1) In a pot, bring your milk to at least 185 degrees, on a very low fire.
The minimum temperature is all that’s required. If you walk away and Ooops! It’s boiling! No biggie. Just don’t let it boil over. And most importantly, DON’T. CRANK. UP. THE. HEAT. Wait – say what? You just told me to make it hot, you crazy woman??? Yes, but slowly. I learned the hard way that if you get impatient with your milk, and it’s been 20 minutes already and the stuff hasn't boiled, so you crank the heat up to high, you get SCORCHED MILK. It is nasty. Your yogurt comes out tasting like the pot, and there goes all your effort. Don’t rush this part.
The Pot Test:
You want an easy rule-of-thumb for if you boiled your milk properly? Check the pot. When you’ve poured the milk off, you will have “stuff” stuck to the bottom, burnt milk sugars and all that. Doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve scorched your milk, though. I use a non-stick pot, but this rule still applies –
IF: you can take a piece of silverware and gently scrape the gunk off the bottom of your pot, and proceed to wipe the rest out, you’re peachy-keen-jelly-bean! And the gunk should barely be brown, if at all.
IF: you are having a very difficult time getting the burned stuff off of your pot, and it’s blackened, congrats – you just scorched it, dahling. Better luck next time...
2) Transfer hot milk to Crock Pot and allow to cool to at least 110 degrees.
It needs to cool down so that you don’t kill your yogurt cultures!
3) Add yogurt by whisking it into a small amount of the milk first, completely dissolving lumps, then add to entire Crock Pot.
4) Cover your yogurt and let it do its thing. I leave the Crock Pot on WARM for the entire process. Go over 120 degrees and your yogurt is a gonna DIE. For your first time, you may want to check the temperature periodically to see how your Crock Pot behaves. Ours is a 7 quart and it runs very hot.
* * * CUE THE JEOPARDY MUSIC HERE!!! * * *
So let’s check your yogurt! You’ve probably left it on overnight, and now it’s morning. What’s that yellowish-clear stuff on top??? Eeeeeewwww! It’s just whey, no big deal. Pour off all that yogurt bi-product and life is happy.
5) Strain yogurt in colander lined with cheesecloth. You need 4 layers of cheesecloth. Most cheesecloth is folded in half and then packaged, meaning that you only need to cut 2 squares to line your colander. Make sense? You can just rest the cheesecloth in the colander if you don’t have one with handles. If you do, then put a rubber band around the edge, with the handles keeping it from rolling down the sides. This just makes things neater. Strain yogurt until about the consistency of cottage cheese, or drier if you want. The more you let it strain, the thicker it will be. Once you’re done, discard cheesecloth.
6) Puree yogurt, if desired. Totally optional. Recommended if you mixed fats. I like how it makes the texture that smooth, creamy, store-bought feel that we all enjoy, but some days I’m lazy and cottage-yogurt it is ;-)
Yay for you! You just made yogurt! Once it’s chilled, try it! See how it’s not sour??? And it doesn’t even have sugar in it! You can add some sugar if you want, or coco, or berries, or nuts, or WHATEVER!!! OMGosh, it’s so delicious and once you’ve gotten used to it, you’ll never go back to that sweet and sour store bought junk. [Which has to be sweetened because the yogurt goes sour from being packaged and stored forever. Old yogurt equals sour yogurt. Fresh yogurt equals smooth yogurt!] And if you store it in the fridge for a couple of days, some whey may continue to separate out, but it should be minimal. Happy yogurt-making and money saving!!!
Here is even more information about yogurt making:
The fact is that you do not need a yogurt maker – that is a contraption that doesn't make but 1 measly quart of soupy, American yogurt, and is just something else on which to spend money. You don’t have to use yogurt starter – you can just use store-bought yogurt, provided that it has live and active cultures listed in the ingredients. I prefer non-fat plain, but you can use sweetened yogurt, flavored yogurt, etc. It’s all in what you like. Infuse your yogurt with whatever you want.
Yogurt starter is usually powdered cultures, and you have to go to a health food store to find this. If you must have a yogurt maker that makes yogurt in just 4 hours, this is the way to go because the cultures are concentrated. If you’re going for my method, I advise against this. I culture my yogurt in a crock pot for at least 12-18 hours, preferably 24 (I’ll get to why). If you use yogurt starter and culture the milk for that extended period of time, you get sour cream. It’s not yummy. All your dreams of creamy, non-tangy yogurt fly away faster than flying monkeys.
Well, my pretties, to avoid that atrocity, use store-bought yogurt. It’s cheaper anyway. I use “The Greek Gods” brand of yogurt – it’s natural and a great price, available at both Wal-Mart & H.E.B. Each variety is named after a different god, and I prefer Poseidon – a.k.a. the non-fat variety. Kind of watery, hence the name, but all you need is cultures, not extra calories and fat really. And for your next “batch” you can culture your milk with the rest of your store bought yogurt or the yogurt that you made yourself. Your yogurt making can self-sustain itself for about 6-8 generations, if you really wanted it to. You do have to refresh your cultures after a few generations. By the time I get around to making another batch, the original one has already been all gobbled up, so I always wind up working from Gen 1 every time.
What kind of milk should you use? If you like gold-plated yogurt, then use organic. Knock yourself out. I don’t have the touch of Midas, so pasteurized it is for me. I prefer 1% because that little fat makes for a nice texture without being exorbitantly caloric. You could also mix skim with 1% if you so desire, but I would recommend putting the end result in a food processor because the fats separate. I like to puree it anyway, cuz it makes it pretty, but that’s just me ;-)
Also, make sure that you have some kind of food thermometer. I’m told that a liquid thermometer is more accurate for this project than a meat thermometer, but not required. Basically you just need a general idea of the temperature – not down to the degree, but a little more precise than what you can feel from your finger.
So why culture for such a long period of time? You can look up the specifics and fact check me, but essentially the yogurt feeds off of the milk sugar – kind of a no-brainer, right? Well the longer you culture the milk, the more milk sugars are broken down and the more whey is produced. End result? Longer culture time equals smooth tasting yogurt that strains easily, and is condensed protein yumminess! Yogurt that has had a long culture time can reduce sugar content by as much as HALF!
Oh! And Greek yogurt is a ton thicker than American yogurt because it’s the exact same result, just that one has been strained of extra whey and one has not. This is why you need the cheese cloth (Wal-Mart has it in the sewing section, go figure. And H.E.B. has it somewhere if you wish upon a star…)
View line-by-line Nutrition Insights™: Discover which ingredients contribute the calories/sodium/etc.
|Serving Size: 1 Serving (463g)|
|Recipe Makes: 8 Servings|
|Calories from Fat: 2 (20%)|
|Amt Per Serving||% DV|
|Total Fat 0.2g||0 %|
|Saturated Fat 0.2g||1 %|
|Monounsaturated Fat 0.1g|
|Polyunsanturated Fat 0g|
|Cholesterol 0.9mg||0 %|
|Sodium 10.7mg||0 %|
|Potassium 35.8mg||1 %|
|Total Carbohydrate 1.1g||0 %|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||0 %|
|Sugars, other 1.1g|
|Protein 0.8g||1 %|
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Calories per serving: 10
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