A beginner’s story
A few weeks ago I read a post by a fellow blogger about homemade yogurt. It was so uncomplicated that I immediately thought “I can do that!” There were only a few tools needed – ones that I already have on hand – so I set to work.
This post is titled experimenting with homemade yogurt because that’s basically what I’ve been doing. And while the yogurt I’ve been producing tastes great, it still lacks that “commercial” quality and texture that I’m used to.
I’m eating it, but I’m still experimenting. You could say I’m striving for homemade yogurt greatness and in search of the perfect texture. We shall see…
To make your own slow cooker yogurt you will need:
- // A slow cooker with a tight fitting lid
- // Half a gallon of milk – your choice on the fat percentage (more on that below)
- // 6 ounces of unflavored yogurt with live cultures from the store
- // Put the milk in the crock pot for 2.5 hours at the lowest setting
- // Then unplug the pot and leave it for 3 hours
- // Remove 1 cup of milk and whisk in 6 ounces of unflavored yogurt with live cultures
- // Return your warm milk/yogurt mixture to the big pot, stirring well with a whisk
- // Wrap the pot in a blanket and leave it to sit overnight
- // In the morning, transfer your yogurt to individual serving cups and refrigerate for 24 hours
See, I said it was easy.
Here’s what can go wrong
1. You choose the wrong kind of milk. I have now made 4 batches of homemade yogurt. Number 4 is by far the best and it has to do with the milk. For my first 3 batches I used an organic whole milk found at the grocer. It was kind of pricey, but I wanted the best. The problem is that it’s ultra pasteurized, which is keeping my yogurt from being thick. For my 4th batch I used plain old “D” milk and made sure it said only pasteurized on the label. Success! I have thick yogurt this time.
2. You forget you are making yogurt and miss a crucial step. My first batch turned out pretty good because It was a new thing and I was hyper vigilant. Unfortunately, by the second batch I completely forgot I was making yogurt and didn’t add the yogurt culture when I needed to. The next morning I reheated the milk, let it cool again and proceeded with the steps. I got yogurt flavor, but not much texture.
3. Timing is important. Again, I woke up in the morning and “remembered” I was making yogurt. I’m usually not this forgetful, really! Batch number three was an even bigger fail and I ended up throwing the milk away all together. What an unfrugal thing to do…
4. You start the process at the wrong time. It takes a while to make yogurt and you need to make sure you start at the right time of day. Unless you are a night owl, beginning the process at 9pm will not be an option. Even 10am may not work if you have a doctor appointment in 2 hours. You need to make sure you are home at the right time, to attend to your yogurt.
My solution is yogurt timing
Now that I have the milk situation handled and the timing set, my 4th batch turned out fantastic. It was thicker, creamier, and not too tart. My solution is a timing chart and my cell phone. I set myself reminders. I know that seems basic, but it took me four tries to figure it out.
Now, with the wisdom of four whole batches behind me, I make sure I’m going to be around for the crucial times. I also set a timer on my cell phone so it reminds me to do the next step. Here’s how my little reminder works.
- // Put milk in the crock at 10am and set a timer for 2.5 hours, which is 12:30pm
- // Turn off the heat and set a timer for 3 hours, which is 3:30pm
- // Remove 1 cup of milk, whisk in yogurt start, cover and leave for 12 hours – which is 3:30am
I don’t know about you, but I’m not awake at 3:30am to transfer my yogurt into jars. Let’s try a different time…working back from when I want to remove it from the crock in the morning (8am)
- // 8am, scoop out finished yogurt from crock and place in jars to cool for at least 12 hours
- // 8pm, remove 1 cup of milk, whisk in yogurt start, cover with a blanket for 12 hours
- // Unplug the crock at 5 pm and let it sit for 3 hours
- // Put milk in the crock at 2:30pm and set a timer for 3 hours, which is 5pm
How to make yogurt thicker
As I’m experimenting, I’m striving for that yogurt consistency from the store. Of course, they use thickeners to achieve the texture. There are several options for doing this – I have yet to try most of them.
That’s for the next batch.
- // Hold the first heating a bit longer (from 2 hrs. 30 mins. to 2 hrs. 50 mins.)
- // Let the yogurt sit longer overnight. Instead of 12 hours – hold for 14.
- // Strain it. I tried that and boy, what a mess. I probably don’t have the right kind of strainer to make it work effectively.
- // Add non-fat dry milk powder. Now there’s an option – I have a bunch in food storage.
- // Add gelatin or pectin. Also in my pantry.
This is the uncomplicated yogurt recipe from Apartment Prepper that originally inspired me to try my own hand at homemade yogurt. Be sure and stop by and see what else Bernie has going on.
Do you make your own yogurt and have any techniques to teach? One thing I’d really like to know – can I add a flavor like honey during the cooking process or do I have to wait until I eat it?