Friday, March 20, 2009

Small Batch Yogurt - Half Stovetop & Half Crockpot

I was introduced to homemade yogurt a few years ago at a friend's house. We were there for dinner and she had made yogurt parfaits for dessert - with yogurt she'd made herself! Wow. I was amazed and intrigued, asked for the recipe (she used the one in More for Less), and in typical Unfinished Mom mode I never did anything with it. I stuck it in my recipe file and it just sat there...

...until a few months ago when I came across this post at Crockpot365. This method of making yogurt was much more my speed. Fewer ingredients, fewer steps. Easier. We eat a lot of yogurt at our house. If there was a less expensive way to get it, I was interested.

So I tried it. Success? Not so much. Too soupy and too many lumps for my kids. I ended up tossing it down the drain. (Ugh. Frugal Flop!)

So, I searched for other yogurt making ideas. I found several. But, I needed information. I needed to understand the science behind the recipes. Why did other people have success? Why was my yogurt soupy? What could I do about it? I finally found this site. It explained what was happening with the yogurt and milk and helped me come up with my own, similar, method. So, I tried several more times. And, now -- Success!

But, I had another problem. Too much yogurt. I decided that a half gallon of yogurt was too much for my family. We weren't eating it all before I got antsy about whether it was still good or not.

So, I came up with the following method. It's makes a smaller batch and works very well for my family.

Small Batch Homemade Yogurt

1 Quart whole milk
1/4 Cup powdered milk** (see my note below)
1/4 Cup plain yogurt (full-fat) (Updated 4/3- I've now tried it with fat-free yogurt - it worked great!)

Equipment Needed:
medium sauce pan
wooden spoon
candy thermometer
medium size mixing bowl (not shown)
large thick towel (like a beach towel; also not shown)

1. Pour milk into medium pot over medium heat.

2. Stir in powdered milk; raise heat on stove to medium-high.
3. Heat milk to 190°; stirring often and checking temperature often. This will take about 10 minutes.
4. While milk is heating - 1) plug in Crockpot; set on low; 2) Fill sink about 1-2 inches with cold water; place about 3 cups of ice in a bowl.

5. When milk reaches 190°: remove pan from heat. Pour ice into sink of cold water. Then, pour heated milk into medium-size mixing bowl.***
6. Cool milk to 110°: place mixing bowl into sink of cold water, stir milk occasionally, check temperature often. This will take much less time than the heating ~4-6 minutes.
7. When milk reaches 110°, remove bowl from sink. Pour milk into Crockpot.

8. Pour yogurt into Crockpot and stir.
9. Turn off and unplug Crockpot.
10. Wrap Crockpot in large, thick towel.

11. Do not disturb for 8 hours.
12 After 8 hours, yogurt should be thickened and ready to store.
13. Store yogurt in containers in refrigerator. It will thicken a bit more in the fridge.

Yields: 2 pints plain yogurt (my apologies, I've lost this picture somehow)

To serve: eat fresh from the fridge, mix with your preferred fruit, or a few drops of vanilla. My kids prefer a tsp of splenda or sugar stirred in also.

* Amounts for ingredients can be doubled to 1/2 gallon milk, 1/2 cup powdered milk and 1/2 cup yogurt.
** Since powdered milk is rather granular I have found it helpful to run it through my food processor for several seconds for a finer texture. This makes for fewer "chunks" - which my children do not like.
*** It is not mandatory to pour the milk into a second bowl for cooling. I do this because putting a hot pot in cold water will warp the bottom and I don't wish to warp my pots.

Here's how the prices break down for 1/2 gallon:
$0.60 1/2 cup yogurt
$1.49 1/2 gallon whole milk
$0.27 1/2 cup powdered milk =
$2.36 for 1/2 gallon of yogurt = ~$0.22/6 ounces; Cheaper than any sale I've seen.

If you've never tried making yogurt - give it a try. You'll be surprised at how easy it is. I certainly was!

For more great frugal ideas, visit LifeAsMom.


Jen @ Sunshine4Teachers said...

I will have to try this as most homemade yogurt recipes don't sound very good to me or don't have good pictures. Glad to have stumbled across you while I'm still going down the UBP list :)

Kristen@TheFrugalGirl said...

Hey there-

Just so you know, unopened yogurt should keep for several weeks in your, you could make a larger batch and just keep it around. :)

I love, love, love how cheap homemade yogurt is!


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