Ok so I’m finally going to write about this amazing tool I’ve used to save money on yogurt all year long. The tool is one you probably already use on a weekly basis. It’s old school, and that’s how I roll.
The tool? My slow cooker (AKA: Crock-Pot).
Yes!! You heard me… Not some fancy-pants yogurt maker you have to get at a specialty shop or online. Now before you get all in a tizzy, thinking it’s going to take like five hundred steps to make it, let me tell you, it’s really as easy as one, two, three!
Here’s what you will need:
- Slow cooker (Crock-Pot)
- Half gallon of milk (any kind except ultra-pasteurized, and I won’t pretend I know why)
- Half a cup of nonfat, plain greek yogurt (for the cultures)
- 2 large beach or heavy bath towels
- Strainer (fine mesh, large)
- Heavy dense paper towels, flour-sack cloth, or cheesecloth
- Large bowl (like the big huge Tupperware ones your mom used)
Plug in your Crock-Pot and pour in the half gallon of milk. Cover, set to low, and leave for 2.5 hours. Make sure you set a timer, as it is important that you stick to the timeline in the first two steps.
After the 2.5 hours is up, unplug the Crock-Pot and do NOTHING else (do not even lift the lid), and let it rest for 3 hours.
After 3 hours is up, take 2 cups of the warm milk and whisk it in with the ½ cup of yogurt.
Then add that back to the crock pot and mix with the rest of the warm milk (this is called tempering).
Place cover back on the Crock-Pot, cover with two thick towels, and leave overnight or for a minimum of 8 hours (I leave mine more like 12 hours).
Voila! You now have yogurt! But wait, it’s not Greek yogurt yet. The yogurt you are staring at is yummy and smooth, and should be fairly thick, but you still need to strain it to have Greek yogurt as well as some lovely whey left over (save this, you can use it).
Place your colander over a LARGE Bowl, place your cloth of choice over the colander, and pour in your yogurt. It will start straining the whey almost immediately. Place it in the refrigerator and wait at least 4 hours (again I leave mine all day or even overnight).
You are done straining when it reaches your particularly desired consistency. I like mine thick enough to pull away easily from the paper towel.
If you strain too much, simply add some of the whey back in to thin it out.
Remember to keep the whey, as it’s full of lovely protein and health for you to add to smoothies or other cooking items to boost nutrient intake. I simply scoop my yogurt out and put into an air-tight container, and it stays fresh for a couple of weeks (but rarely lasts that long at my house).
I seal the whey in a mason jar and keep it refrigerated. It lasts for what seems like forever!
I cannot take credit for this recipe; I modified it from several other recipes. Thank you, Pinterest! I simply took tips and tricks from what I read and figured out a fail-proof way that works for me. I like simple and easy.
A few tips: The milk shouldn’t heat beyond 180 degrees, because it can kill the cultures and enzymes in the milk. You will need to test the temperature of your Crock-Pot to see if it runs too hot on low. If your yogurt turns out slimy or runny, then something went wrong! But don’t throw it out — It makes great “Go-gurt” or “Yo-J” at that consistency. My kids love it. That has only happened to me twice, and both times I let my yogurt process too long in the first two steps, so I knew why it happened. But I just mixed that slimy yogurt in with some orange juice (or other juice), and it’s super yummy for breakfast! Shhh… don’t tell the kids it’s really healthy too!
So don’t be afraid of this recipe: try it! Use outdated milk (that’s what I do) as long as it smells normal and you would still drink it! Go for it. Dive in! You really do set it and forget it (well… use a timer!).
Here are other ways I use this yogurt recipe, once it’s finished:
- I use it in place of sour cream (because my son eats that by the spoonfuls)
- I mix in some of our favorite homemade jelly or jam and, voila! You have sweet lovely yogurt the kids like.
- I also use it in smoothies.
- I top my muffins, banana bread, or even put it on pancakes!
- I add fresh fruit and a little honey.
It has a simply amazing texture, and it is so easy to make. This recipe makes about 32 oz of yogurt and costs a fraction of what it would at the store, and there is a bonus: NO SUGAR!
Here’s to saving money, knowing your ingredients, and feeling very domesticated in the process! Enjoy!