there are tutorials and recipes for crock pot yogurt all over the internet right now. after reading a couple, er, a dozen of them yesterday i decided to dabble a little and see if i could get this to work for me. after all incubating yogurt in a crock pot makes perfect sense, right? everything went well though it took me a lot longer than i expected, partly because i was experimenting some and also because my little crock pot is pretty basic and definitely not top of any line. so i changed a few things to suit my needs and wrote up a quick tutorial so you can give it a try too!
CROCK POT HONEY GREEK YOGURT
gather your ingredients. you will need ::
1/2 gallon (8 cups) of milk. i used 2% but it my understanding any will work. in my yogurt making experience the higher the fat content the richer and creamier the yogurt.
1/4-1/2 cup starter yogurt. i had approximately 1/4 cup of our favorite honey greek yogurt left so that is what i used. make sure your starter yogurt has live cultures in it. after your homemade yogurt is done you will save a half cup of it to add to your next batch and so on.
3/4 cup honey.
the process is pretty simple - you will need to slowly heat the milk to 180 degrees, or until it is hot and steamy and just below a boil. the first batch in my crock pot on low heat took 3.5 hours to reach this point! instead of waiting the second time i preheated my crock by turning it to low and putting the lid on, then i heated the milk in a sauce pan over med-low heat on the stove until it was hot enough. just be careful not to scald your milk otherwise your yogurt will have a charred taste. no good.
once it has reached the proper temp pour it into the warm crock and let it cool uncovered until it is 110 degrees or you can do the finger test - the milk should be very warm but not hot. it took about 90 minutes for mine to cool. at this point i scooped a cup out and stirred my starter yogurt into it then added the cup back to the crock. now it is time to add the flavoring - i whisked in 3/4 cup of raw honey.
next you will put the lid on the crock and carefully wrap it in a heavy towel or better yet, a wool blanket, and place it in the oven and let it sit, undisturbed, for 8-9 hours. this is the incubation period. if you plan your yogurt making right you can pop it in the oven just before bed and let it sit over night. when it is time remove it from the oven and take a peek inside - you should have yogurt! refrigerate for a couple hours and move on to "greeking" your yogurt.
time to transform that yummy but runny yogurt into the thick, creamy treat we all love!
you will line a colander with a couple layers of cheesecloth - i used some organic cotton gauze that i had hanging out in my studio. i can rinse it out after each batch and use it over and over! set your lined colander in a bowl and make sure the bottom of the colander sets high enough that it will not rest in the liquid that drains off. scoop your yogurt into the colander and cover it up (my crock pot lid fit perfect!) and place in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. you can check on it periodically until it has reached a thickness you prefer.
that's it! you just replicated your favorite honey greek yogurt! yay! my batch nearly filled the 32 ounce container in the photo. we ate it for lunch with homemade strawberry jam mixed in.
and that suspicious looking yellow liquid in the mason jar, that is what drained off the yogurt. it is called whey and can be used for all sorts of things so don't toss it! you can use it in place of milk or water when baking. it can be made into ricotta cheese. i have read that soaking oats or beans in whey will make them cook faster. and apparently plants and chickens LOVE this stuff so that is likely what mine will be used for this time.
here are a few ideas i came up with for flavoring future batches of yogurt ::
lemon extract and raw sugar
so there you have it! please let me know if you give this a try! and i am also open to more flavoring suggestions.
happy yogurt making, friends!