I saw a recipe once for making yogurt in the crock pot, but so many of the comments were negative, saying that it had come out runny, that it discouraged me. I lost my motivation.
Until this week. The fact that we go through yogurt so fast had gotten me thinking about really doing this some way in which I can make bigger batches.
Then I discovered, "A Year of Slow Cooking." I know, I know, I'm way behind the times, but I'm SO excited! That blog will become one of the three cookbooks I'll be using for a year starting in April. (I'll share the other two in a later post.) Stephanie's enthusiasm and results along with the many positive results shared in the comments motivated to try this, and as she would say, "It works! It really really works!"
My daughter and I enjoyed the tastiest most perfectly textured yogurt today that I have had in a long long time...if ever!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU STEPHANIE! My fingers aren't quite shaking, but I'm very very excited, which is why I'm writing this post right now when I should be doing a lot of other things!
I won't repeat all of Stephanie's recipe, you can just check it out here. I will describe how I "sorta kinda" adapted it.
1. I heated a half gallon of whole milk on low fro 2.5 hours as the recipe called for.
2. The next step was to unplug it and let it sit for three hours. I didn't exactly follow this because I have the thermometer that goes with my mom's old yogurt machine that is perfect for global folks like me and doesn't even have numbers! It just has an arrow signaling, "When the temperature is here, mix in the starter!" Love it!
Therefore, I took off the lid and let it sit a while and checked a couple of times...not sure how much time went by, I think it was about an hour, but the temperature was just right the second time, so I scooped out two cups of it into a separate bowl and mixed in a half cup of store bought yogurt.
3. Then, since I knew it was at the perfect temperature, I put the lid on the pot and wrapped that sucker in TWO HUGE towels as airtight as I possibly could, because I knew it needed to not get any cooler.
4. Then I just forgot about it. The this morning, around 7:30, I remembered. I hadn't been in the kitchen yet because my dear husband brings me a mug of coffee as I stagger to a chair in the living room in the mornings where I remain with my coffee until Lydia wakes up and/or I remember that yogurt is incubating on the counter! For this reason, it was incubating for about 12 hours. I'd meant to leave it for only 10.
When I opened it up I saw clumpy yogurt with liquid separating it a little. I was excited because I knew this meant "not soupy." Yay! This was after stirring a tad:
I did a quick search on uses of whey and got some great information really quickly. I knew I wanted to get some of that whey out for a bit thicker consistency of yogurt, so first I tried using our coffee sieve and scooping out a bit at a time and letting the whey drip off. I quickly learned that this was not going to work.
I thought I needed cheese cloth but I tried using one of our buffet style cloth napkins that we use as kitchen cloth because it is thin. I wet it, wrung it out, and laid it in a colander which I sat on a bowl. I emptied the crock pot of yogurt into the colander and sat it in the fridge for an hour or two. I know that's a broad range, but that's just how I work.
I was so excited when I pulled it out. The yogurt was just right, and I had about 2 cups of whey. Exactly the amount that I needed to substitute whey for water in my easy homemade bread recipe (which I'll be posting some tips on soon). I learned from my earlier search that using it instead of water to prep the yeast would make the bread moister and add some protein. I'm excited about all of the potential uses of whey, a great list of which you can find in this discussion on Chow Hound. It led me on a search about how to make mozzarella cheese, which I might just try after our trip to Brazil!
So finally I had a big bowl of yogurt in the fridge and a nice bit of whey on top waiting for the bread baking, which happened to be today since we just ran out.
I was distracted and left out a couple of important steps in the bread making and we were short on yeast. It's cooling now, but I don't expect the results to be stellar. I will try again and let you know how it turns out!
All in all, I can see this EASILY becoming a weekly routine! Set milk in the crock pot on low for a couple of hours around dinner time. Take the lid off and let it cool, keep check, but it should be ready in an hour or so to mix in a tad of last weeks yogurt. Then wrap it up in two towels and forget about it until the next morning. Save the whey and make bread for the week as well. LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Scratch yogurt off my grocery list! Woo Hoo!!!!