Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Crockpot Yogurt ($0.16 per serving)

 
$0.16 per serving     81.5% savings     save $81.30 yearly

Yogurt is a staple in our home... And why is something that you use a lot called a "staple"? What does a staple have to do with consistent use? You don't even EAT staples! At least, I hope not... sorry... I digress...

My 5-year old will eat and eat and eat strawberry yogurt till the cows come home... er... not that we actually have cows. My 3-year old prefers blueberry or vanilla. I like this yogurt sweetened with honey and frozen berries. Yes. Frozen.

We eat it with fresh and frozen fruit, we eat it plain, we eat it with cereal (weird, I know), we use it in other recipes... yogurt makes it onto our table most days of the week.

This recipe/tutorial is for plain yogurt. And it is a good'un... and I feel the need to say: DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED. It's not nearly as hard as you might think. And if you completely botch the first batch (like I did) don't give up. Chock it up to life experience, or anything else that won't deter you from making your own yogurt.

I quadruple this recipe  and use a whole gallon of milk, because we pretty much inhale yogurt around here. 

Crockpot Yogurt
 Printable Tutorial

*yields approx. 3 cups of yogurt

INGREDIENTS
4  cups fresh not-about-to-expire milk (Whole milk will result in thicker yogurt... skim a lot runnier... if it's about to expire, your yogurt will be on the sour side. Trust me.)
2  tablespoons plain yogurt... this is your "starter" (MUST contain live active cultures... try Dannon, Oikos, or Chobani. You can use more starter if you want your yogurt more sour-tasting. After you make this recipe, you can reserve some for later use as a starter if you wish. After about four times of re-using your own yogurt for a starter, it gets a little too sour, and you might want to go buy a new starter.)

DIRECTIONS

 1.) Plug in your crockpot, and turn it on LOW. Leave it alone. Place 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt into a bowl to warm up a bit.
2.)  Pour 4 cups of milk into a saucepan, and heat on medium. (Any hotter, and the milk will burn to the bottom of the pan.) Stir every few minutes, (not constantly) and keep a close eye on it. I know a lot of people are very technical with thermometers and such to get the yogurt to a specific temperature. I'm not that way. I prefer to eliminate that step and just watch for the "almost boiling over" point, which is the right temperature.

3.) While the milk is heating, plug one side of your sink, and fill it with 2-3 inches of cold water. 

4.)  When the milk is bubbly, frothy, has a skin on top, and is just about to boil over, (which will inevitably happen around 20 minutes later) it is hot enough. At this point, you can remove it from the stove, and into the cold water bath in the sink, OR you can slightly decrease the heat, and keep the yogurt heated and simmering for up to 20 more minutes for a THICKER yogurt.

5.)  Allow the milk to cool for about 10 minutes. When you dip your pinkie in, it should be the temperature of a warm bath... not hot. I set my microwave timer so I won't forget about it and let it get too cold. 

6.)  Pour about 1 cup of the warm milk into the bowl with the yogurt starter. Pour the rest into the heated crockpot. Gently stir the milk and yogurt starter together in the bowl, then pour that into the crockpot, and stir as well.

7.)  Unplug the crockpot, and wrap it in a large towel to keep it warmer longer. The yogurt works its magic as it incubates the warm environment. Let it sit there for 10 - 12 hours. Overnight is a good way to do it. Waking up to fresh yogurt is a pretty nice way to start the day.... ahem... back on point: The longer it sits, the firmer the end product.

8.)  The picture doesn't do it justice, but after 10-12 hours, unwrap your crockpot, and check out your yogurt. Go ahead and have a proud moment... dance, squeal, pump your fists in the air, but Do NOT stir it! It will not set up well. Put your crockpot bowl in the the refrigerator. Let it set for at least 4 hours.

9.) Serve and enjoy! If you don't want the liquid on top of the yogurt (the whey) you don't have to stir it in. You can carefully pour it out. (Or strain it with a cheesecloth if you have one... which I don't... you can strain it for a few minutes to hours depending on how thick you want your yogurt.) This yogurt will stay fresh for 7-10 days in the refrigerator.

TIPS: If you make this and decide it's still not as thick as you want it. OR if you don't have a cheesecloth to strain out the whey (me) and want thicker yogurt, you can try adding:

a.) 1/2 c dry milk per quart of milk used. Mix it into the milk before you start heating it on the stove.

b.) 1 teaspoon of gelatin per quart of milk used. Mix it into the milk before heating. Allow it to set for a few minutes to start working its magic before you start heating it.

*As previously stated, my girls like different flavors. I don't recommend adding flavors to the yogurt while you make it, because it may mess with the bacteria culturing. You can add honey and fruit or vanilla afterwards as desired. As with any yogurt, adding flavorings or fruit and stirring it a lot will break the yogurt down and make it less firm... but  tasty nonetheless!




~  Savings  ~

Cost Breakdown:
1  Gallon milk - $2.99 (Kroger sale) = 0.187/cup = $0.748
1  6 oz. container plain yogurt - $1.00 (on sale) = $0.100/T = $0.200
Total recipe cost: $0.95
Cost per 1/2 cup serving: $0.16
The Contender:
Oikos Plain Yogurt 32 oz. = $4.88
Per 1/2 cup serving: $0.61
Savings: 81.5%

"Over a year" scenario:
Make Crockpot yogurt recipe 30 times = $28.50
Use 22 1/2 containers Oikos Plain Yogurt 32 0z. = $109.80
*Money Saved: $81.30 

** Cost will be slightly cheaper after the first batch if you use a starter from your own homemade yogurt rather than buying a new one at the store.  You can use your own starter about 4 times before it gets a bit too sour. After 4 uses it's a good idea to buy a new one.

35 comments:

  1. I tried making yogurt back in K'ville but it was always so runny. These are good tips on how to make it a little thicker. I'm definitely going to try this out in the crockpot.

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  2. Definitely give the tips a try. If you aren't really wanting to add anything extra to your yogurt, then go the whole milk route for the thickest yogurt. Let me know how it turns out for you. I'm sure you'll nail it!

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  3. Success! I used whole milk, added a little bit of powdered milk and stuck it in the crockpot. It was a little bit runny, but not too bad. Next time I'll add a little more powdered milk and simmer the milk a little longer. Thanks for posting this!!!

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    1. Fantastic, Heather! I'm glad it worked out for you. When I first made this, I learned a LOT and subsequent batches got better and better, and I'm sure yours will too.

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  4. I've made my own yogurt, but it was always pretty sour. I was the only one in the family that would choke it down (actually if I added lots of fruit, dried fruit, and granola, it was pretty good...but no one else would eat it.) I never heard about older milk, or old starter that could affect the sourness of homemade yogurt. Maybe I'll have to giver it another try.

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  5. I just found your blog and love it. Here's an even easier way. Put your milk in the crockpot on LOW for 2 hrs/45 min. Turn OFF for 3 hours. Then add 1 cup of the yogurt and whisk it. Cover it with the towels for at least 8 hours. I have gone up to 12 hours. I strain it sometimes with a colander and coffee filters to make "Greek yogurt". Chris

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    1. Chris,

      I love it! I'll have to give it a try, for sure. I love eliminating steps and going for as simple as possible. Thank you for sharing!

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  6. Unless you live in PA, Then your milk will be $3.92 per gallon:(

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    Replies
    1. Oh, no! Really?? I'm sorry to hear that. That makes it $1.18 per recipe and $0.20 per serving. I live in Southern Illinois, and stock up on milk when they do 2 half gallons for $2.99. You might check your local gas station too... many times they are cheaper than the grocery store.

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  7. Thanks for doing the math for me!! Sadly in pa milk is not allowed to go on sale and it has to be the same price every where( unless it is a family owned dairy farm that has a shop or you have a 25% of any regular priced items at cvs :) I just made some more homemade yogurt today.. and I was wondering if you ever had trouble with it turning stringy? I think that I have been making yogurt in the crockpot for about 2 years now, and I have not gotten it to turn out the same way once!! And I make it once a week in gallon batches:)!! ( I have 12 brothers and sisters:) I really love your blog!!

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    1. I'm so sorry about your milk situation. That's awful that it can't go on sale! I've never lived in a state where that was the case (and I've lived in 5). As far as stringy yogurt goes... I've not experienced that either. Runny? Yes. A tiny bit chunky? Yes. But never stringy. I wish I could relate and tell you exactly how to fix the problem, but that is definitely new to me. I think 12 brothers and sisters sounds fun. (There are 7 kids in my family, and it was fantastic growing up!)

      So... I feel like I'm no help to you in this, but just know that I sympathize. Thanks for taking time to comment on here, and I'm really happy you enjoy my site!

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    2. Too funny if a gallon of milk was $3.92 here in Hawaii I think people would jump with joy.. Milk here goes from $5 a gallon to $7.99 per gallon...

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  8. Wow, that is a lot of moving around!! Okay, I think it is just my luck:0 I have had it turn out so many different ways:) I think that I might try using LESS yogurt starter. I use one cup yogurt starer to to 16 cups of milk, and I am starting to think that may be my problem. It is a lot of fun!! I wish I had more sisters,( I only have two) But I would never trade in any of my brothers:)
    Thank you so much, even if you don't feel like you have helped, thank you to take the time to write, and have a great day!!

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  9. Quick question about the yogurt you buy for the "starter" - is it regular yogurt or Greek? And do you have to use full-fat yogurt or can it be fat-free? I am having a difficult time finding plain full-fat yogurt for some reason. Thanks!

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    1. I use Chobani (greek) yogurt, which is fat-free, but there is regular plain and greek yogurt around that is full-fat and would work as well. It just has to have live active cultures listed on the label. :) Hope this helps!

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    2. It does thank you!! And that yogurt is on sale this week - score!

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  10. Made this recipe this weekend and I feel so accomplished! I may have even squealed like a little girl :-). Thank you so much for your recipe - next on my list to make are your burger buns, bagels and granola bars!

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  11. Any idea on how much vanilla or vanilla bean paste I would need to add if I wanted to make vanilla yogurt instead? I have never done this but it sounds simple enough and I love love LOVE vanilla yogurt.

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    1. for the four cups of milk, you will need to add 3 Tbs. of sugar and 1 Tbs vanilla extract once it has reached an almost boil (before it cools). Hope this helps! For some other really good recipes check out: http://naturalwinners.blogspot.com/
      http://borntobakeforever.blogspot.com/
      and
      http://in-mamas-kitchen.blogspot.com/

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  12. Kate, I've never tried making a vanilla/flavored/sugar-added version. Can anyone else answer her question?

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  13. Is there a reason the yogurt needs to be plain? I wouldn't mind if the finished product tasted a little like the starter. Does the sugar/flavor effect the final product?

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    1. Hi Liz. I've never tried to make it with flavoring/sugar, because I've been told several times that it affects the thickness of the yogurt (it can turn soupy). However, I know other have made it successfully WITH flavor and sugar added. I don't have a link to any of those recipes, but I believe they use more thickening agent like gelatin to help it stay somewhat thick. I personally like the plain yogurt, and adding sweetener (honey) and berries to it for flavor. Hope this helps!

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  14. Do you have a dairy free version? I'm allergic to all milk.

    I use almond milk. There are almond and soy yogurts that have active cultures I can use, but not sure if it will work with the almond milk. Things don't thicken very well with almond or soy milk (like box pudding).

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    1. Hi there. Unfortunately, I don't have a dairy-free version. I think your best bet would be to do a google search. Sorry. I know that's a lame answer, but I just have no idea if almond milk would work in place of regular milk. You could always give it a try and use extra gelatin to help it hold together. But I honestly don't know how it would turn out. Good luck!

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  15. Hi! I am wondering if this recipe can be successfully doubled or tripled.many thanks! I love your blog, by the way!

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    1. Wow! Having a new baby has put me way behind on replying to comments/emails. :) The answer to your question is YES! It can definitely be doubled or tripled successfully. :) Good luck!!

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  16. Does it make a difference if you use regular or Greek plain yogurt?
    I want to try this, but I should buy some fresh milk first - thanks for the tip!! Milk here is $1.99/gallon at Aldi. :)

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    1. I ended up trying it with the Chobani plain Greek yogurt, like you did.
      I blogged about it here:
      http://recipeshappen.wordpress.com/2013/11/20/homemade-yogurt/
      Thanks for a great recipe!

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  17. YES! I made the yogurt and it came out perfectly! The whole house was satisfied. Oh, Yeah I did do a fist pump and squeal when I saw my creation!!

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  18. Finally tried this for the first time 4 days ago, and I've already got batch #2 sitting on the counter culturing!! Woot!

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  19. Is the final product Greek Yogurt?

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    1. Nope. But if you strain it with a cheese cloth till the whey and water content is mostly gone, you will end up with Greek yogurt. :)

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  20. Thanks so much for posting about not using a thermometer! Mine broke and I wasn't sure if I should get another since it didn't seem to last very long but I really didn't want to stop making yogurt! My husband would pout I think lol. I put 2 cups of powdered milk in a gallon and let it go for 12 hours. That's what seems to work best for us, it's pretty thick I think. My husband can eat it plain but I cannot lol. The last time I made yogurt I decided not to use my crockpot because I wanted to make a roast in it. I have heard of using a cooler or oven but my oven light doesn't put out enough heat and I don't have a cooler. What I do have is a really sturdy large wooden box that had my cast iron set in it ( was a great gift from my in-laws) So I put a small towel in the bottom and then a large flannel sheet. I put the yogurt into the containers I normally use when it is done. I put the containers in the box along with a jar of hot water I had microwaved. I used the rest of the sheet to cover it all, put a small towel on top for good measure and closed the box, then wrapped it in a blanket. About half way through (6 hours for me) I put another jar of hot water in the box. The first one was still warm so I might not have needed to add one. After 12 hours, I took them out and they were done and looked great! I might even venture to say they were better than when I used the crockpot. That may be because of the hot water, where when I use the crockpot, I just wrap the whole thing in a blanket, with no hot water. Okay enough rambling, thanks again!

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  21. I do it this way but also (this part is an Olympic event) put the crock-pot into my oven, and leave the light on all night. Its the best yogurt in the world.

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  22. I also add some dry milk powder to help it thicken better.

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