Wednesday food post (Yogurt)

Okay, so I was going to do a week in food, but I got sick and lost all my energy. We also got treated to dinner a few times, plus ate too big and too late a lunch on one of the days (resulting in eating potato wedges with ketchup for dinner at 9pm), and the menu plan just generally went out the window. But, I like to be flexible. So, I’ll talk a little about one of my newest endeavors- yogurt.

I’m totally new to this, but it’s so easy and so good I don’t see ever buying yogurt again. There are a variety of ways to make yogurt. I’ve seen recipes that involve candy thermometers, gelatin, powdered milk, double boilers, etc. These recipes definitely intimidated me, and I don’t like all the extra ingredients and fuss. Then there’s the yogurt maker (where you just add starter and milk), but I don’t have one… and I didn’t see myself buying one soon either. Now that I make most of my own food in a kitchen with very limited room, an appliance that only makes one thing just kind of takes up space, in my opinion. Although, I can’t get rid of my ice cream maker (that appliance is just too important!). Anyway, then I saw this recipe for making yogurt in your crock pot. I tried it, and totally succeeded! So far it’s been totally easy and delicious. The texture of the yogurt is a little thinner, but not by much. We eat it almost daily, and have found I can do this once a week for a steady supply of yogurt for all of us. Here’s the recipe for those who don’t want to follow the link (just copied straight from Nourishing Days):

Crock Pot Yogurt
Recipe notes: This recipe uses a 2 quart crock. In using a 4 or 4 1/2 quart crock I found the yogurt to have a bit of a "springy" texture. I was able to alleviate this by heating the milk an additional 15 minutes for a total of 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Turn your crock pot to low and pour in 1/2 gallon of milk.
Heat on low for 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Once 2 hours and 30 minutes have elapsed turn your crock pot off and unplug it. Let the milk cool in the crock with the lid on for 3 hours.
After 3 hours remove 1-2 cups of the warmed milk and place in a bowl. To that add 1/2 cup of yogurt with live active cultures and mix very well.
Pour the yogurt-milk mixture back into the milk and whisk thoroughly.
Place the cover back on the crock and wrap the entire crock pot in a thick bath towel or two.
Let it culture overnight, 8-12 hours.
In the morning stir yogurt (if desired) and store in glass quart jars or a container of your choice.
For optimum texture, refrigerate for at least 8 hours before using.

Here’s my most recent batch (which firmed up even more in the fridge):

 

Voila! Fresh, homemade, living yogurt that barely took any work at all. It occurs to me that so many of the things that I’ve resolved to do myself don’t take nearly the energy that I thought they did at the beginning. They take a little more planning and preparation, but I’ve found that any extra work involved is pretty balanced by my now incredibly short and easy grocery trips. Plus, it’s so gratifying. Each time I take on something new I’m rewarded and feel that much more connected to my food. 

I use this yogurt for all sorts of things. We add it to oatmeal, we eat it plain or with applesauce or fruit. We use it as a topping for savory dishes like potatoes or any soup. I love it on pancakes. We blend it up with maple syrup and some fruit frozen from the summer for smoothies. We can make it into a savory veggie dip, or add honey to it to make a sweet dip for fruit. The possibilities!

*Side note- I did mess up one batch recently. I think it’s because I only wrapped the crock in one thin towel, so I think it really needs the extra insulation overnight. It was pretty thin in the morning. The next batch I tried I put this big wool sweater over the whole thing and wrapped it in a bath towel, and it was perfect the next morning. 

*Also- my sister tried this with 2% milk once, and found that it was… gross. The texture was, as she says "mucousy", rather than "yogurty". I only use whole milk for everything, and it’s my belief that we should not be afraid of fat in natural high-quality food- especially not if it comes naturally in the food (like whole milk, butter, etc.- NOT trans-fats, hydrogenated oils, etc- these are really bad). My friend actually said that she saw some fat-free half & half in someone’s fridge… this is insanity. Cream is NOT fat-free, and it shouldn’t be. EAT YOUR FAT. It will be fine. And it will not make you fat. Whole, raw milk is a kind of perfect food (for those who can tolerate it), and you shouldn’t go messing with a good thing. If you can’t get raw, then go with the next best thing- but I really recommend keeping it full-fat!

Gracie
Gracie

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Comments (14)

  1. pagangoat

    I might have to try this, it sounds so easy! Thanks:)

    Reply
  2. honeyrider

    this sounds awesome, except i don’t quit get this step — To that add 1/2 cup of yogurt with live active cultures and mix very well. — so, at least the first time around, i need to add store bought yogurt the one i’m making?

    where do you get your milk? the only whole, raw milk source i found is…whole foods. :[ at $5.99 for half a gallon. i’ll have to look into this…

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Yeah, you add store bought yogurt the first time- unless you know someone with a starter.

      I bought into a cooperative of family farmers- it’s not exactly legal for them to sell me raw milk, but they get around that step by selling me an annual share of a cow. So it’s not illegal for me to get milk from my own cow, I guess! I get a gallon a week for $7. I actually tend to use my raw milk for other stuff, and will usually make yogurt from a half gallon of good quality pasteurized milk. I figure I’m replenishing the lost bacteria. Although I don’t use pasteurized milk for anything else really.

      I checked your page and saw you were in NYC. I found this source for you- check them out:
      http://www.uddermilk.com/shop.php#35

      Looks like they are a little more expensive than my source, but they deliver! They also have loads of stuff to order.

      Reply
  3. ladyfaith3

    I tried with yougurt but not this method I am going to try it! I will hopefully get pictures and post about it. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Yes, please post about it!

      Reply
  4. poppleshatesyou

    I’m definitely going to try this! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!! 😀

    Reply
  5. pagangoat

    I was wondering if it’s ok to double the recipe? Or does it not work as well if you do that? I don’t want to waste a whole gallon of organic milk, plus the organic yogurt starter. Have you tried it? I’m going to start a batch today, and just thought I’d ask…but if you don’t see this in time, I guess I’ll go for it and see what happens:)

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      You know, I’m not sure. I would totally give it a try if you have a big enough crock pot- mine can only handle a half gallon, so I’d have to make two batches. Hmmm… definitely let me know how it works- I’ll post about your findings!

      Reply
      1. pagangoat

        I chickened out…I don’t have a thermometer, and I wasn’t sure of how long to heat/cool it. So I opted to do two batches, which is fine. My MIL wanted to try making it creamier, so we substituted organic whipping cream in place of some of the milk. I was reading different crock pot recipes online, trying to figure out how to make it thicker, and apparently powdered milk works well(without adding gelatin, etc.) but I didn’t have any organic powdered milk on hand. I’ll have to check out a health food store next time I’m near one.(we don’t have one in our little town, unfortunately)

        Reply
        1. Gracie (Post author)

          Aw! We’ll I’d love to hear your results when you figure it out. How’d the cream work?

          I’ve read about the powdered milk trick, but I’ve also heard that powdered milk is bad stuff. Here’s a quote from that real milk site that I link to:

          “Powdered skim milk is added to the most popular varieties of commercial milk— one-percent and two-percent milk. Commercial dehydration methods oxidize cholesterol in powdered milk, rendering it harmful to the arteries. High temperature drying also creates large quantities of nitrate compounds, which are potent carcinogens.”

          Crazy, huh? Processing does so much bad to what would be good food. Let me know what you come up with, though, even if you decide to use the powdered milk.

          For what it’s worth, my yogurt seems to be thicker the more I make and the better I wrap my crock in towels… I’m totally happy with the thickness now! 🙂

          Reply
  6. pagangoat

    Also, would I have to double the heating/cooling times?

    Reply
  7. pagangoat

    ok, another yogurt question! I put on my 5th batch of yogurt yesterday, and when I got up this morning to put it in the fridge, it had failed:( Still totally liquid milk, not just thin yogurt. The only thing that I did differently was using just my homemade yogurt as a starter. The batch before, I’d used about half store bought, half homemade, and it was good, though a little thinner than the first 3. Anyways, I was pretty disappointed, but I was wondering if you’d ever had this problem, and if so, what did you do with the failed milk? I was going to cook with it, but what can you do with 8 cups of odd tasting milk? So far, I made french toast with a little…I just really don’t want to waste it! Any ideas?

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      That actually happened to me really recently! I was kind of at a loss, but I just decided to heat up my crock on low for about an hour, then turn it off and let it sit for a few more hours. It actually worked to thicken it up. I think the problem was that I added the starter an hour and a half too late the night before (woops!) and I only covered it with one bath towel (I’ve had great luck with a thick wool sweater, actually, so I should have just used that…). Anyway. I just experimented and it worked. The batch was a little more tart than usual, but very good. Also, I think the more I use my homemade yogurt as starter, the better it gets. Maybe it’s a lot like sourdough, you have to kind of wake up the culture and get it really active so that it does its job well. So fun to experiment!

      Let me know how it turns out.

      Also, if it doesn’t work, you can make great tapioca pudding with 8 cups of soured milk. Or rice pudding. Mmmm. 🙂

      Reply
      1. pagangoat

        I thought of tapioca, but I wasn’t sure if it would taste ok.Maybe I’ll try it…thanks for you help!

        Reply

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