Here's the first installment of my inner Martha coming out. I was cruising the blog-o-sphere last week and found a recipe for homemade yogurt in the crockpot. My kids BIG HEART yogurt. All of them. So, since we go through 16 yogurt sticks and a 32 oz container of yogurt every week, I thought I'd make some. It didn't sound that hard...
8 cups (half gallon) milk....they recommend using whole til you get the hang of it then you can use a reduced fat version if you wish but people posted that they used 1% and skim with good results...more on this later)
1/2 cup yogurt starter (this can be 1/2 cup of active culture store-bought yogurt or yogurt starter from the health food store...guess which option I chose?)
Pour the milk into a crockpot (4 or 6 quart works well) and turn it on low for two and a half hours. Unplug and leave covered for 3 hours. Scoop out 2 cups of the milk and whisk in the yogurt starter. Pour that mixture back in with the milk and stir to combine. Replace lid and wrap the crockpot in a heavy bath towel. (I wrapped mine and put it in the oven that I had preheated to 100* and turned off) Then allow this to sit for 8-12 hours (go to bed, leave it alone). The longer it sits, the tangier it gets....so closer to 8 hours will be sweeter than 12 hours...TADA! Yogurt!! That's it. Easy peasy, right?! I thought so.
Riley was my first guinea pig and he didn't roll his nose up at it! Mine sat for close to 13 hours so it wasn't "sweet" but the soury tang was good. I used whole milk and it wasn't too thick, but wasn't watery either, the lower the fat content the thinner the yogurt will be. There are two possible remedies for this....when whisking the starter into the milk, add two tbsp dry milk powder (not instant!) or an envelope of unflavored gelatin. Many people have had good luck with those options. Or a third option is to line a strainer with cheesecloth and strain your yogurt. This will make it really really thick like sour cream. I believe this is what they call "greek yogurt". The whey that you strain out can be saved for other uses. I know that it works for making dog treats if you do that....
Now, who likes plain yogurt? Not me! At the very least I like it vanilla. Some fruit is nice, also. Here's where the fun part is! Stir in some flavor. I used strawberry freezer jam in part of the batch and that turned out really well. I didn't have to add sugar to the yogurt since the jam has plenty to spare. This morning, we added some raspberry jam to the plain and it was awesome! A little vanilla a powdered sugar might be nice, too. Maybe mango? The possibilies are only as limited as your family's palate! Mine like fruit...maybe you have a baby and want to mix in some sweet potatoes or something. Can't hurt to try, right?!
Oh, and I made this Saturday and finished it Sunday morning. There's about one cup of yogurt left right now....I think they liked it.
OH! I almost forgot! You can use the yogurt that you made for starter on the next batch one or two times if you used store bought yogurt or longer if you use the starter from the health food store. And your homemade yogurt will keep as long as 7-10 days....if your family doesn't eat it all by then! Enjoy!!