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Friday, June 10, 2011

Homemade Yogurt in a Crockpot


Finally...I am posting this long awaited recipe.  A few years ago, in an effort to de-junk, I threw out a yogurt maker; the only object I have ever regretted throwing out.  Over time I forgot about it, until a few months ago when a friend told me of her weird fetish to buy a yogurt maker which of course rekindled my yogurt making desires.  I got on-line and looked up various models, prices, and methods.  Around midnight my Other Half asked if people ever make it in a crockpot.  Genius!  Sure enough, I found a few recipes.  After reading through many of them and hundreds of comments I decided to come up with my own version. 

Making yogurt in your crock-pot should be pretty simple.  I am including extra information for those who like to be thorough.

Helpful Hints:
1. You may want to discover what your crockpots temperatures read.  To do this, fill your crockpot with water and move the dial to the lowest setting.  Take the temperature using a thermometer every 30-60 minutes for 2-4 hours and record each reading.  Repeat for all settings (warm, low, high...). 
2. When making yogurt you will need to bring the temperature of the milk to 120 degrees F.  After you mix in the starter the yogurt will then need to stay as close to 115 degrees F as possible for the remaining 8 hours.
3. You can change the recipe.  Keep in mind that as you alter the recipe you may also change the consistency of the yogurt.
4. DO NOT EVER STIR THE YOGURT unless I have so indicated.
RECIPE
8 cups (1/2 gallon) of whole  or 2% milk (1% or Skim may also work...I have not tried them yet)
1/2 cup powdered milk (This helps thicken the yogurt.  I add additional ingredients to mask the flavor.)
1/2 cup french vanilla powdered coffee creamer (Optional- this adds creaminess, sugar, and may help thicken it?)
2 tablespoons honey
*Optional flavor ideas- 2 teaspoons lemon extract (really good), 2 teaspoons vanilla extract...

1/2 cup plain yogurt, room temperature (this is the starter)

Set your half cup of plain yogurt on the counter so that it will reach room temperature.  Using a blender puree all ingredients except the plain yogurt (You only need to put 2-3 cups of milk in the blender.  The rest can be stirred in.).  Pour into the crockpot (Use a 4-6 quart crockpot) and set on low for 1 hour and 20 minutes. 

In a small bowl; gradually stir a 1/2 cup of the crockpot mixture with the plain yogurt and add back into the crockpot mixture.  Turn the crockpot off for 3 1/2 hours.

Turn the crockpot to warm for 45 minutes(If you do not have a warm setting use your low setting and try cutting the cooking time in half).  Turn off for 45 minutes.  Repeat this step two more times.  Allow the crockpot to sit (turned off) for 1-2 hours.  Place in the fridge overnight or until chilled. 


More Helpful Hints:
1. After your yogurt has chilled you will want to transfer it to a smaller container. 
2. My yogurt comes out super thick and very creamy.  If you have a lot of whey (liquid) or your yogurt is grainy you may be overcooking; consider reducing the cooking time.
3. You can experiment with different percentages of milk but your yogurt may come out less thick.
4. If your yogurt is runny do not throw it away.  You can use it in smoothies and try again!
5. Reserve a 1/2 a cup to use as the starter of your next batch...even if it is runny. 
6. My yogurt is not overly sweet as I prefer it a little tart.  You can add many forms of additional sugar like granola, fruit, berries, and jam!
7. If you would like help figuring out how to make yogurt in your crockpot and are having trouble please email me.  I would be happy to try and help you figure it out.

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