I really enjoy making yogurt. I have only done it four or five times, and it works really well for me, just about every time! It is much cheaper than buying the same amount, although I do actually have to buy a four pack just to make it. Food is very expensive in Korea, so having something that I can make cheaper than I can buy, really helps, especially when I use it so much in my cooking. I have started making things like chicken salad, and potato salad with yogurt instead of mayo as a base. Anyway, here is how I make crock pot yogurt. You can use any crock pot/slow cooker you have, the size determines how much yogurt you can make at once. My pot will handle about a half gallon of milk.
The first step in making any dairy product, be it yogurt, or cheese, is to sterilize your instruments. I do this by pouring boiling water into the pot and letting it sit for a minute or two. I throw in the utensils I will be using while cooking, and don’t forget to sterilize the lid too! Be careful not to burn yourself!
After everything is sterilized and ready to go, you pour in your milk. I used non fat milk for the first time, but was scared it would not thicken, so I chickened out and added about 1/2 cup of heavy cream to it. The more milk fat you have, the thicker and creamier your yogurt will be. Also, only use non pasteurized or pasteurized milk. Don’t use ultra pasteurized milk because the more pasteurized it is, the less likely it is that it will thicken.
Next, you turn your crock pot on to high, and you let it do it’s thing for about two hours. (insert Jeopardy music here)
Check the temperature every once in a while, and when you hit 180 F turn the Crock Pot off. I lucked out and happened to check it on this day at the perfect temperature! I have never done that before, and as you will see later, it probably will never happen again!
Remove the lid, and wait another 2 1/2-3 more hours. Then check the temperature again. Stir several times within that time, to help lower the temperature all the way though the pot. You are looking for the pot to be at 115 F. See, I didn’t quite get the temp right this time, but I was pretty dang close!
Once you have reached 115 F, you take a ladle, or a measuring cup, or something with a handle (that you have sterilized already, and scoop maybe about a cup of the warm milk into a separate bowl.
Once you have that, you add 1/2 cup-1 cup of yogurt with live active cultures to the small bowl and stir up the mixture. It is possible to get live active cultures without using a yogurt starter like this, and if you have that, then this is the time to add it. I don’t have access in Korea, so I have to start with some store bought yogurt. Once it is well mixed, you stir it back into the crock pot. The 115 degree(ish) temperature will allow the cultures to thrive on the milk and grow, but it is not too hot to kill them.
Then you put the lid back on tuck in your crock pot for the night! You wrap a beach towel or something large and warm around and over the pot to incubate it so the cultures have time to thrive, rather than cool off too much to do anything. I don’t really have any extra towels in my house, so I use a really heavy sweatshirt.
|This picture reminds me of the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter!|
Now that it is all tucked in for the night, I go to bed.
When I wake up, this is what I find:
It is very thick, and it is starting to separate from the whey. Now it is time to strain. I use the same filter bags to strain yogurt, that I use in my almond milk, only in my yogurt, I have to double up the bags, or the yogurt strains right out…
First I use my blender pitcher just to hold the bags open while I pour, but I don’t have the blade in the bottom. I place it in a bowl, and put the two layers of filter bags inside of this.
I carefully pour the yogurt into the bags, and tie up the top of the bags. Then I put the bags into a mesh strainer. then I put a bowl underneath to catch the whey coming out. I knew it was going to be unattended for several hours, because I did this before work, so I had to put this in a deep bowl for straining. So, I took this full bag, with the tops tied up, and in a strainer and just put it back over the crock pot, as it is the deepest bowl I have.
I left this all day, and when I came back home from work, the crock was half full with whey. There was a little runny yogurt in it, but not enough to care about. Until it gets thick, you have to expect a little yogurt to run out.
Once it is to the point it has been draining for hours, I give it a little squeeze. Not too hard but to ring out any more whey that is hiding in the bag. I get a container ready for the yogurt to go into, and then I untie the bags and take the outer bag off. I usually tie the inner bag closed again once I have it down to only one layer.I get the yogurt into one corner, and over the canister I use, and then I use my kitchen sheers to cut off the corner like a pastry bag. I squeeze it into the container, and salvage as much as I can from the bag. Most of it comes out with only a little bit that sticks. I didn’t get a pic of this step cause I need both hands to do it, and my hands were really really messy!
You can just see how thick and creamy it is!
Now your yogurt is ready for you to put in a bowl and add some honey, or jam, or in my case, it is ready to prepare meals with…like the tatzikiki I am looking forward to making with it this week!