Thursday, May 23, 2013
When I first learned how EASY homemade yogurt is to make, I just couldn't believe it (see this post)! Where had I been all these years? Then, to make things even easier, I found this tutorial to make yogurt in a slow-cooker. GENIUS!
Anything that involves a slow-cooker is the perfect way to cook for me. If it involves throwing things into the slow-cooker, turning it on and walking away to do other things.....it's for me!
I knew I'd have to make a few changes from the original recipe. Since I'm the only one in our household that eats yogurt, I knew making a gallon would be more than I could eat in a week (average shelf life of homemade yogurt). I also didn't want to do the whole process of adding gelatin/powdered milk packet to thicken. I thought I would strain through a cheesecloth if it seemed like it was going to be a problem. Here's the modified process I came up with:
You only need two ingredients......2 quarts of whole milk and a 7 oz. container of plain, store-bought yogurt. You'll also need your slow-cooker.
Pour the milk into the slow-cooker. Cover with the lid. Set the dial on the low setting. Plug-in and walk away. You have 2-1/2 hours until you have to come back to do anything with the yogurt. So, go work in your garden, clean house, take a walk, knit/crochet/sew on your current project, take a nap, read a book, whatever.
When your 2-1/2 hours are up, UNPLUG the slow-cooker. Now, you have 3 hours until you have to do anything more with the yogurt. More time to do......whatever.
When your 3 hours are up, check the temperature of the milk. It shouldn't be any warmer than 115-120F (if it is warmer than that-let cool longer). Now, whisk in the 7 oz. of yogurt into the milk. Cover with the lid. Wrap a large towel around the entire slow-cooker to hold in the heat. Let set for 8 hours or overnight.
You're ready to start the finishing phase of your yogurt. First, you'll want to ladle 7 oz. of yogurt into a small container. This will be your "starter" for your next batch. This way you don't have to buy the 7 oz. container of store-bought yogurt. The original recipe also mentions that to keep the "yogurt culture" you should use a carton of store-bought yogurt to freshen it from time to time though.
If you want your yogurt to have a thicker consistency, you can ladle off the watery liquid. You could also pour through a cheesecloth to get that excess "water" out.
Now you can mix in flavoring if you'd like. I like my yogurt sweetened with honey.I poured about 1/2 cup of honey over the top of the yogurt. Then just stir in to mix. You could also use about 3 Tbsp. vanilla by itself or mixed with your favorite sweetener (sugar, Splenda, Stevia....)
Now, just ladle into jars or storage containers and refrigerate. Shelf life is about a week. Eat plain or serve with fruit (apple pie filling might be my favorite!). Enjoy!