I’m not sure how I would function without my trusty Crock Pot! I use it for so many things and it has saved my sanity many times when I wouldn’t have been able to pull off dinner for the family and/or guests without it. It’s been hauled to pot lucks and chili cook-offs and keeps on cooking!
This time, I’m using my crock pot to make yogurt! I’ve been making yogurt for many years, mainly to save money. I can buy a gallon of milk for $3-$4 dollars and get 4 quarts of yogurt out of it which would cost $2-$3 dollars each depending on the brand. If you switch this up and use organic milk, the cost of the milk is a little more, but so is the savings. And, if you are on a farm and have access to fresh milk – what a treat to make fresh yogurt from milk produced by your animals!
I used to make yogurt on the stove-top and transfer the jars to a cooler with warm water to set up. This worked okay and is a little faster, but it’s messier and I had trouble making sure the milk didn’t burn in the pot. If you’ve ever tried to clean/scrape burned milk out of a pan, you know what I’m talking about – not a fun job! The crock pot method takes a little longer, but you can do other things in between and you don’t have to worry so much about the milk burning, because it heats up slowly. I start mine in the afternoon on a weekend day that I’m home. By dinnertime or after, depending on when I start, the yogurt is done with the heating and cooling and is ready to “sleep” for the night to set up. So this is a good weekend project, but not ideal for a weekday if you’re at work all day.
You’ll need a few specific “tools” for this job: Crock Pot, Thermometer (that reaches 190 degrees F), and towels (whatever you have is fine – you could also use a blanket)
Ingredients: Gallon of Milk (we use skim or 1%, but any kind works), small container of plain yogurt (I use Dannon – make sure it has no other fillers/stuff in it that could alter the yogurt). Once you get used to making yogurt, you can use a starter that you saved from the previous batch. I use a fresh starter (new cup of Dannon) every 3-4 batches, just to keep it fresh.
To get started, pour your gallon of milk into a large size crock pot. Cover and put on high.
Bring the milk to 190 degrees. This will take a couple of hours, so be patient. If you have a crock pot with a thermometer hole that you can leave in it, perfect; if not, check it after an hour, then every half hour or so. Once it reaches 190, turn the crock pot off and let it cool to 130 degrees F. This will take another couple of hours.
Take out your starter container of Dannon and pour it into a measuring cup or bowl. You are going to add some of the milk to this, so make sure there is room. Pour 1 cup of the 130 degree milk into the bowl of starter yogurt. Mix this well.
Pour this mixture into the crock pot and stir gently, but mix well. Place the cover on the crock pot and wrap with towels.
I use 3 beach size towels. You really want it insulated well, so more towels are better. Leave this overnight to set up. Yogurt does not like to be jiggled or moved at this point, so find a nice spot where it won’t get in anyone’s way.
In the morning, place the crock pot in the fridge to cool. Once cool (I leave it all day) ladle the yogurt into containers. I like to store my yogurt in mason jars – I like them because they are glass as opposed to plastic, and they are quart sized so I can easily fill 4 and one jelly or half pint size jar to use as my starter for next time. For your starter jar, make sure you leave this closed and in the fridge until you are ready to use it in the next batch. You want to make sure it is as fresh and untouched as possible so no stray germs find their way into it and alter your yogurt.
If you are interested in turning your homemade yogurt into thick, creamy, Greek style yogurt, see my post, How to Make Greek Yogurt.