Why make homemade yogurt when we can buy it so readily and easily in such a wide variety of flavours? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Well for starters it’s a fermented food, meaning that it is super awesome for your digestive system because it contains live probiotic bacteria (you know it’s all the rage) that will help balance the bacteria in your digestive system which in turn will improve your digestion, boost your immunity and aid in your bowel function. We should all be eating more fermented foods for our general health and this isn’t one that tastes weird or will freak you out because I mean most of us are eating this every day but you get to control how long your ferment is shorter for a milder taste and a longer time for a more tart flavour.
Ok so maybe you’re still not convinced…maybe you’re still wondering why on Earth would anyone want to do this…I mean we’re busy aren’t we? Ain’t nobody got time for that. And this isn’t Little House on the Prairie…but I do have a few more compelling arguments. How about less packaging? I mean that’s a good thing right? Doing something good for your body and good for the planet at the same time. Win-win. I don’t know about you but I can only save and use so many of those yogurt containers before I feel like I should sell my house and make shelter out of them. Dare I even mention the little individual single serve ones that you can’t find any use for. Seriously, every little bit we can do to get out of “the plastic age” is a step in the right direction.
How about the taste? Is it weird? Does it taste as good? My answer is yes…this stuff is great tasting – nothing beats the taste of freshly cultured yogurt! I usually don’t like plain yogurt but this stuff is good. It’s healthier for you because you are controlling the ingredients – namely the sugar but also all the other weird preservatives.
Lastly, here’s a reason everyone can like – cost savings! I can make two containers of organic yogurt for the price you’ll pay for one. Buy one get one free…come on…who doesn’t like that?
So, if I’ve peaked your curiosity and you think you might want to give it a try…let’s get started.
Here’s What You’ll Need
- 2 L of Milk – Any type (we use 3.25% organic because the more fat in the milk is the creamier it will be)
- 2 tbsp Starter Yogurt – The bacteria for the yogurt has to come from somewhere. You can use sour cream in a pinch but another yogurt that has active live bacterial cultures is best.
- 2 tbsp milk powder (optional)
- Crock Pot
- Cooking Thermometer
- A Whisk
- A Colander and cheese cloth or dish towel (if you plan on straining it)
- Large bath towel or blanket
Lets get started
Pour the milk into the crock pot and put the lid on it. Heat the milk on low until the milk is between 180F – 190F. You must heat the milk to at least 180F and if you plan on saving some of this yogurt to make your next batch just go ahead and let it go right to 190F.
Heating the milk to 180 will keep it free from all types of bacteria that you don’t want. You only want the good bacteria growing in the milk from the live cultures that you will add via your starter yogurt so don’t heat it to less than the 180F.
Once you have reached 180 (usually about 2 – 3 hours) turn the heat off on the crock pot. Allow the milk to cool naturally and without any tampering to a temperature of 110°F. It takes about 3 ½ hours to cool to that temperature (note that I have taken the crockpot dish out of the heating vessel and submerged it in a sink of cold water to speed up the process but it is best to leave it undisturbed for best results). If you want a successful yogurt then you must ensure to catch the milk at 110°F. This is the ideal temperature for adding your starter yogurt. Any higher and you could kill the good bacteria but any lower and the bacteria will not multiply – I swear that is the most finicky part of this process.
Once your yogurt has cooled, carefully remove the layer of “skin” that has formed on the top of the milk otherwise you will have nasty bits in your finished yogurt. Now remove roughly 1 cup of the warm milk into a separate cup or small bowl. If you are using milk powder add it to the warm milk now and whisk (I’ve made this yogurt with and without it but prefer it with it as it adds a bit of thickness to it as well as some added nutritional value). Add your 2 tablespoons of starter yogurt to the cup of milk and stir gently but thoroughly with a fork to thoroughly incorporate it. **Do not use more than 2 tbsp of starter yogurt because you will crowd the bacteria. It needs room to multiply naturally. Gently move the whisk side to side and not in a circular motion because you don’t want to upset the colony of bacteria too much.
Next return the lid and remove the crock from the base and wrap it in a thick bath towel or blanket and place in the oven for 10 – 12 hours. I like to turn the heat on at about 200F about 1/2 hr before I plan to put the crock in it for about 15 minutes just to get it warm in there. Do not put the wrapped crock in if it is too hot in the oven and make sure the temperature is off when you are ready to put it in.
After 10-12 hours (I prefer 12) go ahead and remove the crock and take the lid off and give it a stir. You may be surprised at the consistency of the yogurt because it is much thinner and smoother than that of store bought. I personally like the consistency and can comfortably eat it at this stage. However if you want a thicker yogurt (particularly greek yogurt) you will need to strain this through cheese cloth and a colander over a large pot for a few hours or until it reaches your desired consistency. I don’t always do this and if you don’t strain it you will end up with more than 2 containers. If you decide not to strain it you can now divide it amongst various containers and then let it ferment on the counter for around 4 hours at room temperature. The longer it sits the tangier it will be. If you do strain it you can set up a bowl and your cheese cloth. I keep a small colander over my bowl, layer it with cheese cloth and pour in my yogurt. I then bundle it at the top and tie it with an elastic an hang it from my cupboard door knob to drip over the bowl. You can just sit it in the cheesecloth covered colander and it will drip out just the same. I usually strain mine for about 2 hours and then divide into containers and let ferment on the counter for another 4 hours. Don’t forget to save the whey that drips out. You can use this in broths, smoothies, soups, etc. So healthy.
That’s it. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Be sure to remove 2 tbsp and freeze in a small container for your next batch. Serve plain or with honey or your desired sweetener, fruit, nuts, granola, etc.
I know it likely seems like a lot of steps and maybe even seems intimidating but it is dead easy. I like to start mine around 5 pm on a Friday or Saturday night when I’m going to have the time to keep an eye on the temperature.
I have not used almond or coconut milk for this yet but understand it can be done in much the same way.
Make this yogurt and bask in feeling like a pioneer woman.