Miracle of Miracles: I Made Yogurt In My Crockpot

Strike this one up as one of the weirdest kitchen experiments I have ever done. I made yogurt in my crockpot. It was fast, easy and no one got sick and died, though I worried long and hard about eating milk full of alleged ‘good’ bacteria that had not been in the fridge for like 14 hours.

If you’ve got time for some intensive internet research, you will find many different methods and recipes for yogurt-making, gadgets and vessels for incubating, and a lot of strong opinions about which way is best.

Honestly, I’ve just tried this one way. It worked and it tasted good, so why mess with it? (Okay, let’s be honest, I’ll try EVERYTHING. I cannot be satisfied with only kinda knowing how to do something.)

What I like about this method (again, having not tried any other way of making yogurt) is that I spent literally 10 minutes  fussing over it and the crockpot did the rest.

One half gallon milk? Check! One small carton of plain yogurt with active cultures? Check! Crockpot? Check!

First batch! As you can see, a spoon stood straight up in it.

I made the first batch last weekend. It turned out fine, but had a lot of whey that had separated out. Which is fine. I schlopped it into a strainer lined with a flour sack kitchen towel and drained off a bunch of the whey. Perhaps a little too much because my original half gallon was now only about 4 cups. The final product was somewhere between Greek yogurt and cream cheese. Tangy and creamy. I wanted to spread it on a bagel. Except I didn’t have any bagels, so I mixed in some pureed frozen strawberries and apple juice concentrate. It was tasty.

I made a second batch last night. Someone recommended I try Fage yogurt as a starter, so I did. Huge difference. Almost no separated whey, although I did drain it through a towel for a few hours so it wasn’t quite so schleppy. The flavor was not nearly as tangy as the first batch, as in, my kid ate it without complaint – the picky one, not the one who eats toilet paper. I got a full 6 cups out of a half gallon of milk.

I think I’ll keep making yogurt this way. The only drawback is the waiting. The crockpot does all the work, but there is 2 1/2 hours for cooking the milk, then 3 hours letting the milk cool before adding in the starter cultures, then a full 8 hours of plain old incubation in optimum conditions for bacterial growth. If I don’t start at 8 AM or 4 PM on a Saturday or Sunday, it’s not happening.

The funny thing is, I’ve got enough in the fridge to last me all week but I really, really, really want to make some more. It’s loads of fun to get to the end of all that waiting, unwrap the crockpot and open it up to find that the experiment worked. It’s a feeling akin to  Christmas.

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