Yesterday I made homemade yogurt for the first time, and it was surprisingly easy! I have heard of making yogurt at home before, but always assumed you needed special ingredients/equipment/etc. Nope! All you need is a pot (or crock pot), some yogurt, and some milk. A thermometer can also be useful but not completely necessary.
I was inspired to try yogurt making after reading a post about it on The Kitchn. They outline the stove top method, but after reading through the comments and seeing that some people use their crock pots I decided to try it that way. It seemed like it would be easier to be more hands-off with it and be able to have it just heating up on its own while I was busy with Lewis.
The recipe on the Kitchn includes instructions to heat it up to just under 200 degrees (I’ve seen other recipes saying go to 185), while the crock pot method just says heat on low 2 1/2 hours. I used a half gallon of Horizon organic whole milk, which happened to be on sale when I went to the store. I heated on low two and a half hours, itching to take a peak at it but opening the crock pot makes it lose heat so I made myself wait. Once the time was reached I checked the temp and it was only up to 140. I switched it up to high and I think ended up heating it another hour and a half before it reached 185.
At that point I turned it off and just left it sitting covered to slowly cool down to 115 while I was busy with Lewis. After about an hour I cracked the lid open slightly so it could cool the rest of the way a bit faster. It took about 2 -2 1/2 hours total to cool. I then scooped some out, whisked in my half cup of yogurt (Greek Gods plain yogurt – one of my favorites) and poured it back in. I wrapped the whole thing up in a towel and that was that.
You are supposed to try to keep it around 110 degrees for at least 4-6 hours, but can go up to overnight. Mine sat for about 5 hours. I checked the temp when I unwrapped it and it was already a little under 100, so if I want to incubate longer I will need to insulate it more. Some people suggest putting it inside the oven or the microwave, or I could just wrap another layer of towel over it.
I was happy to see it looking thick and yogurty when I opened up the crock pot! I was a little bit worried it wouldn’t thicken up. Some info that I read mentioned that people have trouble using “ultra-pasteurized” milk, which mine was. Thankfully it seems to have worked just fine!
I had a small taste when I opened it last night, then put it in the fridge to chill and thicken up a bit more. This morning I enjoyed a nice bowl of fresh homemade yogurt for breakfast!
I ate it plain because I wanted to really taste the character of the yogurt. It tastes very fresh and yummy with a little bit of tangy-ness. It is quite soft and runny compared to store bought. Apparently the longer you keep it warm the more it will thicken but it will also get more tangy. You can also thicken it by straining it through a cheese cloth or coffee filter. I plan on straining some to make a thicker yogurt for Lewis because he makes less of a mess with the greek-style yogurts, but for myself eating it and for smoothies and such this is perfect.
I also plan on trying it with yummy toppings suck as honey, fresh fruit, chia seeds, granola, ginger spread, etc. etc.
This is really good and I am looking forward to making it again! Next time will be even easier since I now know to heat it on high and have an idea of approximately how long that will take, and also know that I need to wrap it up a bit more. I am also curious to try different brands of milk to see how that affects the flavor. The other cool thing is that next time I can just save half a cup from this batch and use that as a starter – no need to buy more store bought yogurt to get it going!
I also used some of this in a smoothie today for Lewis, which he guzzled down. I don’t use a recipe for my smoothies, just throw together whatever I have on hand and mix it up with the immersion blender (which Lewis loves watching.) Today’s smoothie included: Homemade yogurt, papaya, grapes, a handful of oats, a sprinkle of chia seeds, and a handful of mustard greens! Mustard greens can be a bit spicy, but I didn’t put in enough for that to come through in the taste. I could mostly taste the papaya and a hint of the oats in this one. Lewis must have liked it since he drank even more than he usually does, and he loves smoothies!