Two of my girls are yogurt lovers. They especially love fruit yogurt. I have spent a small fortune on yogurt over the years. One day, I was cruising through my favorite blogs, A Year of Slow Cooking, and I came across this recipe for making yogurt in the crock pot. Can you believe it? You can make yogurt at home with a couple of ingredients and some time. Ingredients that you probably already have on hand. Of course, making yogurt at home is great, but it has the pass the taste test. I made a batch over the holidays when my sister was here. The kids that like yogurt, loved it! My two girls have eaten several bowls. In fact, I have since made another batch. This recipe makes a large amount...bonus! I found a gallon of organic milk marked down to $2.00 so I will be able to make two big batches of yogurt for $2.00. Yes, that's right.....two bucks! Better yet, if you set aside a half cup of the unflavored yogurt from your batch, you can use this the next time you make yogurt and you will never have to buy yogurt from the store again.
While this recipe is very easy and the crock pot does most of the work, it does take some time, so be prepared. I also strain the yogurt to make it a bit firmer the way the my kids like it. I strain it in batches through coffee filters and a colander and get about 3 cups of whey (this can be poured out). My sister made a batch and put a pack of unflavored gelatin and got a firm yogurt. My girl's love strawberry yogurt so I take about a cup of frozen strawberries with a half cup of sugar. I let the strawberries macerate until they are thawed and then smash the berries with a fork to break them up a bit. I then add the strawberries and juice to the yogurt and mix until combined. According to my girls the yogurt is perfect and they like it much better than the expensive store bought kind.
I highly recommend making your own yogurt. I think you will be surprised by the results.
(recipe by A Year of Slow Cooking)
8 cups (half-gallon) of whole milk--pasteurized and homogenized is fine, but do NOT use ultra-pasteurized
1/2 cup store-bought natural, live/active culture plain yogurt (you need to have a starter. Once you have made your own, you can use that as a starter)
frozen/fresh fruit for flavoring
4 quart crock pot
Plug in your crock pot and turn to low. Add an entire half gallon of milk. Cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours. Unplug your crock pot. Leave the cover on, and let it sit for 3 hours. When 3 hours have passed, scoop out 2 cups of the warmish milk and put it in a bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup of store-bought live/active culture yogurt. Then dump the bowl contents back into the crock pot. Stir to combine. Put the lid back on your crock pot. Keep it unplugged, and wrap a heavy bath towel all the way around the crock for insulation. Let it sit for 8 hours. After 8 hours, the yogurt will have thickened (it's not as thick as store-bought yogurt, but has the consistency of low-fat plain yogurt).
Blend in batches with your favorite fruit. When you blend in the fruit, bubbles will form and might bother you. They aren't a big deal, and will settle eventually. Chill in a plastic container(s) in the refrigerator. Your fresh yogurt will last 7-10 days. Save 1/2 cup as a starter to make a new batch.
Yogurt after 8 hours.