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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Making Yogurt in a Crockpot!

I've heard a lot about people using crockpots for making yogurt, but have always used the stove method for some reason.  I don't know why, though. . .a crock pot is just a large version of a yogurt maker. Still, I guess I have just stuck with a familiar method.

But my current stove has an oven light that doesn't seem to throw enough heat to keep things moving right along in the thickening process.  I have resorted to chucking hot water bottles in with my dishes to ensure the temp stays warm enough through the night.

So this crockpot method seems to be a GREAT alternative, depending more on the residual heat of the crockpot rather than an outside heat source. . .and, if I am being honest, seems even easier than my usual method.  Here's what you'll need:

Equipment:

  • Large crockpot (enough for a gallon of liquid)
  • Long wooden spoon
  • Large Towel 
  • Candy Thermometer
  • Colander, Cheesecloth and bowl large enough to hold the colander (if you want to do an extra step for Greek Style yogurt)
  • Ladle
  • Small Bowl
  • Storage containers
Ingredients:

  • One gallon of milk (you can use whole, lowfat or skim, but if you use 2% or lower, make sure it isn't ultra-pasteurized.  Organic is obviously best so watch for markdowns.)
  • One cup yogurt, plain with active cultures

Method:

  • Make sure your equipment is spotlessly clean
  • Add milk to the crockpot
  • Cover and turn on High
  • When the temperature reaches 180 degrees, turn the crockpot off, remove lid and let cool
  • Stir with wooden spoon a few times during cooling
  • When the temperature of the milk comes back down to 110-115 degrees
  • Ladle two ladles full of milk into a small bowl and add one cup of yogurt
  • Mix yogurt and milk well then add back into the crockpot
  • Stir very well to ensure everything is incorporated
  • Replace lid and wrap the towel around the whole crockpot
  • Set somewhere warm for at least 8 hours or overnight (if you put it into the oven, it will help a bit to keep it all more insulated)
  • After at least 8 hours, check for thickness.  If you're happy with it, transfer to your containers and store in the fridge
  • If it's not quite thick enough, let it sit for another hour or two before

Or, if you prefer a Greek styled yogurt:

  • Chill your yogurt for at least four hours
  • It will thicken as it cools
  • Line a colander with four layers of cheesecloth that has been dampened slightly
  • Pour your cooled yogurt in (as much as the colander can easily hold)
  • Put the colander inside your big bowl (to catch the whey)
  • Put the whole thing back in the fridge for an hour
  • Save the whey that has been drained out for baking, if you wish, or discard
  • Spoon yogurt into tight-lidded containers and return to fridge
  • Enjoy!

UPDATE:

Forgot to let you know the price breakdown, so here it is:

Gallon of Milk:    $3.70
1 Cup Yogurt            .50  (this is actually free to me as I keep a cup back from the previous batch as my starter for the next one.

Total cost:             $4.20

Store bought yogurt cup portions are typically about 6 ounces, so you are getting just over 21 portions for only 20 cents per portion if you have to buy a yogurt starter, and 17.6 cents per portion if you use your own. 

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