Sunday, December 7, 2008

Yo! Yogurt

Yogurt has been all over blogs lately. For good reason- yogurt in the store is mucho expensive. For glorified spoiled milk. I love yogurt, but I am not a store-brand-fruit-in-the-bottom kinda girl. I like the strained Greek-Style yogurt. The almost two bucks a serving kind. I have been making my own on and off for a while- but I have “standardized” my process lately.

This is really easy. Besides milk and yogurt, you need an instant read thermometer, small (3-4 quart) crock-pot, whisk, heavy bath towel and about 8 hours- about 1 hour attended. If you strain your yogurt, coffee filters, a strainer, and a bowl for under the strainer (do that part after the yogurt is done)

Disclaimer before you begin: this recipe requires microwaving the crockery insert for your slow cooker. I cannot find any information telling me not to do this. HOWEVER, anytime you heat liquid in the microwave, there is a risk involved. Liquid can boil over, crockery can crack, and you can trip over your three-year-olds board books that she left in the middle of the floor. If you do it, you assume the risk.

Milk: any kind- it doesn’t even need to come from a cow
Yogurt, plain, with “live, active” cultures: dido on the cow

Pour the Milk into the crockery insert for your slow cooker. Don’t put more in than you want to take out of the microwave, hot.

Microwave. Start with about 8-10 minutes on high, and check with your thermometer to see where your temperature is after that. You want to bring your milk up to at least 180* F, and you can bring it all the way up to 212*F. I treat it as a range. When your milk has come up to at least 180*, let it cool- you can do this in the microwave with the door open if the whole hot liquid thing concerns you.

When the temperature gets down to between 110*F and 120* F, stir in your yogurt with a whisk. You want about 2 heaping tablespoons of yogurt per quart of milk.

Before you put the milk-filled crockery in your slow cooker, put the base on top of a heavy bath towel. Plug the base into the wall, and turn the dial to “Low”. Put the insert into the base, with the lid on, and wrap the whole works up.

Set your timer for 5 minutes. When the five minutes are up, unplug the slow cooker, but leave it wrapped up.

Ignore it for 8-10 hours. Do not peek. The idea is to keep your milk at about 100*F.

If you want to strain it- pour your yogurt into a coffee filter-lined strainer set inside a bowl, and refrigerate until it is as thick as you would like. The liquid that is strained off is called whey, and I use it in place of buttermilk in my baking recipes. Sometimes I feed it to my chickens if I have too much for baking.

This yogurt is much less sour than store bought plain yogurt.


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