I have to tell you, I hadn’t given any thought to making yogurt at home. There are supermarkets on every corner, and did I really need yet another project?
It appears that the answer was yes.
We go through a lot of yogurt. The Tiny Kitchen Assistant eats it with fruit and honey. The adults use large amounts for smoothies. And when I want to make a creamy pasta sauce, I add a little bit of yogurt instead of cream or milk to get around my lactose intolerance issues.
Here’s the big yogurt-making secret: it’s so easy, a 5-year-old boy with a crock pot can do it.
There are three stages.
- Heat the milk until a skin forms
- Cool the milk
- Ferment the yogurt for a minimum of four hours, preferably overnight
- 1/2 gallon whole milk (you can use lowfat milk, too, but the Internet reports better results with whole milk)
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt, unopened
Dump the half gallon of milk into a clean crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours. You’ll notice that the milk has developed a skin.
Turn the crock pot off. Allow to sit, covered, for two hours. Check the temperature; you’re aiming for about 50 degrees C or 122 degrees F.
In a separate bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup plain yogurt with two cups of the hot milk. Return to the crock pot and whisk to mix evenly. Cover and wrap with heavy towels to insulate the pot. Ignore for 8 hours or overnight.
In the morning, unwrap your crock pot cocoon. Dip in a spoon. Look at that! It has the texture and flavor of yogurt! If you want a thicker yogurt, strain through cheesecloth and a mesh strainer to create a more Greek-like texture.
Dispense into mason jars or other sealable containers. Set aside 1/2 cup for use as your starter for your next batch. Refrigerate all.
The yogurt stays fresh for up to to two weeks. Serve with fruit, honey, granola or your favorite mix-ins.
“It looks like yogurt. I mean, it really looks like yogurt!” said the Tiny Kitchen Assistant. “That’s so weird!” Isn’t it, though?
I can also personally vouch for the fact that homemade yogurt is just as friendly to lactose-intolerant bellies as its store-bought counterpart.
Since this is basically a single-ingredient project, the cost is easy to calculate. A half gallon of organic milk at Trader Joe’s costs $3.29. A half gallon = 64 ounces. Standard yogurt cup servings are now 6 ounces, so each batch of yogurt yields roughly 10 servings.
First batch: $3.29 milk + $0.99 for starter yogurt = $4.28. Divide that by 10 servings and it works out to $0.43 per serving.
Subsequent batches (reusing yogurt from previous batches as starter): $3.29 divided by 10 servings = $0.33 per serving.
All organic, and no unpronounceable ingredients!