Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Crock Pot Yogurt

Upon its creation, this blog was meant to be for my crafting, cooking, and pure novice photo-fun. Because  my knitting and sewing are my business, it didn't take long for this to turn into a business blog. As a business blog it became sparsely updated because I'm busy DOING not WRITING about what I was doing. Lately, however, I've been asked a lot about my cooking and baking, how I do what I do, penny-pinching while eating naturally and healthily, and more. What better way to share it with those asking than to get back to the roots of this blog so I can share links in the future for when the questions are asked again(as they always are)?
Today I jump back in with my crock pot yogurt. With three small kids we go through a lot of those quick-fix snacks and meals, and I think most parents can attest to the fact that those can be hard to come by when you're looking for healthy, preservative-free, and on a budget. Yogurt is one in our house that is a great source of protein that many things(fruits, nuts, cereal grains, a side of peanut butter toast) can be added to and turn it into a meal. This means we go through A LOT of yogurt. We buy everything as economically as possible, but even those big tubs of plain and vanilla yogurt can add up in a hurry. One day I was breezing through cooking blogs and saw the concept of yogurt made in the crock pot. 'Hey,' I thought, 'I have TWO crock pots. I need to try this!' I did some research, studied and compared multiple recipes, and asked around in my circle of healthy-eating, crunchified mamas for opinions. Most reviews were dubious, but I knew I just HAD to try this. Not only would it save us money, it would be so much healthier than even the most natural yogurts- No sugars, no flavorings, no preserved fruits or pre-made granolas on top. I put my type-a mind to work with researching recipes, the science behind how yogurt is made, reviewed the conversations I'd had on blogs and Facebooks, and chose my course. I would make yogurt in my crock pot, and darnit- I'd be successful!

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon organic milk
  • 1 container(1 cup +) plain organic yogurt(with all five live active cultures- This is essential!)
Equipment: 
  • 6-quart (or larger) crock pot
  • Good quality digital food thermometer
  • Sterilized ladle or measuring cup
  • Two thick bath towels
Put the cold milk in a crock pot and turn the crock pot on High. Cook for 3-4 hours(it will vary by crock pot), checking the temperature every hour by stirring with the thermometer until the temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit. This kills the bacteria in the milk itself.
Turn off the crock pot and allow it to cool to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Dip out 2 cups of the warm milk and add it to the organic yogurt. Stir gently until smooth, then pour it into the crock pot full of milk, stirring gently again until smooth. 
Cover and turn the crock pot back on for ten minutes, or as long as it takes for the mixture to come up to 109 degrees(No higher than 110 or you will kill the GOOD bacteria).
Unplug the crock pot and wrap in two heavy towels. Let sit at room temperature overnight (8-12 hours). 
The next morning, remove the now-cool pot from the heating implement and dip out 1 cup of the yogurt and put it in an air-tight sterilized container to use for your starter in the next batch of yogurt, because there WILL be another. Place the crock pot(minus heating implement) in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours, then tip the pot slowly over the sink just enough to pour out any standing liquid that forms on the sides and top of the chilled yogurt. This allows things to cool and firm-up. If you want a tighter yogurt, you can strain in a cheesecloth-lined colander for a thick Greek style texture. 

The scoop of next batch's starter
Before the chilling and excess liquid removal
Now it's ready to eat! Many reviews were iffy about texture, but ours turns out fine every time. Sure, it's missing the pudding-like, gelatinous texture of many store-bought yogurts because there are no preservatives added to achieve said texture, but even my sensory kid who struggles heavily with textures never skips a beat on this, and when a food is G-approved, you know it is a-okay!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this! Don't know when I'll actually get around to it, but I've been wanting to try this for a while. :)

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