March 26, 2011
Here it is! My first attempt at yogurt making, following the crock pot method. (Go there for the actual recipe.)
My sis-in-law wanted pictures, so I snapped a few on the way.
You start out with milk in the crock pot. The recipe called for half a gallon, but I didn't want to waste that much if it flopped, so I cut it to one quart (4 cups).
Set it to low, then let is sit for 2 and a half hours. Then unplug it and let is sit for another 3 hours.
You'll need a plain flavor yogurt starter that contains "Live/Active cultures". At the risk of squeeming you out, it means the little beasties are alive and will multiply into the rest of the milk. If you don't have active cultures in your yogurt you'll get... milk with yogurt in it. I used 1/4 C (remember I'm cutting the recipe in half.)
At the end of the 3 hours, mix the yogurt starter and about 2 cups of the warmed milk together.
I've heard that making yogurt this way usually comes out a little thin, and Ben prefers a thick yogurt, so I added a half packet of gelatin to the starter/milk mix. Add the mix back into the crock pot, stir and recover.
Then wrap your entire crock pot in a heavy towel (I actually used two... and forgot to take pictures). Listen to husband ask questions about what is living on our counter. Let it sit over night, or for 8 hours. Once I got to it, it had actually been about 11 hours.
In the morning, if all went well, you have yogurt! I have to say, I was quit amazed it actually worked. I was kind of skeptical. It's very tart, and very bland. I thawed a few strawberries, mashed them up and mixed them into about a half cup with a tiny bit of sugar for sweetener. It was quite tasty, despite the fact that I really don't like yogurt (it's a texture thing). I'll probably be using this mostly in smoothies, since Ben said the taste was good, but it's still not as thick as he likes. Maybe more gelatin if I do it again, or I'll go the "strain through cheesecloth" route with this batch.
Now for the fun part.
We buy yogurt in the little 6 oz thingies. They're easy for Ben to take to work that way, and I know buying a large container would go to waste before we ate it. He prefers store brand, which are $0.33 each ($0.06/oz).
Milk has been $2.70 a gallon (128 oz) lately = $0.02/oz
The live culture plain was $0.40 for a 6 oz = $0.07/oz
I used 32 oz of milk = $0.64 (32 x $0.02)
I used 2 oz of starter = $0.14 (2 x $0.07)
I am not counting the gelatin since I'm not sure I'll use it every time.
So, 32 oz of homemade yogurt costs me $0.81 to make (not counting electricity, but I'm not that anal), or $0.03 an oz. Half price!
Add in the fact that you can make a new batch using your previous homemade as the starter, it reduces the price even more, until about the 3rd batch where it evens out to $0.72 (give or take a bit for the price of milk) per batch from there on out.