Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Never Fail - Slow Cooker - Overnight Oven Yogurt

About a year ago I tried making yogurt in the slow cooker and then wrapping it in towels on  the counter overnight.  After two failed attempts I gave up.  Recently, I found another recipe using the oven as the incubator so I gave it a shot.  It worked!  It is such an amazing feeling to check on what was simply warm milk the night before and find yogurt in the morning!  I have had success five times in a row with this homemade, slow cooker yogurt, so I figured it was time to share.  I can make plain or greek yogurt, skim milk or full fat and it's worked every time.  I've even had success making it without a thermometer, just by learning how long it would take to heat and cool the milk.  Making this yogurt at home is so simple and half the cost of store bought!  You can flavour it yourself (a drizzle of honey is my favourite), and avoid all the crazy amount of added sugar and additives in the store bought varieties.  Plus, making it from home has a longer fermentation process, and eating fermented foods is good for you!  (Try reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.)






I usually eat this yogurt with my Quinoa Applesauce Granola for breakfast, use it in smoothies, or make dressings  and sauces.  It's a great sour cream substitute.  My husband is slowly adjusting to it's tart taste, but the kids' palates haven't adjusted yet.  I will keep buying their favourite store bought flavours (Yami Vanilla and Yami Orange Cream) and do a gradual mixing of the two.

Thanks so much to Mindy, from Creating Naturally for posting the recipe that finally worked for me.
I've copied her recipe onto here, because she did such a great job making it so simple!

P.S.  If you want to make greek yogurt, simply strain it with a cheesecloth (or paper towel) lined colander.  Strain it over a bowl and save the whey to use as a liquid substitute in bread, other baking, or in your smoothies.  More whey uses here!

Homemade Slow Cooker Yogurt
Yield: 1 gallon of yogurt
Check out the notes at the bottom of the recipe for extra tips and tricks.
Ingredients
  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (full fat)
Instructions
  1. Pour the gallon of milk in a 6 qt. slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker on low.
  2. Allow the milk to heat up to 180 degrees F. In my slow cooker this takes about 5 hrs. Every slow cooker is different though, so use a candy thermometer to check the temperature of your milk until it hits 180.
  3. Turn the slow cooker off and allow the milk to cool to 110 degrees F. Again, use a candy thermometer to determine when it has hit the correct temperature.  (Lynn's Note:  If you are in a hurry, take out your slow cooker insert and cool it in a sink filled with ice water.  Stir gently, occasionally.)
  4. Once the milk has cooled off to 110 degrees, preheat your oven to 200 degrees F. Remove some of the warm milk into a small glass bowl. Gently whisk the 1/2 cup plain yogurt into the warm milk in the small bowl until there are no lumps left. Gently whisk the yogurt/milk mixture back into the rest of the warm milk.
  5. Pour the warm yogurt/milk into sterilized glass jars. (Lynn's Note:  I  just place the entire crock pot insert in the oven and then store it into containers later.) A funnel helps with this. Put lids on the jars and place them in the oven. Turn the oven off and allow the jars to sit in there for 8-12 hours (or overnight). This is the incubation phase when the yogurt cultures the rest of the milk and turns all of it into yogurt. If your oven has a light in it, leave it on while the jars are in there. This will help to keep the oven the right temperature.
  6. After the jars have set in the oven for 8-12 hours, remove them and place them in the refrigerator to chill completely before using.

Notes:

  • If a whole gallon of yogurt seems like a lot to you, you can cut the recipe in half.  This will affect the heating and cooling times, but the yogurt will still need to incubate for 8-12 hours no matter how much you make.
  • I definitely recommend using whole milk for this recipe.  It makes the yogurt very thick and creamy.  I usually use raw milk, because that’s what we have on hand.  Any whole milk will work great though.
  • If the milk goes a little past 180 degrees F when you are heating it, that is fine.  However, it must get to at least 180 degrees F.
  • You can speed the cooling process along by cracking the lid on the slow cooker and/or by removing the ceramic part of the slow cooker from the part that generates the heat.  I usually don’t do this, but if you’re wanting it to be done faster it won’t hurt anything to speed it along.
  • Don’t worry if your oven doesn’t have a light in it.  Mine does not, and it still always turns out great.
  • If for some reason your oven is not available, there are other options for incubating your yogurt.  You can put the jars in a closed and sealed cooler with a pot of boiling/very hot water.  Or if you have a dehydrator with removable trays you can set the jars in the dehydrator with it set on about 115 degrees F.  No matter what you choose incubate your yogurt in, it needs to stay in the warm environment for 8-12 hours.
  • If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can still make this.  Just heat the milk up to 180 degrees F in a pan on the stove instead of in the slow cooker.  Then proceed as directed above.
  • I do not add any sweetener or flavor to my yogurt when I am making it.  If you want to sweeten it and/or flavor it, add honey, maple syrup, or jam (to taste) to the milk/yogurt mixture before putting it in the jars.  You could also add any extracts that you would like to use.
  • The reason I don’t sweeten my yogurt is because we use it in baking and eating as a buttermilk and sour cream substitute.  We also enjoy eating it plain with applesauce or frozen blueberries.  It also makes an almost daily appearance in our smoothies, which are sweetened by the fruit that we put in them.
  • This yogurt will last for several weeks in the refrigerator.
  • Make sure you save 1/2 cup of your homemade yogurt to make your next batch!


2 comments:

  1. This recipe looks full proof, and I'm trying it tonight. I have two questions: do you cover the jars with towels or anything when you put them in the oven, and should you bring the yogurt culture to room temperature before gently whisking it into the warm milk. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. It would be a good idea to bring the yogurt to room temp before mixing it in. Thanks for that observation! Also, I never put my yogurt in jars in the over, I just put the whole crock pot (I have a removable insert) in there and put it into jars the next morning. Have fun!

    ReplyDelete