Sorry for the delay in posting around here...life has been a little nutty lately with traveling, a wedding, sick babies, hospital stays and yard work!
I've had a couple requests for this post, so this morning I decided I better get cracking!
(Sorry for the wait, M!)
Remember my granola post? Well, at the same time I was kicking and screaming at the price of granola, I was whining and complaining at the cost of the yogurt hubby was eating with it. The artificial sweeteners were making me cringe too. But for some reason, the thought of tackling homemade yogurt put me into a bit of a sweat. Until I discovered a method that convinced me I really could do it! And without a yogurt maker! Bonus!
Now I make yogurt about every two days and the family LOVES it.
(And yes, hubby also claimed he would never eat homemade yogurt either...I had to trick him into thinking I was making it for the kids. Now he devours it so fast, the kids don't have a chance!)
So let me encourage you to try it.
You'll love the taste, the health factor and the money saved!
First, you'll need a crock pot. I bought the most inexpensive, smallest one I could find. I think I spent about $10 on this one. I figured if the yogurt experiment was a fail, at least I hadn't lost much.
Then you'll need four cups of whole milk. I've never tried lower fat milk before so I'm not sure how that work.
If you try it...please let me know the results!
Pour the milk into the crock pot and add a capful of maple syrup and a capful of vanilla. Stir.
Now - again I'm going to harp on the quality of ingredients. The first several times I made this, I used vanilla from Mexico and the flavor was heavenly. Amazing. Then I ran out, so I bought a bottle of pure vanilla from our local grocery store. The flavor was so awful, I stopped using it. So if your vanilla has a really strong alcohol scent to it, I'd suggest skipping it altogether...it will not taste heavenly. Trust me!
As for the maple syrup...it's a small enough amount that it merely adds a sweetness without
making it taste like a pancake.
Turn the crock pot to "low" and let it cook for 2.5 hours.
Then turn it off and let it sit all by it's lonesome self for 3 hours.
After three hours, scoop out about a cup of the milk into a bowl. Here's where you are initially going to need some store bought yogurt. Buy plain yogurt that has active bacterial culture. Just read the ingredient label.
Take out about 1/4 cup and add to the 1 cup of warm milk.
Whisk it together well and pour back into the crock pot.
Now you need to cozy it all up to get things working!
You need to wrap a towel around the whole works in order to insulate it and get it workin'.
Please ignore my dirty oven. I like to put the crock pot on a cookie sheet and pop it into my oven and leave it there until it's done. My counter space is at a serious minimum, so this is just convenient for me,
but it isn't necessary.
And because I'm a freak like that,
I put the top oven rack on top of my stove to remind me not to turn the oven on!!
Let the milk sit for at least eight hours or even overnight. I tend to start my yogurt around 9:00 am and then leave it overnight, but I'm a little lazy. It's usually "set" by around 10:30 pm...but I'd rather be in bed then so I ignore it until morning.
This step is totally optional. I big, fat LOVE Greek style yogurt. But then, who doesn't?
So - the next morning, I line a colander with a coffee filter and put a bowl underneath the colander.
Look how nice and creamy that is! Woohoo! This part always makes me excited!
Now, this I almost ALWAYS forget. Make sure you take about 1/4 cup of yogurt out to use as a starter the next time around! Just keep it in a little container in the fridge until you need it.
That will keep you from running to the store at 10:00 pm to buy another container of starter for the next morning, not that I've ever had to do that.
Then pour about half the batch into the colander. I can't find industrial sized coffee filters any where in town, so I have to do this half at a time, but if you can find something bigger...yahoo!
Let the yogurt sit in the fridge and strain for however long you like. The longer you let it sit, the thicker it gets.
I let it sit for at least 10 hours, but that might be much longer than necessary.
When you've decided you've waited long enough, you'll find this lovely stuff in the bottom of your bowl!
And in your colander, you will have some serious yogurty goodness. Yum, yum, yum.
Scoop it out of the coffee filter and strain off the second half. I keep the unstrained yogurt in the crockpot in the fridge until the colander is free.
Here it is. Creamy goodness.
Straining it really does cut down the amount of yogurt you'll be left with...probably by half...just warning you.
But in my opinion it is totally worth it, both flavor-wise and penny-wise.
It's still costs much, much less than buying it.
I'm sorry. I am no food stylist.
Now you can add whatever you like to it. We love raspberry or blackberry jam in ours, especially when the yogurt has vanilla in it. Yummy.in.my.tummy. (Err...make that hubby's tummy.)
You could try fresh fruit...whatever tickles your taste buds! Just make sure you try it!
I doubt you'll ever go back to store bought!