Now that I've made about 6 batches of yogurt with this method, I feel it's ok to share my "recipe" for Slow Cooker Plain Yogurt. I put that in quotes, because it's a little too easy to call a recipe. Definitely the easiest slow cooker recipes I've ever used...and ONLY because of that I think I can sustain this.
Did you know that flavored yogurt is loaded with sugar? More grams of sugar are often found in strawberry yogurt than in strawberry ice cream. So if you want the snack without all the sugar, you'll be better off with plain flavor and adding your own fruit & honey.
This recipe makes about a gallon of yogurt. I recently priced out local milk and Nancy's yogurt at the co-op and found that we're saving about $8.50 on this every couple of weeks, so that seems worth it, right?
- Time Invested: 10 minutes
- Yield: 1 Gallon + 8oz starter for next batch
- Total Cooking/Cooling Time: 24 hours
- Uses: Smoothies, in place of sour cream, in place of buttermilk, in soup, salad dressings, and as a healthy dessert with honey & fruit, DIY Keifer (with Vitamix & fruit), mixed with granola
- Sugar: No added sugar
- 2 half gallons milk in glass container (we get local milk from Twinbrook Creamery)
- 8 oz yogurt starter (or just plain yogurt)
- slow cooker
First, Add the milk to the Slow Cooker
Set it on Low for about 4 hours. Check back periodically until it reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Don't let this get too hot, because you'll ruin the batch. Set 2 or 3 timers if you must.
Turn off the slow cooker and remove the insert from the heating element. Twist the lid sideways to let the heat escape and set in a safe place until it cools to 120 degrees F. This takes about 2 hours and I recommend setting a timer. Don't let it get below 120F, otherwise the culture won't work - it's a sad day when you lose your yogurt that way.
Next, gently pour in the yogurt starter you saved from the last batch and lightly stir to combine.
Now set the insert back in the heating element (keeping it turned off) and cover with a towel to encourage very SLOW cooling. This gives all those beneficial bacteria time to grow and thrive. Leave it completely undisturbed overnight, or for a good 8-10 hours.
Now for the fun part. The next morning, uncover your creation! Open the lid and gently stir the now thick yogurt you just made :)
From here, I like to use an immersion blender to mix everything up to an even texture. Alternatively, you could pour this into cheesecloth over a bowl and let it sit in the refrigerator for 1-2 days for thicker yogurt. The only issue with that is that you get a lot of leftover liquid called whey, and it's not very appetizing (although you can put it in smoothies). By mixing with an immersion blender, we get a full gallon of usable yogurt out of the recipe. It IS thinner than store bought yogurt, but flavor is the same.
Finally, use a funnel to pour the yogurt into glass jars.
PRO TIP: It's so frustrating to run completely out of yogurt and to have to buy some at the store to make your own. Include a small 8oz jar in your group and put it in the BACK of your refrigerator so you don't use it. This way you save just enough for the next starter.
And that's it. Now you have plenty of jars of fresh yogurt to use in all kinds of meals and recipes. Enjoy!