Saturday, April 9, 2011

Homemade Yogurt!

A woman with whom I work makes her own yogurt all the time.  I just now got around to trying out how it would work to make my own yogurt.

As many families with young children do, we go through a TON of yogurt.  Since I'm concerned about the impact of pesticides in our food, I try to buy organic yogurt as often as I can.  Of course, like many organic foods, organic yogurt is substantially more expensive.  I also happen to love the even MORE expensive than that Greek yogurt, and have struggled to find an affordable, organic, version.  So I made that too.

I'm pretty happy with how the yogurt turned out.  It doesn't have the exact same taste as store bought yogurt, but it's still good.  My 3 year old tried it with homemade granola, and said it was really good.

I followed The Crockpot Lady, Stephanie O'Dea's, directions exactly, taking the advice in the comments to add 2T dry milk when I mixed in the yogurt starter.  I used organic skim milk and organic non fat yogurt.

To turn the finished product into Greek style yogurt, I put a strainer over a bowl, and put a dishtowel in the strainer.  I put the yogurt I'd made into the dishtowel (you can also use cheesecloth if you're icked out by using a dishtowel), and let the whey strain out, about 3 hours (though I've read it's supposed to sit 8-12 hours, but I had good results in 3).

Hubby said he wasn't much interested in trying the homemade yogurt (even though he was VERY interested in the fact that I was MAKING yogurt), because he "like[s] the fruit goo on the bottom, which hides the taste of the yogurt."  I told him that I like to throw in fruit, but he insisted he wants the goo.  I told him I could puree fruit for him, like I did for the baby, and he said maybe.  I seriously can't make this guy up.

Next up is making a whole milk yogurt for the under 2 set!

The Directions.

This takes a while. Make your yogurt on a weekend day when you are home to monitor.

I used a 4 quart crockpot. This is so exciting. My fingers are shaking!

Plug in your crockpot and turn to low. Add an entire half gallon of 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.

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.

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.

Blend in batches with your favorite fruit. I did mango, strawberry, and blueberry. When you blend in the fruit, bubbles will form and might bother you. They aren't a big deal, and will settle eventually.

Chill in a plastic container(s) in the refrigerator. Your fresh yogurt will last 7-10 days. Save 1/2 cup as a starter to make a new batch.  (**From what I've read, you can only use the starter so many times before the live active cultures will die)

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