Have you ever wanted to take advantage of a great price on marked down milk but had no idea what to do with it before it spoils? It is not really a good deal if it just sits in your fridge and goes bad, right? Well, I have a great do-it-yourself idea that is easy and will save you a bundle of cash. Try making your own yogurt! It sounds difficult but if you have a crock-pot and a candy thermometer then you are set to go. I heard about this method of yogurt making from a friend last fall. I had made my own yogurt using a yogurt maker years ago when the kids were babies, but it seemed like such a lot of work for such a small return. It required several pots and I got tired of it eventually, but this method makes more yogurt for my growing family and I have found some healthy uses for yogurt that makes it even more handy. You can substitute plain yogurt for sour cream and mayonnaise in some recipes as a healthier alternative. Are you ready to learn how? Here goes:
Take a gallon of milk – you can use whole, 2%, 1% or skim. The higher the fat content of the milk, the creamier and thicker the yogurt. Pour the whole gallon in your crock-pot and heat on low until the temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit. This should take several hours, but crock-pots vary depending on the age and size of your model. If I am going to be close by I will sometimes put mine on high and it heats up much faster, but you have to be careful not to let the milk boil. This kills off any bacteria in the milk that may interfere with the good bacteria that you are going to introduce. Sometimes a “skin” will develop on the top of your milk in the crock-pot. This is OK. Just skim it off.
Turn your crock-pot off and let the milk cool down to 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This can take up to 2 hours. When the milk has reached the desired temperature, remove a cup or so and add 1/2 cup of plain yogurt. Stir well and place the milk/yogurt mixture back in the pot. You will have to purchase the plain yogurt from the store but after you make your first homemade batch, keep some aside for making your second batch. Every couple of batches or so, you will need to add some store-bought yogurt back into the mix, otherwise the good bacteria cultures will be diluted to the point that the yogurt won’t set.
Now the easy part. Wrap the crock-pot in bath towels and let sit undisturbed overnight. (I like to use a beach towel).When you get up in the morning the yogurt is done. You will notice a liquid layer on top. This is the whey. If you mix together with the creamy stuff underneath, you have plain yogurt. Serve sweetened with honey or mix in a little jam or non calorie sweetener.
If you want to try your hand at Greek yogurt, which is higher in protein, simply place cheesecloth, a flour sack towel or some other very thin porous towel in a colander set inside a bowl. Pour the yogurt into the colander and let sit until the volume is decreased by about half of the starting volume. You can save the whey to use in recipes calling for buttermilk. I like to use it in place of water in my waffle batter.
I usually store my yogurt in old sour cream or large plastic yogurt containers in the fridge. I also like to place some of the yogurt in ice-cube trays and freeze. After they are frozen I pop out the cubes and place in small freezer bags for use in smoothies. It makes the smoothie more like a milkshake when used along with frozen fruit.
I hope this has challenged you to try something new. I am challenging myself to try to replace one item in my kitchen each month that I currently buy regularly with a homemade or reusable alternative to save some cash. Look for my upcoming monthly posts on this topic.
This post is part of a How To Blog Cruise over at the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog. Click the graphic below to read some other great posts and be inspired to do a whole lot of things!