Sunday, July 17, 2011

Homemade Crockpot Yogurt

Let me start by saying that the first part of this recipe was taken entirely from Nourishing Days. I have made it several times now and have loved it every time. I am posting my own version because I go on to thicken this yogurt and, of course, flavor it with stevia.

I know homemade yogurt sounds scary, much less a yogurt made in your crockpot. But it is delicious and even the skeptics I know who have tasted it are impressed.

  • 2 quarts milk (I use whole and hope to try raw)
  • 6 oz plain or vanilla yogurt with live active cultures (this is the starter and after you make it once, you can use your own)
  • stevia (to taste)
  • strawberries, blueberries, or vanilla (optional)
  1. Pour milk into your crockpot and turn on low (I have a 4qt crockpot)
  2. Heat for 2 1/2 hrs (I have messed this up two times by heating too long, with no ill effects)
  3. Turn off your crockpot and let it sit with the lid on for about 3 hrs (I fell asleep and let it sit for 4 1/2 hrs last night and my yogurt turned out fine)
  4. After the 3 hrs, remove 1-2 cups of warm milk and pour it into a bowl with the 6oz "starter" yogurt; mix well
  5. Thoroughly whisk the yogurt/milk mixture back into the crockpot
  6. Replace lid and cover entire crockpot with a large thick bath towel (or two)
  7. Let it sit undisturbed to culture 8-12 hours (I have read it will be tangier the longer it sits, I have only let it sit 8 hours both times and it was perfect)
  8. Strain to thicken (optional)*
  9. Sweeten with stevia and fruit or vanilla**
*Straining: I used a tip I found on making cheese to strain my yogurt. Wash and dry a spare pillowcase. Cut out a square that fits into your strainer. Place pillowcase into strainer and strainer into a bowl. I use a square tupperware bowl so the strainer does not fit snugly. You don't want the strainer to sit in the drippings. Place bowl and strainer into the fridge and allow to drain 2-4 hrs or until desired thickness is reached. (The liquid leftover is whey and it is full of protein. I add the whey to recipes in place of water like oatmeal or rice... but only a couple tablespoons because the whey is tangy.)
**Flavor Ideas
Fruit Compote:
--Make a berry compote (you can use the "topping" portion of one of my earlier recipes to do this and substitute any fruit you like). Mix into yogurt and add several more scoops of stevia to taste. (This is the version we made tonight and my boys were licking their bowls. It was super delicious!)
--Add 1 tsp of vanilla and several scoops of stevia to taste. I sometimes add a dash of brown sugar, but the stevia is fine on its own.
I love this yogurt. In fact, I can't get enough of it. I love that I can have an unprocessed whole milk yogurt that tastes good, but is not full of sugar.
I love both the fruit and the vanilla flavored varieties that I have tried. Actually, the more I make it, the more I like even the plain. So far we have made blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, and vanilla, and my boys devoured every kind.
Next time I also want to double the recipe. We eat it way too fast. I am not sure how that affects cook times though, so maybe I will buy a thermometer and use this tip from Shannon when asked about changing quantities:
"Let it heat to 160-180 degrees and then cool to about 110. I usually add about 2 tablespoons of starter to each quart of milk."
My one complaint is the thickness. While straining does work to make a thick yogurt, a lot of volume is lost this way. And although I happily use the whey in other recipes... I always end up feeding a good portion of it to the plants because we go through yogurt faster than whey. I read a tip about using gelatin to thicken on another blog, and I am going to try that next time.
Next Time: I am going to add 1 packet of gelatin to the warm milk left in the crockpot in step 4. I will let it sit a couple minutes while I combine the "starter" yogurt with the 1-2 cups warm milk. I actually want to try this right now....
Nutrition Facts: If you divide this up into 8 servings, each serving will be about 135 calories with 13g of carbs and 9g of protein (although that's without removing the whey). I am having a hard time calculating how much this makes and knowing if 8 servings is reasonable, however, because my boys gobble half of it up before I can really do any figuring. I will try and keep better track next time.

(Yogurt devoured before I could measure it)

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