Saturday, January 15, 2011
It Worked! Homemade Greek Yogurt
I love Oikos Organic Plain Greek Yogurt. But the cost is prohibitive. At $4.99 for 16 oz., I just can't afford it for as much as I'd like to eat it. Plain yogurt is one of the only things I can eat on that crazy diet once I start it again. So, I attempted to make it myself.
I have made homemade yogurt in the past on the stove. But, after the last time several months ago I gave up. The first couple times I made it, it was okay, but a little softer and runnier than I like. We ended up mixing it with orange juice for "yogurt orange drink". The kids loved it, but I wanted a thicker yogurt. And the very last time I tried to make yogurt, it didn't turn out at all. I think that I didn't let the milk cool down enough before I added the yogurt starter. I used a candy thermometer, but must have gotten impatient and read it wrong! It never set at all. Looked like milk. That was the end of my yogurt making until now.
This time I tried making it in a crockpot. I got directions off the internet--probably eHow.com-- several months ago (after the last yogurt fiasco). Just in case it didn't turn out, I used non-organic milk. I didn't want to waste a $6 gallon of organic milk if it didn't work. But, it worked and next time I'll use organic.
It's very simple to do in a crockpot. All you have to do is warm up 1/2 gallon of milk on low for 2 1/2 hours. I used a gallon, but it really makes too much. After 2 1/2 hours on low, turn the crockpot off and let it sit for 3 hours. When that 3 hours is up, take 1 cup of milk out of the crockpot and mix 1/2 cup of yogurt into the cup of milk. This will be the "starter". Pour the yogurt/milk mixture back into the crockpot and stir. Put the lid back on. Cover the crockpot with a heavy towel (I used 2) and let it sit 8 hours or overnight.
At this point, the yogurt will be set, but it will probably still be a little runny. Strain it to make it thicker and more like Greek yogurt. I put all of the yogurt into Ball canning jars which I sterilized with boiling water, except the batch that I was going to strain for Greek yogurt. To make the Greek yogurt, I used a coffee filter rubberbanded onto the opening of a cup or bowl. Put as much yogurt as you can fit into the filter, cover it and put it in the fridge. It will take several hours for the excess liquid to drain out. Leave it overnight to get as much out as possible. Make sure to put paper towels under the cup/bowl because the coffee filters absorb the liquid and tend to drip. I only plan on straining as I go, instead of straining it all at once and putting it in containers. I imagine I'll have two bowls straining at any given time in my fridge! And countless jars of yogurt. Remember to save 1/2 cup of yogurt to use as a starter for your next batch. The yogurt will stay good in the refrigerator for 7 - 10 days.