I practically fell over the first time I read that you could make yogurt. I love yogurt. I’ve eaten it since I was a kid. But I thought yogurt was made in some mystical process that required lots of special equipment and knowledge.
(You may notice a theme around here – demystifying things. So many things we eat, drink and buy are just given to us without any explanation of HOW they’re made. Turns out, most of these things are really easy to recreate yourself!)
When I first read that you could actually make yogurt yourself, I didn’t believe it. Then, I was slightly grossed out – you’re supposed to leave milk slightly warm for 12 hours?!?! (This is my germ-phobic American side showing…) Wouldn’t that give you food poisoning?!?!
My first attempt at yogurt-making was while I was living in Paris. I bought a special yogurt making set on Craigslist. Turns out it was a faux-yogurt powder that you put in milk, and are supposed to ferment in little jars with individual lids. After 12 hours I had … milk in little pots.
I gave up on that idea until a couple of months ago when I read a recipe about making yogurt in a crock pot. I love my crock pot! And generally I have good luck making tasty things with my crock pot. (I suppose it’s pretty hard to screw up a crock pot recipe as you just add ingredients and let it do its thing!). I could do this! I still had a lingering fear I would get food poisioning, but I decided to give it a shot.
It’s very simple. You can even make this yogurt without a crock pot, as long as you have a warm place for it to ferment. I think the key is the ratio of milk to yogurt (for 1 liter of milk, I use 1/4 c of yogurt, scale accordingly)
I like to serve for breakfast with granola, or as a snack with honey or fruit coulis (basically, cooked down sweetened fruit. This is how I use up extra fruit that is about to go off).
How to make yogurt in a slow cooker
1) Pour 1 liter of milk into crock pot, cover, turn on low, let cook for 2.5 hours. (We’re trying to get the milk to 180F. Alternatively, and I do this to save time, just heat on the stove to 180F). I prefer whole milk, makes delicious creamy yogurt, but I’ve also had good luck with semi-skimmed (2% milk in the USA).
2) Turn off crockpot. Let sit for 3 hours. (We’re trying to cool the milk to 110F. If you have a thermometer, you can just watch it, but you don’t have to be super precise)
3) Whisk in 1/4 c. yogurt (this provides all the happy bacteria!)
4) Wrap in a big towel (or set in a warm place) and let sit for 8-12 hours.
5) Pour yogurt into containers and refrigerate 8 hours before eating.
How long does it take to make yogurt in a slow cooker?
This sounds like a lot of time – and it is a long process – but the vast majority of it is hands-off. You just need to remember to go back and check the yogurt after a certain number of hours. I’ve even “forgotten” about the yogurt, and let it ferment for 15 hours, and it was still fine.
I’m now on a weekly-yogurt making schedule. If I make it on Saturday morning (using 1/4c of yogurt from the previous week), I can put the finished yogurt in the fridge on Saturday night, and I have fresh yogurt for the week starting Sunday morning!
Do I have to buy yogurt first?
Ok, yes, you do have to start off by buying yogurt – but if you make it regularly, you can use a bit from the old batch as the starter for the new. I’ve had mine going for a couple of months, and it’s still working really well. I used plain, unsweetened greek yogurt for my first batch.
Have you ever made yogurt? Any tips & tricks to share?