I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of yogurt. My stomach doesn’t tolerate lactose very well, so I tend to purchase Greek yogurt, which is lower in lactose and slightly more expensive. I really wanted to start making my own yogurt, since I eat it for breakfast and for a snack during the day. After some research, I found a recipe I liked and gave it a shot. It turned out marvelously well! I used the DIY crock pot yogurt method – it’s basic, only requires two ingredients, and produces a lot of yogurt. You’ll only spend $5-7 on materials (I’ll break down my costs for you at the end!) and end up with yogurt for the whole week, if not longer. The great thing about this method is that you can pretty much set your yogurt and let it make itself overnight or while you’re away at work. And, if you decide you have enough yogurt, it’s easy to make cheese or dip from the rest! So, let’s not waste any time here. You’re going to want to go out and make your own yogurt right after you read this!
What you’ll need:
- Milk (I used 1%)
- Plain yogurt (I also used 1%) with live cultures
- Crock pot (any size – mine is1.5 quarts)
- Dark-colored towel or blanket
- Cheesecloth (A clean, unbleached white t-shirt, sheet, or pillowcase will also work)
Pour milk into the crockpot. Mine holds 1.5 quarts, so I put in 4 cups of milk. Most larger crockpots should hold 8 cups comfortably. Leave a little extra room to account for the froth it will produce, as well as the yogurt you’ll have to add.
Cover your crockpot and turn it to low for about an hour. The milk should reach about 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Turn off the crockpot and let it sit for roughly 30 minutes – keep it covered. This should cool the milk to a comfortable 115-120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Add a small amount of yogurt to the mix to start the process. Since I used 4 cups of milk, I put in 1/4 cup of yogurt. If you used 8 cups of milk, put in 1/2 cup, and so on. You don’t need to add a lot of yogurt to start the yogurt-making process.
Wrap the crockpot with your towel. The key is to ensure that it stays warm in a dark, still environment. That’s when the bacteria will be the most active.
Wait 6-12 hours. If you wait for a shorter period of time, the yogurt will be runnier and not as tangy. It will have a higher lactose content. If you wait 10-12 hours, you’ll get thicker, tangier yogurt, similar in taste and consistency to Greek yogurt.
Depending on how thick you like your yogurt, you’ll have to strain it a bit. You’ll notice that it’s still fairly runny at this point, but that doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong.
I set up a bowl to catch the whey, and put a small strainer on top of it to filter the yogurt.
Next, lay your cheesecloth over the strainer. I used an old pillowcase for mine. Pour your yogurt in. Don’t worry if some whey has already separated; it’ll filter through again.
Tip: Whether you choose to use real cheesecloth or a t-shirt/sheet alternative, ensure that the cloth is untreated with chemicals, and hasn’t been washed with detergent recently. You don’t want your yogurt to taste like soap.
If you want a thicker yogurt, cover this and set it in the fridge. Let it drain for a few hours, and you’ll end up with your own homemade Greek yogurt. If you want something similar to plain yogurt, strain it for only a half an hour to an hour. You can test it every so often to see how it’s shaping up.
After you’re done, you can collect the whey and save it. Use it instead of milk in shakes or baking recipes. Maybe someday I’ll try more things – but I used it in my protein shakes and it worked wonderfully!
As promised, here’s the cost breakdown:
- 1 gallon of 1% milk (pasteurized, non-organic): $2.99
- 1 quart of plain 1% yogurt: $2.99
- So, for $6, I could make 16 cups of yogurt, or roughly 16 servings. That’s only about 38 cents per yogurt.
I’m sure I could do this for an even lower cost had I managed to find a better brand of milk and yogurt, or if I had a coupon. I’m not a big dairy consumer, so I didn’t do a lot of research. Still, I think I did pretty well.
You can also use half of your ingredients for yogurt and do something different with the other half – make your own cheese, dips, frozen yogurt, or do something totally crazy and creative. No matter what you choose, you’ll love experimenting with your own homemade yogurt. You’ll never want to buy store yogurt again!