Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Making Yogurt – in the Crock Pot!

I made yogurt in the crock pot the other day.

“You made yogurt? In the crock pot?” You may ask. Why, yes, I did.

We recently started giving Max yogurt to increase the protein and fat in his diet. I couldn’t find a yogurt that was up to my standards – fatty, not too bitter, no sugar, preferably no pectin/cornstarch/gelatin. So, I made some.

I tried making yogurt a few years ago, but had no luck because I couldn’t keep the temperature warm enough for the culture to grow - around 80 to 90 degrees for at least 4 hours. Crock pot to the rescue! Using this recipe as a guideline, I went to work.

Yogurt in the Crock Pot

6 cups 1% milk (what we had on hand)
2 cups light cream
2 cups half & half
1 cup plain, full-fat yogurt (I used Dannon)

Put the milk, cream and half & half in the crock pot. Cook on low for 2 ½ hours. Turn off the crock pot and let sit for 3 hours. Take out 2 cups of the warm liquid, put it in a separate bowl and whisk in the cup of plain yogurt. Pour that back into the crock pot, wrap the crock pot in a thick towel, and let it sit for eight hours or overnight. When you wake up, you get this:

I put some straight into containers in the fridge. The rest I put in a towel and strainer in the sink to let some of the liquid drain out, though it was already pretty thick. (Note: When I do this again, I’ll use a white towel. Some of the towel’s color leached into my yogurt, making it a pretty shade of pale blue. That part did not go to Max’s portion.)

When it had drained for a couple of hours, it was the consistency of softened cream cheese. After being refrigerated, it was the same consistency as cream cheese, and actually tasted a lot like it too. If I’d had a bagel I would have slapped some on there. Instead I ate it with a spoon and a smile…

I took the majority of the drained yogurt and froze it in ice cube trays for future use.

If you don’t know how yogurt works – it’s actually a type of cultured or fermented milk. There’s a certain type of beneficial bacteria that thickens the milk and creates the yogurt. That’s why you need the plain yogurt to use as a starter, and why you need to keep the warm temperature so that the bacteria can grow and thicken the milk. When you refrigerate it, the bacteria stop growing.

Keep in mind that I made this with a goal in mind – making it as fatty as possible. If you’re doing this for yourself you might want to stick closer to the original recipe. Or keep with my version, because it was so rich, and sooooo goooooood… You could taste the cream… Ungh, drool…

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