Thursday, November 15, 2012

Making Yogurt

So I've been tweeting* about making yogurt in the Crock Pot and I thought I might mention it in my Friday Fragments post tomorrow, but it's generated so much interest, I decided that it warranted its own post. This is not, however, a tutorial. There are several excellent ones already available. Just wanted to share my experience.
For the past year or so we have been buying raw milk. We get one gallon a week for our family of four. Buying directly from the dairy farmer is a little different than buying milk at the store. We have a set time to pick up the milk, so we get it whether we need it or not. Besides, raw milk doesn't "keep" as long as store-bought milk, so even if we haven't used the full gallon, after a week or so it begins to go sour.

 One of my daughters is currently experiencing a lactose intolerance, so for the past few weeks I've been ending up with too much milk each week. She had noticed, though, that yogurt doesn't bother her. After doing some research I found out that the lactose in the milk is consumed by the live cultures in the yogurt during the fermenting process. I had heard that making yogurt wasn't hard, and since I had extra milk I decided to try it.

First, I hopped on Google. (What in the world did we do before the internet?) Here are the sites I read before I headed to the kitchen:

Step 1:  About 9 a.m. I made sure my Crock Pot was extra-clean and then poured in a half gallon of milk, and turned it on Low. Then I ignored it for about 2 hours.

Step 2: Removed the lid, turned off the Crock Pot. Checked the temperature of the milk with a kitchen thermometer. You want it to be about 180 and mine was a little higher than that, so I'll check it sooner next time. I also stirred in the "skin" that had formed on the top of the milk. Apparently, it's better to remove that, for a smoother yogurt, so I'll do that next time. Leaving the lid off to let in the bacteria from the air, I kept an eye on it for the next hour or so, "taking its temperature" every few minutes. I was watching for it to get down to about 110 degrees. This was the only "fiddly" part of the whole process, being sure to catch it at 110. At that time, I stirred in about a fourth of a cup of store-bought plain yogurt. I bought the Greek-style because I could get the "plain" in a smaller container. I think it doesn't really matter what style it is as long as it contains live cultures. Then I replaced the lid, and wrapped the whole Crock Pot (outer part and all) in a thick blanket and shoved it to the back of the counter. That was at noon. I didn't do another thing to it until bedtime.

Step 3: Just before I went to bed I unwrapped the Crock Pot and peeked inside. It had set up nicely! I was so pleased. A little whey had separated so I gave it a stir or two just to see what it looked like, and I tasted it. Oh, yum! A little tart, and unflavored, but I could tell I had made real yogurt! I lifted the inner crock part of the Crock Pot out of the appliance part and just set it in the fridge until morning.

Step 4: This morning I took out one serving and stirred in honey and frozen berries for breakfast. Tasty! I decided to try straining the whey, which is an optional step, to make it a little thicker. Apparently, straining the whey off is what makes it Greek-style. I lined a colander with coffee filters (having no cheese cloth) and set it down in a large bowl. After about an hour, a cup or so of whey had drained off, which I reserved because I understand it can be used for cooking. Then I stirred in agave nectar and vanilla, and persuaded my kids to taste it. They were more impressed than they expected to be. "Tastes a little bit like ice cream!"

Don't you love it when something you try turns out great the first time?

*Even if you're not on Twitter, you can read my Twitter feed in the side-bar of my blog, if you didn't realize that already.


Keetha Broyles said...

Dear Karla,

Is there ANY domestic skill in which you are NOT proficient?

You even make YOGURT???

I think I am not even worthy to strap your sandals.



Can ONLY make noodles from scratch and possess no other domestic skills.

A Romantic Porch said...

Yummy! I've been reading about making yogurt, but haven't done it yet. Glad you were happy with yours.