Yogurt Making Adventures

I went one step further in my food journey. I made my own yogurt. I never even knew you could do that until about 9 months ago. I think at the time I said, “I’ll never do that. I’ll just buy it at the store and leave that to the real farmers.” I laugh at myself. If you ever here me say “never” I can guarantee I’ll be doing it soon. I once said I would never marry…and here I am 5 years later and quite happy that I did in fact get married.

So you aren’t here to learn about the random things in my life so let me just move on and tell you all about my yogurt making adventures. Honestly? It was EASY. I will admit I am scared beyond belief of the other yogurt making methods out there that I have come across. No matter how many picture tutorials I see…I CAN’T DO IT. I just can’t get past this fear that I will fail. So, I went with what I had on hand…a crockpot…and I followed a very easy recipe. I still can’t believe I made yogurt in my crockpot. I love the beast (nickname for my EXTRA LARGE crockpot). It has served me well making many soups and lately cooking whole chickens and then making homemade stock out of the bones. So imagine my surprise when I read that I could use that same contraption to make yogurt. The crockpot really is my friend. 
I used a recipe from Heartland Renaissance and loved it. Here is the yogurt cooking away…
I was so scared to open the lid when it was done. I was so sure it would end up just being milk in there, but seriously after all those hours of cooking and incubating I had real live full of probiotics yogurt!! You guys…it was the most amazing sight. We go through yogurt ridiculously fast and buying the most expensive one…usually Brown Cow Whole Milk Yogurt with the cream on top. SOOOO YUMMY! Spending almost $4 on 32 ounces of yogurt that only lasted us a couple days was just not working for me. Literally the only “start up” cost was a half gallon of milk and one cup of yogurt from the store. Next time I’ll just use a 1/2 cup of yogurt from the batch I just made (which I already have hidden away in the fridge) and then my only cost will be the half gallon of milk. So for less than $2 I will have 4 pints of yogurt…amazing. 
I’m in love.
For those of you wondering…yes we do drink raw milk, but I chose not to use it for yogurt making. It’s pretty much impossible to make good yogurt and keep the milk in its raw state. While the raw milk would still have the benefits coming from grass fed cows, to me it wasn’t worth it at this time. We are on a TIGHT budget so we treat every bit of our milk like gold. We choose to drink the milk raw and I just went and bought regular whole milk (hormone free). We will probably sub organic milk (be sure its not ultra pasteurized!) from time to time, but for now we feel like this is one place where we can save a lot of money, and still get the benefits. We just have to pick and choose. 
Seriously, if I can make my own yogurt YOU CAN TOO. I mean it. Let me know if you have questions…this was my first attempt so I’m certainly no pro, but I love trying to help. 
If the crockpot method isn’t for you, there is this updated version
Need more inspiration? Kitchen Stewardship just finished up some awesome tutorials.

***UPDATE:
6/8/12

I have a 6 qt. crockpot (most recipes call for a 4 qt.) and through some trial and error I landed on the perfect timing for an even thicker yogurt. While the last one tasted great, this one just looks almost perfect.

Tip #1: During the first step, let it sit on keep warm (or low if you don’t have that setting) for another 10-20 minutes.

Tip #2: Let the yogurt sit 30-45 minutes longer during the second step (so 3 1/2 or so instead of just 3).

Tip #3: Don’t move your crockpot! (I had an ant invasion in my kitchen…apparently they could smell it cooking from outside?!).

Tip #5: When whisking in your yogurt starter, be careful not to whisk up any bits from the bottom of the crockpot. Mine cooks extra hot so some of the milk “burns” to the bottom…be careful of those.

Tip #6: Wash your mason jars/old spaghetti jars/etc. and lids in your dishwasher. Let them dry fully and then cap tightly. I store mine in a cabinet so they are already sanitized and ready to go for my next yogurt making adventure…or fermenting…or…

So, there are some tips in there whether or not you have a 6 qt. crockpot. I just wanted to tell you what worked for me today! Honestly…I found out all of that because I kind of sort of forgot about it. We were celebrating our anniversary and well…the yogurt just wasn’t a priority. WHOOPS.

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