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the haas machine: Crockpot Yogurt

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Crockpot Yogurt

 Decadently thick homemade yogurt with fresh strawberries & basic almond granola

Last night I almost killed our yogurt. And our pipes. And maybe even us. It was about -20 F & I shut off our heat (accidentally). I was fooling around with our programmable thermostat earlier in the day & in order to update the settings, you first need to shut the heat off, so I did. And then I got busy messing with the thermostat, which reminded me that I needed to throw our diapers in the dryer, which reminded me that I had a mound of other laundry to fold, which reminded me that I needed to re-organize some of Ruby's clothes... & the list went on & on, which meant that I forgot to turn the heat back on.

And then we borrowed Mad Men from our library & I honestly don't remember the rest of the night because I was in total & utter bliss. It's one of our most favorite shows & we've been waiting so patiently for it to come out on DVD so we could binge on all the goodness (how on earth people watch just one episode per week completely baffles me). Our TV is in the basement, so it's always pretty chilly down there, so I didn't notice the heat not being on.

But when I woke up this morning, my nose was cold, which was strange because our room is usually unpleasantly warm in the mornings (thank you radiator heat). At that point, I started wondering if our boiler was dead, which reminded me that I shut off the heat, which reminded me that I had yogurt brewing & that it might actually be dead (again).

The last few batches of yogurt-making haven't been so smooth. Well they've been smooth, just not thick. And I blame it mostly on the frozen tundra-like conditions both inside & outside of my house (we keep it pretty chilly at night, even when the heat is on). So when I ran downstairs & saw that our thermostat read 48 degrees, I worried about our little yogurt baby. Thankfully, my good ol' trusted yogurt-making friend had just suggested that I put the yogurt in the oven, wrapped in blankets & turn the oven light on, so that's what we did last night. And we got a little more into taking the temperature of the brewing yogurt, so now we've got it down.

I make this yogurt just about once a week & it makes a little more than a quart. We're saving all kinds of cash because the yogurt we really like is about $6 (Fage) & this calls for only 1/2 a gallon of milk. I even strain it so it's super thick & creamier than you could even imagine (if you don't strain it you will yield twice as much yogurt). I sub it for sour cream all the time & it's sensational.

Don't let making your own yogurt scare you. I had to get past that fear/weirdness of making yogurt, but once I did, now it's really a struggle for me to buy it. There's lots of different ways to make it, but I enjoy this method the most because it's super simple & for the most part, hands off. Because let's face it, we've all got a lot on our minds, so we don't need another thing to have to think about. Just leave the heat on in your house & it will turn out famously.

Crockpot Yogurt

8 cups of whole milk
1/2 cup of plain yogurt with live active cultures (we like whole milk or 2% Fage)

Directions (for summer)
In a 4 quart crockpot, pour in 1/2 gallon (8 cups) of milk. Turn crockpot on low & heat for 2 hours & 45 minutes. After time has elapsed, turn off the crockpot & let the milk cool in the crock with the lid on for 3 hours. After the additional time has elapsed, remove lid & stir in 1/2 cup of yogurt with live active cultures & mix very well. Place the cover back on the crock & wrap the entire crockpot in a thick bath towel or two & let it sit overnight (8-12 hours). 

In the morning stir yogurt & transfer it to glass quart jars if you like it thinner (you'll also get more this way). If you're like us & are kind of snotty about yogurt & like it thick, strain it. 

I have found the easiest way to do this is to take 4 coffee filters & place them in a strainer so the entire strainer is covered & then put the strainer over a large bowl. Scoop about 2 cups of the yogurt (for an average size strainer) into the strainer & let strain for 20 minutes or so & then place the remaining yogurt from the strainer in a jar & continue straining until you've thickened the heck out of the yogurt. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours before using.

Directions (for winter)
It's pretty similar, you just need to keep an eye on the yogurt more. Instead of letting it cool for 3 hours (after the initial cook time of 2 hours 45 minutes), take the yogurt's temp every so often. When it has cooled to 110 degrees (about 2 hours for us last night), then add your 1/2 cup of yogurt. Also, after you wrap your crockpot in blankets, place the it in the oven with the light on. This will help it to stay at the right temp overnight.

Recipe adapted from milkandhoneyliving.com

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At March 25, 2013 at 1:42 PM , Blogger Walt, Laura & Abigail Smanski said...

Gillian, I noticed the plain yogurt I recently picked up says live, but not live active, cultures. Do you know if there is a difference? And do you think i could make the yogurt using almond or soymilk?

At March 25, 2013 at 1:55 PM , Blogger Gillian @ thehaasmachine said...

I found this on the National Yogurt Association's page (yes, that's for real!) "FDA regulations require that all yogurts be made with active cultures. Only those that are not heat-treated, however, retain live and active cultures when they reach consumers." (http://aboutyogurt.com/index.asp?bid=27)

So I think if it says "live" that you're still good to go because the FDA requires all yogurt to be made with active cultures.

I also found this recipe, specifically for almond milk yogurt (seems like a pretty smilar process): http://caloriecount.about.com/almond-milk-yogurt-homemade-crockpot-recipe-r372639. You'll have to let me know if you try it!


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