I love homemade yogurt. I eat a lot of it. My milk preference is organic 1% or 2%. I have used whole milk and homogenized. As long as the milk is not UHT (ultra-high pasteurized) you should be able to use what you have easy access to.
Pasteurization was introduced In order to make milk safer for the masses. Pasteurization means the milk has been heated to 165 F for 10-20 seconds to kill bad pathogens.
Ultra-High pasteurization (Ultra-High Temperature) means the milk has been heated to 280 F for at least 1 second. UHT makes milk shelf stable for longer periods of time. Pasteurization also kills off beneficial bacteria, a lot of nutrients, and makes the milk harder to digest.
Read the labels on your milk closely. Milk in cardboard containers is often UHT, even if it is labeled organic. I have not used raw milk yet, as I cannot bring myself to spend $14 on a gallon of milk at my local Sprouts Market.
My favorite starter is Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt in vanilla flavor. I like the final product it makes, not too sour. You can use any plain live culture yogurt as a starter. You can use some of your own yogurt up to three times to start your next batch. Experiment to find your favorite taste.
- Crock-pot – at least 6 qt
- Thermometer – basic digital or infrared
- Measuring cup
- 1 gallon of milk (not ultra-high pasteurized)
- 1 cup or 1 8 oz container of plain yogurt with active cultures as a starter.
- Pour the gallon of milk into the crock-pot and cook on high for approximately 3-4 hours. You want the milk to reach a temperature of 185 F.
- Once the milk reaches 185 F, turn off the crock-pot and leave to cool for at least 1 ½-2 hours. Depending on the weather and kitchen temps, cooling can take several hours. You want the milk to be between 110-115 F. If the milk is too hot it will kill off the healthy bacteria in the starter yogurt and the recipe will fail. Removing the ceramic crock-pot liner and/or placing in an ice bath, speeds up cooling.
- Turn your oven light on to warm the oven when the milk gets close to temperature.
- Once the milk has reached 110-115 F, take a cup of the warm milk and mix your starter yogurt into it to thin it out and get lumps out. Pour this mixture into the crock-pot, stir gently to combine.
- Put the lid back on your crock-pot and wrap it in a towel.
- Place wrapped crock-pot into the oven, leaving the light on. Leave for a minimum of 4 hours. Most recipes say to leave it for 8-12 hours. You can leave it overnight if you want to.
- The batch in the pictures was left for 4 hours. I make Greek yogurt, which entails straining the yogurt after it comes out of the crock-pot. Greek yogurt has higher protein content and is thicker.
- You can store the yogurt as is, or strain it for a few hours.
To strain, line a colander with cheese cloth, a fine mesh strainer, or linen tea towel. Place the colander over a largish bowl as you will get quite a bit of whey liquid. (Acid loving plants really appreciate the whey. I use my whey on blueberries and tomato plants).
Yield is usually a little above 4 ½ quarts.
This yogurt keeps for a couple of weeks. Add your fruit, nuts, and favorite flavorings as you store the yogurt, or add them just before you eat it.