Making homemade yogurt is fun, very economical (i.e. cheap!), and you don’t need a yogurt-maker to do it. While there are several different ways to make yogurt without having to purchase a yogurt-maker, this article will focus on the method that I’m currently most excited about: making yogurt using your crock pot or slow cooker. If you don’t have a crock pot, you can accomplish the same thing with this recipe that uses mason jars and a beverage cooler (think 4th of July).
Before I get into the recipe, let me share a bit of the basics about homemade yogurt:
First of all, yogurt is a fermented food. Hooray! This means that it contains live probiotic bacteria that are great for your digestion and general health. There are two main types of yogurt cultures: mesophilic and thermophilic. Mesophilic, or “medium-loving,” turn milk into yogurt at room temperature (70-78°F) and don’t require you to preheat the milk. Thermophilic cultures are “heat-loving” which means that they prefer a warmer environment (110°F). This is a thermophilic recipe for culturing yogurt in a warm environment. The resulting yogurt is similar in taste and texture to plain store-bought yogurt.
To make this type of yogurt, live cultures are added to heated milk. The mixture is then kept at a nice and toasty temperature (110°F) for anywhere from 6 to 12 hours (see Considerations below) while the bacteria culture the milk, turning it into yogurt. Sound simple? It is.
If you are interested in learning more about different yogurt cultures and how to make them at home, Cultures for Health has some great informative articles. They also sell various yogurt starters – both mesophilic and thermophilic.
Once you’ve gotten through Steps 1 through 5 in the recipe below, you are free to go about your day and can expect to come home to yummy, freshly cultured yogurt! Many people get their yogurt started in the evening and allow it to culture overnight. However you choose to organize your yogurt-making time, have fun and make sure to have some granola and berries on hand!
- 1 quart of organic milk
- 1 tablespoon plain yogurt with live-active cultures
- Pour the milk into your crock pot and turn the heat on medium or high. You want to heat the milk very slowly until it reaches 180°F (30 mins to 1 hour).
- Turn off the slow cooker, unplug, and allow the milk to cool to 120°F (about 30 mins).
- While waiting for the milk to cool, measure out your plain yogurt starter and allow it to come to room temperature.
- Once milk is 120°F, add the yogurt and stir gently until it is fully incorporated.
- Cover with lid and then wrap the slow cooker with several towels.
- Set it where it will be undisturbed for 6 to 8 hours. Yogurt likes a quiet, still environment to ferment.
- Place the cultured yogurt into the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before eating to ensure that it's fully set.
- The more fat in the milk, the thicker and creamier the yogurt (that’s why I use whole milk). I don’t recommend skim milk.
- The longer you culture the yogurt, the less lactose will remain. If you are lactose-sensitive, culture your yogurt for at least 8 hours and up to 12.
- The longer you culture the yogurt, the tangier it will be. If you like mellow yogurt, end the fermentation process and refrigerate after 6 hours. If you like a hearty tang, start with 8 hours and adjust the recipe from there.
- Less is more when adding the live yogurt culture to your warm milk. Stick with 1 tablespoon–adding more will not yield a thicker yogurt, it’ll just crowd the bacteria.
Need a slow cooker? Check out these great options from Amazon.com: Slow Cookers from Amazon
I use a Proctor Silex 4-Quart Slow Cooker which is on sale right now for only $25!
Prefer the cooler method? All you need is some pint or quart-sized mason jars and an insulated cooler!
This recipe has been shared at Thank Your Body.