A favorite breakfast and snack in our house is homemade yogurt. My daughter eats it plain without any sweetener. We put it in smoothies, top it with fruit or granola, and add it to muffins. I’ve been making it for several years now.
Why make yogurt? It’s cheaper and there are no added ingredients. Plain yogurt is one of those products you shouldn’t have to read the label on when you are shopping. Unfortunately though, you do. It’s so simple. The actual labor of making yogurt is pretty much nothing. Most of the time you are just ignoring it. Yogurt is something you should add to your “make from scratch” list.
I use my 6 quart slow cooker from start to finish to make my easy homemade yogurt. A friend uses the same method but does it on the stove in a heavy pot. The slow cooker would give a little better insulation during the setting period. You can also place it in a warmer location – such as a (turned off) oven when the light turned on.
Options for Thicker Yogurt:
Use Whole Milk – I always use whole milk and my yogurt thickens enough for our tastes. It does turn out thicker in the summer when the house stays warmer though. If the yogurt isn’t thick enough for you or you choose to use a lower fat milk, you can do one of the following options.
Strain – Strain it to your desired consistency using a tea towel or cheese cloth. Obviously you’ll end up with not as much yogurt using this method but you can still use the liquid you strained off for baking, smoothies etc.
Gelatin – Add 1-2 teaspoons of gelatin (details on how to do that when we get to the recipe) to have your yogurt set up really well.
Slow Cooker Method: Pour 8 cups of milk into your slow cooker, cover, and turn to low.
Stove Top Method: Pour 8 cups of milk into a heavy pan and turn stove to low.
With Thermometer: Heat to 180-185 degrees and turn off heat.
Without Thermometer: A thermometer takes the guessing out of it but you can also just go by looks. Turn the slow cooker or stove off shortly before you think it’s going to boil. (It might be just starting to slightly bubble around the very edges of the pan.)
Slow Cooker: This will take 2 – 2 1/2 hours covered depending on the temperature of your house.
Stove Top: If you do it on the stove, stir it occasionally during the process to keep it from scorching on the bottom.
With Thermometer: Let the milk cool down to 115 degrees. I like to make sure mine isn’t any cooler than that because I’ve found it won’t set up as well for me. You don’t want it to be too hot though otherwise it will kill the cultures in the yogurt when you add it.
Without Thermometer: Go by touch! You should be able to easily stick your finger in without burning it. The milk should feel a little hotter than just warm though.
Scoop out 1-2 cups of the warm milk and stir 1/2 cup of plain yogurt (with active cultures) into it. Pour back into the slow cooker or pan and stir together.
If you want to add gelatin for a thicker yogurt, now is the time to do it! Simply sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons of gelatin over the top of the milk and gentle whisk it in. Then proceed to step 5.
Replace lid on the cover slow cooker or crockpot with several heavy towels to keep it insulated. I cover my slow cooker with 3 big towels and leave it on the counter over night. If you are using a pan, you might want to cover it with towels and place in the oven with the light on or in a cooler to help keep it insulated better.
Let your milk/yogurt sit insulated for 8-12 hours. I’ve found closer to 10 hours is better for the yogurt to turn out thicker.
After the 8-12 hours are up, remove the towels and transfer the pot/slow cooker insert to the refrigerator and let cool completely. (Again, you can eat it sooner but I’ve just found it sets up thicker if I let it cool completely first.)
This is how well my whole milk yogurt (made with only milk and yogurt) thickens up:
Transfer yogurt into your food storage containers and keep in the refrigerator.
Top with fruit, granola, jam or even eat plain. If you want, you can sweeten to taste using a drizzle of maple syrup, honey or other sweetener of your choice.
Do you make yogurt? What’s your favorite method?
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