Saturday, January 24, 2015

Homemade Yogurt: IT WORKED!

Yesterday, I made yogurt at home.  It was easy peasy!  It doesn't take much.
Crock Pot? Check!
Thermometer? Check!
Yogurt cultures? Check!
Milk. Check?
Thick towel?  Check!
Yep, that's all you need to make yogurt at home. Who knew it would be so easy!

I bought a container of Fage yogurt (you just have to make sure you buy some yogurt which contains live active cultures).

There are loads of tutorials and blog posts on the Internet about how to make yogurt at home in your crock pot. I probably read about 8 different articles, and many of them referenced Stephanie O'Dea's article which you can find HERE.  She's a gal who resolved to use her crock pot every single day for one year, she kept track on her blog, and then she wrote a book or two about her experiences. 
I pretty much took guidance from the various articles I read and put it all together and my yogurt turned out great. It worked. The yogurt cultures did their magic and I made yogurt at home!
I kept notes so I know how to do it again. This is more of a timeline than a recipe.  Slow cookers (crock pots) vary... some run hotter and some run cooler... so using a thermometer is a good idea so you can ensure you are hitting the temperatures you are looking for. The magic temperatures are 185 degrees and 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
7:00 am  Put 8 cups milk in crock pot. Cover with lid. Set on LOW. In this step, you are just gently warming the milk to 185 degrees Fahrenheit.
9:30 am  Checked temperature of milk. Reading was 185 degrees Fahrenheit (This is the temperature I needed).  Since my milk was up to temperature, I tipped the crock pot lid so steam could escape. Turn off the crock pot and allow it to cool slowly until the milk reaches a temperature of 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
11:30 am  Milk had cooled to 110 degrees.  Place 1/2 cup of store bought yogurt into a medium sized bowl.  Remove 1 cup of the warmed milk and add it to the yogurt; stir with a whisk to combine.  Add the yogurt/milk slurry back into the warmed milk in the crock pot.  Stir in very gently with the whisk.  Put the lid back on and cover the crock pot with a thick/heavy towel or blanket (you want to block light from entering into the crock pot; the cultures like to work in the dark).  Allow the crock pot to sit, covered, undisturbed. No peeking!
7:00 pm  Check the yogurt, pat yourself on the back, grin from ear to ear because you are a Mad Kitchen Scientist and you made yogurt yourself!  Apparently the longer you let the yogurt sit, the more tart it will become.
Line a strainer or colander with cheese cloth (I also used a loosely woven clean tea towel). Place the strainer/colander in a large bowl.  Stir the yogurt vigorously (I read that this stops the cultures from working, which apparently is something you need/want to do a this point). Spoon or pour the yogurt into lined strainer/colander and allow to drain for about an hour in the refrigerator.  Straining is optional; I like thicker "Greek Style" yogurt so I strained my yogurt.  I had about 2 cups of liquid drain from my yogurt in about an hour's time.  Transfer yogurt to storage containers. Consume as desired.
With my homemade yogurt, I plan to make brownies and yogurt parfaits with granola and berries.  Yum!

Success!  It worked.

Straining your yogurt is optional. If you drain it too much, you end up with yogurt cheese. I just drained my yogurt for about an hour and I was amazed how much liquid drained off. I read that you can use the liquids that drain off for smoothies and other drinks. I put the drained liquid in the refrigerator; I need to do some research to figure out what to do with that. 

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