Food, Recipes and Kitchen tips

Yogurt: Make it at home – Greek or Regular!

I have been making my own yogurt for several months now and wanted to share the method with you incase it is something that you would enjoy or more-so benefit from…  We benefit from it because it saves us money at the grocery store and is healthier than a lot of yogurt out there.  My husband and son love plain yogurt, but not runny, thin, plain yogurt – thick, rich and hearty yogurt is where it is at.  Our favorite brand (Fage) costs about $4.30 (unless I can find it on sale) per 17.5 ounces. My husband would eat one of those a day alone if we had it in the fridge all the time and that adds up rather quickly. For a rough price comparison, I get about 6 cups of Greek yogurt out of one gallon of milk (not much, but after straining it to the thickness we like, that is what we have left) At the store, this would cost me about 13.00, unless I find a sale. But when you compare that price to a gallon of milk (even organic) there is a large savings.

At first I thought I had to buy a yogurt maker and figured that would be expensive and not help in the “saving money” department so I looked into making it in my crock-pot which brings us to my current yogurt-making-method!

How to make yogurt in your crock-pot (because this is a much more common household small appliance than a yogurt maker)

What you will need:

  • Crockpot (best if it can hold at least one gallon of milk)
  • 1 gallon of milk (our favorite is whole milk)
  • 1 cup/8oz of starter yogurt  (this can really be any kind of plan yogurt that you like). After you make yogurt the first time, you can save 1 cup of the yogurt that you make to use each time.
  • a food thermometer

1. Add the milk to your crock-pot, cover and turn the heat setting to “low” and allow your milk to warm up to 185 degrees F.

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This may take several hours and vary some depending on your particular crock-pot so get busy doing something else or it will feel like all day! I like to start the process first thing in the morning, otherwise I will end up having to stay up late waiting for my temperatures to be right. It is a good idea to check often until you know about how long it will take to reach the correct temperature. You don’t want your milk to get too hot… I have done this a few times sadly and ruined it. It takes my gallon of milk about 5 hours to reach 185 degrees.

{**UPDATE – You can also heat up your milk most of the way using the microwave or a pot on the stove… this really will speed up your process, it just means more hands on time for you – whatever fits your particular schedule for the day. I have used my microwave a few times to speed it up knowing I would be gone later in the evening and not be able to watch it as close. I got it to around 130 degrees and then finished it off in the crock-pot until it reached 185 degrees.}

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It is really close… this is when I try not to talk away too long in hopes not to forget about it!

2. Once your yogurt reaches 185 degrees F, turn your crock-pot off and wait again until it reaches a temperature of 110 degrees F. This takes a while, but not as long as it took to get hot. I usually take the lid off to speed up the process and stir it occasionally. Sometimes I will also remove the pot from the heating base too.  There will be a layer of scalded milk on top as well that I just scrape off as it starts to cool. This is normal/ok I have found.

3. Once your milk is 110 degrees F, remove a couple of cups of the milk and put it in a bowl so you can stir your 1 cup of starter yogurt into it… mix it well and then pour it back into the rest of the milk mixture. I keep my starter yogurt in a container in the fridge.

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4.  Now, cover the pot again and place it in a cooler or the oven with the light ON and let it sit overnight – ideally for me I will let it sit for 12 hours (overnight works great for me).  You should open the lid after the time (8-12 hours) has passed to see a much thicker product and it is very exciting! If what you see is nothing resembling yogurt – maybe something went wrong a long the way. It did not get to the correct temperatures, got too cold or something like that.  Your yogurt will not seem as thick as what you buy at the store but this is because they add “thickeners” and “stabilizers” to it… so you can relax knowing yours will have less additives. 🙂 I love to use my “cooler-bag” because it is easier to store close by in the kitchen – I don’t feel like hauling a cooler in and out from the garage all the time.

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5. Once the 8-12 hours has passed (this is best done overnight) you are DONE if you want regular yogurt (thin). It should look like this…

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… but if you want more Greek style yogurt,  you will need a strainer placed inside a larger bowl like this…

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…lined with a cheese cloth!

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then you can pour your yogurt in and place it in the refrigerator for several hours if not a few days.

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Here is what mine looked like after 24 hours…

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but since we like it really thick, I am putting it back in for one more day… tucked and ready to chill and strain longer…

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You can also use paper towels for the straining but a cheese cloth does so much better I have found.

6. While straining your yogurt, there will be a lot of liquid left over in the bottom of your large bowl – a yellow-ish, thick liquid that can be used in recipes calling buttermilk…

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I will let you know more about this as I continue to experiment with it and learn what it works well in. Ideally, using the “buttermilk” would be more of a savings because you can use the whole gallon of milk!    I like to stir the mixture around some every few hours or so to help it strain evenly as well.

I am sure there may be faster ways to make your own yogurt and much cheaper ways to buy your own, but for us this has worked great! There are times that I have bought yogurt in the midst of making it, but it has overall saved us a lot of money for what we would normally spend on yogurt.  I have not experimented quite yet with different flavors, but we have very frequently added berries to the yogurt. Greg also likes to stir in protein powder to it to give it more protein and calories when he is really hungry – which is all the time! I don’t have a picture of my final product from this round of yogurt because it was all consumed!

Let me know if you try this and how it turns out for you!

Happy Yogurt making and happy bellies!

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