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What’s in yogurt?
Essentially milk, cultures, and sweeteners. Make your own, and you get control of which sweeteners go in, while also saving money. And since yogurt is one of the best things you can be eating, it’s a great recipe to incorporate into your cooking habits.
I eat yogurt almost every day, so that I have good bacteria living in my guts to help my digestion. Eric and I figured out that we can make twice as much yogurt for half the price of the cheapest store-bought! We did this based on Wal-Mart milk ($3.68/gal) and Wal-Mart Great Value plain yogurt (about $2.40/32oz). And if you can find milk for cheaper, and the yogurt you usually buy is more expensive (say, Publix brand or the smaller, fruited cups), you’ll save even more.
Here’s the basic recipe I’ve been following.
Yogurt making involves three main steps:
1. Preparing an environment conducive to bacteria growth
2. Allowing time for the bacteria to grow
3. Adding desired flavours to the finished product
For about eight cups of yogurt (64oz.), you’ll need eight cups of milk and about six tablespoons of full-fat plain yogurt that contains live and active cultures (it should say somewhere on the package).
1. Take the yogurt starter out of the fridge and turn your crock pot on low, while you heat the milk over medium on the stove. Stir milk occasionally. When milk becomes bubbly and frothy, let it continue to foam for a couple of minutes. In the meantime, check the temperature of the crock pot. It should be nice and toasty, but not burning to the touch. If it’s too hot, turn it down to the “keep warm” or lower setting while the milk cools. When the milk is no longer burning to the touch, mix about a cup of milk with the yogurt, stirring gently. Pour the remaining milk into the crock, then gently stir in the yogurt mixture.
2. Turn off and unplug the crock pot. Wrap it in one or two bath towels and let it sit several hours, or overnight. In the morning, place the crock directly into the fridge to let it cool and continue to thicken. (Do NOT stir it or dip into it, or it won’t thicken as well!)
3. After 2+ hours, dip into the fresh yogurt and enjoy it over fruit, or swirled with honey, maple syrup, vanilla or peanut butter. Flavour individual portions of yogurt just before you eat, rather than the whole batch. If whey liquid forms over the yogurt batch, stir it in (the yogurt will become runnier) or pour it off and save it to add to soup, smoothies, or lemonade. Set aside about 1/3 cup of the fresh yogurt to be the starter in the next batch.
Troubleshooting: If you want a thicker yogurt, experiment with the amount and type of starter you use, and be sure to use whole milk or raw milk. If the crock pot doesn’t work for you, try another method of keeping the culturing milk warm. You could divide the milk mixture into several large glass jars, and keep them in a large cooler of warm-hot water, as many recipes suggest.