Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Simple Yogurt

I've been making all of our yogurt for the last several months, with great success. I calculate that I'm saving at least  $700 a year, which is a little alarming. We were eating three single-serving cups of Fage yogurt a day. Lots of money, and lots of plastic trash (my grocery store only offers non-fat Fage in the bigger container. If I want fat, I have to buy the small).

So here's my super-simple method. I use an enameled cast-iron pot (it's an off-brand Le Creuset) and pour an entire gallon of organic whole milk in it. I put it over a medium heat and set the timer for 25 minutes. Meanwhile I get out my previous batch of yogurt and remove a heaping spoonful of it, and place it in a glass measuring cup with a spout, and leave it out on the counter.

When the milk has started to steam (be sure and jiggle the pot and get down at eye level to see if it makes a little steam), I turn off the flame and set the timer for another 25 minutes.  When the timer buzzes, I stick my clean finger in the milk. If it's too hot for comfort, I give it another ten minutes of cooling time. If, however, I can leave my finger in for three seconds, I move to the next step.

Which is to ladle out a cup of hot milk and put it in the glass measuring cup with my spoonful of yogurt. I stir this gently with a spoon, just breaking the yogurt up into small pieces, then pour all that back into the big pot and swirl it around a little.

Then the lid goes on the pot, the pot gets set in my Crock-Pot over an inch of water set to the "Keep Warm" setting, and an old bath towel goes over the whole thing. I leave it all day (or all night). Ten to twelve hours.

At the end of that time, I put my big colander in my stockpot, and line the colander with a large thin dishtowel. I dump all the yogurt in, and refrigerate it. In another ten to twelve hours, I have a large quantity of unbelievably delicious Greek yogurt. Very firm, tart, and thrifty. 


Rose said...

Interesting for the overnight culturing. My crock pot doesn't have a "Keep Warm" feature, it has High, Low or Auto. But, the rice cooker does have one of those. Thank you Anna, this would be a much easier solution than my current one, I'll definitely try it out.

Lisa said...

I've been getting into making yogurt, and have tried a few methods lately, your method from a few years ago being my favorite. But it's the hovering over the pot that I wish I could avoid; I haven't done it enough to have a feel for how it takes to heat, then to cool. I'll try this, definitely! My crock pot doesn't have that setting either, but your previous method works well for incubation.

Anna - you Do Not Need to pre-mix your yogurt with the milk! Many years ago, I had read that you can just add it without mixing, but that was years ago when I wasn't making yogurt. When I recently wanted to start, I couldn't find anyone online who advocated this. Then, I bought a Craftsy class with Alana Chernila. In her book, The Homemade Pantry, she does what you're doing. But in the class (which may be newer?) she just plops some in the heated/cooled milk, and just the presence of it inoculates the whole shebang. (her favorite method is making it in the crockpot) I did it that way last time I made yogurt. She said she finds it's less lumpy when she doesn't stir. If you try this method and it doesn't work, I'll send you the five bucks for the milk. :D

I have to ask, though -
1. You don't seem to use much yogurt! So far, I've read that a half cup for a half gallon of milk is the recommended amount. Maybe I should try using less. Did you come to this low amount with trial and error?
2. Do you not stir your milk while it's heating?
3. Is your organic milk from the supermarket? I'm curious because the organic milks at our store are all ultra-pasteurized; the only one which is plain old "pasteurized" is a local milk from farms in our state, but it doesn't say it's organic. That's the one I use. I've made yogurt from that local milk, Lactaid, ultra-pasteurized and raw milk, and the local one comes out best. (I had to use a different method for the raw).
A long comment, but one of interest to me. :)
If you try

Anna said...

Lisa, why not hover over the pot once and for all but with a stopwatch--and make a note of how long it takes to heat and to cool appropriately. The next time you can just set your timer accordingly.

I do use a very small amount of yogurt. It works perfectly, and allows me to eat that other half-cup :)

I don't stir, but I'm using medium heat and a very heavy pot.

My milk is the organic that Kroger sells. It's about $6.50 a gallon and I love the yogurt it makes.

Thanks for the input!

Sarah said...

We eat Greek yogurt in mass quantities; I'll definitely try this method out--I'm certain it'll save me a fortune!

Lisa said...

Okay - $6.50 - I'll send you six fifty if it doesn't work. :D

You're so practical - I'll have to do the hovering one more time. :)

Farrah said...

I need to do this with raw milk.

Julie said...

I used to do this all the time. Thanks for the reminder!

Margo said...

I've been making yogurt for years, but I'm fascinated that you don't really stir the yogurt starter into the warm milk AND that you are using such a small amount. But my yogurt cultures in 2-3 hours. I very rarely strain it to get the Greek texture. Do you use the whey? It's great for baking (use like buttermilk) and some people even drink it straight - it's the healthiest part of the yogurt, I've read.

carol said...

no question is a dumb question, right? so here goes....do you set the pot on top of the crock pot or does your pot fit inside??

Anna said...

It's a good question! The enamel pot fits about halfway down into the Crock-Pot. Its handles hold it in place and keep it from going any further down. So it's kind of dangling over the (barely) warm water. But with that heavy lid, and a towel, the whole thing stays warm enough.

Lucille said...

We eat lots of Yeo Valley Greek style yogurt. It's organic and still a family concern but there's no doubt it's an expensive habit. I used to make yogurt in a dinky little machine with six glass pots. The recipe called for tins of Carnation evaporated milk. It was yummy. I might have a go at your method but don't own a crockpot so will have to improvise.

Julie said...

It can also be left in a warmed-then-turned-off oven with the oven light on. Perfect results every time.

Related Posts with Thumbnails