This is ridiculously exciting. And easy. And CHEAP.
I first discovered Stephanie O’Dea‘s Crockpot 365 about 18 months ago. She totally rocked my world and made me fall head over heels for my crockpot (CP). Side note: Did you know you can make an über-delicious cheesecake in that thing? Uh yeah. Amazing.
Though I had seen her recipe for making yogurt in the CP way back when, I never gave it a second thought. But Screech continues to have digestive issues that seem linked to milk. We have some baby acidophilus that we brought back from the US, but it’s a major pain to use because Screech broke the glass jar it was in and now we have to finely strain it every time we put it in his milk. Ugh.
Since the little guy seems to tolerate yogurt much better (and from what I have read, yogurt IS better for you than just plain ol’ milk), I decided to switch him to only yogurt for his major daily dose of calcium. He’s a wee one still, so he gets the full fat organic stuff. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how expensive that is.
To try and stop the constant flow of expensive yogurt containers from store to fridge to pie hole, I hunted down the recipe and gave it a go. Awesome! I cannot believe how much yogurt this makes for how little money.
–8 cups (half-gallon) of whole milk–pasteurized and homogenized is fine, but do NOT use ultra-pasteurized (that’s the stuff sold on the shelf in the box.. milk here is sold by the liter so I used 2 liters)
–1/2 cup store-bought natural, live/active culture plain yogurt (you need to have a starter. Once you have made your own, you can use that as a starter)
–thick bath towel
I used a 3.5 liter crockpot (Stephanie uses a 4 quart crockpot). Plug in your crockpot and turn to low. Add all of the milk. Cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours.
Unplug your crockpot. Leave the cover on, and let it sit for 3 hours (I have let it sit for 2 1/2 hrs as well).
When 3 hours have passed, scoop out 2 cups of the warmish milk and put it in a bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup of store-bought live/active culture yogurt. Then dump the bowl contents back into the crockpot. Stir to combine. (I just whisk mine straight in to the CP, but I have read elsewhere that this can bring the temperature down too low.)
Put the lid back on your crockpot. Keep it unplugged, and wrap a heavy bath towel all the way around the crock for insulation. Go to bed, or let it sit for 8 hours.
In the morning, the yogurt will have thickened—it’s not as thick as store-bought yogurt, but has the consistency of low-fat plain yogurt.
Flavor with honey, maple syrup, jam, fresh fruit, etc. Or, just enjoy it plain.
Chill in a plastic container(s) in the refrigerator. The fresh yogurt will last 7-10 days. Save 1/2 cup as a starter to make a new batch.
Note: You can also strain this through cheesecloth to make Greek-style yogurt. I don’t have any cheesecloth, so I haven’t done this. I need to though because my yogurt is quite thin and Screech makes a HUGE mess when eating it. I’m going to thin it out until it’s drinkable for him until I find myself some cheesecloth. Also, the taste of this to me is surprisingly very mild. I don’t mind sour, plain, yogurt. But, if you detest that, try this yogurt. And then think about all the cash you are saving. And then put it in a piggy bank for your next TRIP! Cha-ching!