to medium
  3. Latte-ish stage, just before reaching 185 F (85 C).
  4. Use wooden spoon to stir now and then, watching for temperature to reach 185 F (85 C)  This is a pretty easy part, I don't really start watching the milk carefully until my thermometer hits 155 or 160 F (68-73 C), then it starts to heat fast!  At about 185 F (85C) the milk should look frothy-foamy, sorta like a latte  yumm....
  5. Meanwhile fill your sink with two or three inches of water, enough that the pot will be 1/2 way submerged; I found 1/2 of the sink (as mentioned in Keeper of the Home) to be WAY too much water
  6. Once the milk hits 185 F (85 C), transfer to the sink of cool water                 *Caution - this is when baby and toddler supervision comes in mighty handy - or a very temporary blocking-off of the kitchen!
  7. Cooling!  I've read that putting our hot cast iron in water can be problematic - but no problems for us.
  8. While the milk cools to somewhere between 110 and 90 F (I prefer 110 - 100 F or 43-37 C) measure 1/4 cup of yogurt "starter" into the glass measuring cup  
  9. When the milk is cooled to the above temperature range, scoop about a cup into the yogurt waiting in the 4-cup measuring glass.  Stir together!
  10. Pour milk from large pot into slow cooker, turn heat off and unplug (please don't start a fire!)
  11. Pour mixture from 4-cup measuring glass into crock pot (this is how your milk acquires the cultures to make yogurt)
  12. Cover slow cooker with the lid and wrap snugly in towel(s)
  13. Snug, warm and tucked away.
  14. Shove into a nice warm corner for 6-8 hours OR set outside in hot place (not a problem here in Louisiana when its 82 F at 8:15 am) for 6-8 hours.  The longer it sits, the more tart it will become.
  15. Set a timer - I know that seems crazy but it really helps!  If you don't have a timer you can set for that long, put a sticky note on the yogurt, indicating the time started (tucked away or set outside) and of time to finish it (move to fridge)
  16. Finish your yogurt off by sticking it in the fridge overnight (or all day if you let your yogurt culture at night)
  17. When it has been refrigerated about 8 hours, it should be firm and taste delicious!  If you used whole milk (most store-bought yogurts don't) then your yogurt will be that much more creamy and yummy.  You can portion it into glass jars or leave it in the slow cooker.  Keep refrigerated.  Lasts a week or two!
Bon app├ętit!

Have you made yogurt before?  Did this recipe work for you?  Do you prefer the taste of homemade yogurt?  (We do!) There are so many various ways out there!  Sharing is welcomed!

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