Homemade Yogurt

I have some serious rants about yogurt. Things that really just get my goat every time I buy it. We like it for breakfast, I use it in cooking and some baking but is it just me or is it outrageously expensive? I could easily spend $30+ a week on yogurt. I want to say that I do this without batting an eye but that’s just not true. There is a lot of eye-batting at the dairy counter. Plenty of blink-blinking going on! Making yogurt this way costs me $7 for 7-10 days worth! Another thing that causes excessive blinking is the ‘nutritional value’. When was the last time you looked at the nutritional information on your favourite yogurt? I’m usually pretty shocked by the amount of sugar and fat in one of those itty bitty containers. Itty. Bitty.

Which leads me straight into complaint #3 – Is there anybody out there that thinks a 2oz container of yogurt is satisfying? Aside from a 3 year old, that is. I’ve noticed over the years that the sugar content is going up but the servings are getting smaller. Ridiculous! Complaint #4 stems from the part of me that likes to know where my food comes from. I don’t know where the milk came from, what kind of process it went through, how long it sat before being fermented etc. So yeah, then there’s that. But we all know I like the easy things in life. Anything to make life a little more convenient, a little bit more tolerant of my laziness, I’m in. And we certainly know I love my slow cooker. Homemade yogurt has got to be one of the easiest kitchen experiences – EVER. I started off by making this on the stovetop. It’s a great method for small batches but is a smidge more high maintenance in that you really have to monitor the temperature. Make this once and you’ll never have to buy yogurt again. With this recipe you can control where you buy your milk and what you put in the yogurt in the way of flavor; as much or as little sugar as you want, fresh berries, honey – you choose! It’s perfect in every way – you can probably tell I’m passionate about my yogurt.

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INGREDIENTS
2L Whole Milk – Organic (I use Avalon)
1/2 cup Plain Yogurt – with Active cultures **SEE NOTES

METHOD
– Pour milk into 6 quart (or bigger) slow cooker. Turn to low and heat for two hours or until 180°F. Watch it for the first batch so you get an idea what your slow cooker does with it.
– Once it has reached the ideal temperature (or after 3 hours) turn the slow cooker off and let cool for 2 hours or until it reaches 130°F.
– Stir in the half cup of active yogurt and wrap in a blanket or a couple thick towels. Let sit over night or for 8-12 hours. Remove from slow cooker to large sealable container and refrigerate. It will thicken as it cools.
– Reserve 1/2 cup of yogurt from every new batch of yogurt to use as your active cultures for the next batch! You’ll never have to buy it again!

NOTES
– I use Activia but the container will tell you if it has active cultures (probiotics)
– Your yogurt should last 7-10 days in the fridge. If you see pretty colors, it has started the molding process. (As a science experiement, the colors you get on your yogurt depend on the type of milk, and the overall temperatures you used to make it)

– My slow cooker is ancient and never reached 180°F. I went with it anyways and it turned out perfect so don’t stress if you can’t quite reach that temperature. The second time I made it I put it on high for 2 hours and it reached the appropriate temp. I have also scalded the milk and had yogurt turn out good, though I don’t recommend it. It has more of a sour cream consistency and flavor that way but I used it anyways because I don’t eat it plain.
– Word on the street is you can freeze your yogurt without harming the active cultures so if you want, you can freeze your 1/2 cup starter but I would make sure it’s room or at least fridge temperature before throwing it in the crockpot.
– If you want a thicker or greek-ier yogurt, strain your yogurt through cheesecloth for a few hours. You can be resourceful and set aside the strained milk and use it for baking.
– If you want to make this on the stove, heat 1L milk in a saucepan until 180°F. Turn element off and let cool to 130°F. Stir in 1 tbsp active yogurt. Pour milk into a thermal container like a small cooler or a thermos. Wrap in a towel and put in the oven with the oven light on (keeps it warm but not hot). Leave over night then refrigerate.

NUTRITIONAL INFO
Serves 8
Weight Watchers points per serving – 1 point per 1/2 cup
Calories – 103.7
Fat – 0g
Fibre – 0g
Sodium – 69.1mg
Carbohydrates – 7.8g
Protein – 5.6g

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