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Adventures in Yogurt-Making

A couple of weeks ago I shared a recipe for making yogurt in a crockpot with readers of my weekly Lean & Fit e-mail newsletter (Want to sign up? Start here.) with the promise that I'd try it myself and share results on this blog. That was supposed to happen last week, but a technical glitch (not with the yogurt, but with the photos) delayed those plans.


The first time you make yogurt, you have to add some store-bought yogurt as a starter. (Charlie Huget)

I apologize for the holdup -- and I'm delighted to report that the crockpot yogurt was a success. It couldn't have been easier, and the yogurt is fresh-tasting and plentiful (of course, you can make as much as you like). The recipe made about 8 cups for less than $5 (the cost of a half-gallon of milk and a cup of plain yogurt). I've been eating home-made yogurt daily now, mixing in raisins and walnuts, Grape-Nuts cereal, strawberries -- and my new favorite, crushed pineapple and pecans.


I mixed the starter yogurt with warm milk from the crockpot, then poured the mixture back into the pot. (Charlie Huget)

The entire process is outlined in the link above (which came from a blog called A Year of CrockPotting), but here are the basics: Pour a half-gallon of milk (I used a local brand that had no antibiotics or hormones in it) into your crockpot and set it on low. Cover and cook for 2 1/2 hours. Unplug the pot and let it sit for 3 hours. Scoop out 2 cups of the warmed milk and whisk it with 1/2 cup of plain yogurt that has live, active cultures (which serves as a "starter"). Pour that mixture back into the pot, put the lid on and cover the pot with a thick bath towel. Let it sit for 8 hours. After that, you're all done! Place your yogurt in a container and store it in the fridge.


After resting overnight in the turned-off crockpot, the yogurt had thickened nicely. I set some aside to use as a starter for my next batch. (Charlie Huget)

I used whole milk this first time out, as the recipe recommended, but as I usually eat low-fat yogurt I'll try low-fat milk next time. Speaking of next time: I set aside about a cup of my homemade yogurt to use as the starter instead of buying store-bought yogurt.


My first bowl of homemade yogurt -- with strawberries on top. Yum! (Charlie Huget)

One thing about having a big vat of yogurt in the refrigerator: It reminds you to eat a lot of yogurt, which is a great source of calcium and contains probiotics, or healthy bacteria, which may help keep your digestive tract running smoothly.

I like making things at home instead of buying them at the store -- in part because I enjoy it, and in part because it offers me some sense of security in the face of food-safety scares. (Yes, I know, my home-made food's only as safe as the ingredients I buy at the store, and I could of course be introducing bacteria into the process myself, but still....). I already bake my own bread and make most meals using whole, not processed, foods. What do you make from scratch instead of getting it from the grocery store? Please share your ideas -- and your recipes!

This week's poll:

Results of last week's poll:

Of nearly 300 people voting, nearly half -- 48 percent -- said they used nutrition data provided by fast-food restaurants to help make choices between menu items while in the restaurant. Half that number -- 24 percent -- said they read up on nutrition information before going to fast-food restaurants, and 17 percent said they ignored such nutrition info.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  April 7, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Family Health , Nutrition and Fitness  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Too Much TV? Feed 'em Donuts.
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Comments

I'm excited to try this when I'm sitting here at work but then when I finally get home I'm too busy or too tired. Tales of woe. Anyway, could I thicken the yogurt with guar gum, I think its called or would a colander be better. Also would goats milk be a tasty yogurt. I've never had goats milk, kinda scared to try. They don't smell like a cow so...Would love to own a goat for the fresh know where it comes from milk. I need some encouragement folks. Great site Jennifer.

Posted by: beanhole | April 7, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I regularly make yogurt at home with 1% milk. Here is what I do.
Boil the milk in a saucepan - let it come to a rolling boil and then simmer for some time.
Let it cool until warm or lukewarm to touch. Add a teaspoon of yogurt and stir to mix well.
Place the pan in a warm place. To do this pre-heat oven for 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat and then place the container in the oven. I generally let it sit in the oven overnight.
During summer I leave the container on the countertop overnight to set.

I have often noticed when I use store bought yogurt as starter the yogurt turns out to be gooey/stringy.

Posted by: Losewt08 | April 7, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I've been using this same recipe for months, but I've tweaked it for my own tastes. I use 1% milk, 4 T honey, 1 T vanilla and 1/2 cup of powedered, non-fat milk. This produces a thick, creamy yogurt that is not quite plain, but not sweet like store-bought vanilla.

Posted by: catherineholt | April 7, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

One of the key ingredients of my smoothies are a mixture of yogurt and oatmeal. That is to say, i pre-mix (store-bought) yogurt and a few heapings of oatmeal and, after having it set overnight, scoop in the mixture into the blender. works great. should work even better with home-made yogurt. Am going to give it a try right away.

Posted by: brendan2alexander | April 7, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I started making yoghurt forty years ago but stopped: you can make fine plain yoghurt, but how do you make vanilla yoghurt, which is my favorite?

Posted by: ravitchn | April 7, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I rarely use store bought yogurt because of its gooey texture. I bring yogurt culture from India(really) and use it to make my yogurt. This yogurt doesn't have a gooey texture and tastes really good. .

I boil the milk(usually night)in a container till a creamy layer is formed. Then I let the milk cool down for sometime. When the container is lukewarm to touch, I add a little yogurt to the milk and I'll place the container in the oven with the light on. And the yogurt is formed the next morning.

Posted by: gsujatha | April 7, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Lots of ways to make yogurt without the complication of a slow cooker. Basically, boil milk (sterilizes and does something to the proteins). Let it warm down until it's about 100 degrees (warm, but not hot, to the touch). I skim off the skin from on top. Pour into a plastic container, like tupperware, just to avoid spilling it. Stir in a tablespoon of plain yogurt. Then I wrap it up in a towel, to retain the even warmth overnight, or if I make it in the AM I wrap it in a towel to sit on the counter during the day. It takes about 8 hours of sitting, and it's done.

Posted by: gasmonkey | April 7, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

PS - you can use a coffeemaker funnel and filter to get most of the water out of the yogurt, and it's a cream cheese substitute.

Posted by: gasmonkey | April 7, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse


We have always prepared yogurt back in India. I just heat the milk and wait for it cool a bit and add yogurt and keep it inside the oven. It is done in the morning. I use fat-free milk and it comes out very well.

Posted by: Sash2 | April 7, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Would this also work in a rice cooker? I have one of those fuzzy-logic ones.

Posted by: denisesc1 | April 7, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

If you discard the whey (watery part) to get thicker yogurt, you're going to lose the calcium, too. So save the whey for another use.

For making yogurt, here's a quicker method (about 4 hours).

Ingredients: 3 and 2/3 cups organic milk (I like 1%) and 3 fl. oz. yogurt (6 tablespoons). Warm regular oven by turning it on for just 30 seconds or so. Turn on oven light. Close oven door.

Put milk in a microwavable container, and nuke it for 2 to 3 minutes until it's just above 100 degrees. Add a little hot milk to the yogurt, and stir until liquified. Pour yogurt mixture into the milk; stir. Pour into smaller containers of your choice.

To make a double recipe, repeat.

Check oven warmth to be sure it's about 96 to 104 degrees. Place the filled jars in warm oven. Let stand four hours. Remove jars and refrigerate. They should be ready after the 4 hours, but can sit longer. Yield: 1 quart (single recipe).

Note to the person who had gooey yogurt when using a commercial culture: I had the same experience, but I found that by continuing to make additional batches, the gooiness gradually went away.

Posted by: karen-in-hawaii | April 7, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Boiling or cooking the milk before making yogurt is quite unnecessary. A century ago and more, before pasturization of milk was introduced, it was wise. Today it's a waste of time and energy (literally).

Just warm the milk (microwaving is easiest, but any other method is fine). I've made yogurt successfully hundreds of times using warm milk, not boiled or cooked or simmered milk.

Re goat's milk: it's delicious, but much more expensive than cow's milk. Try some, and I'm sure you'll like it.

Posted by: karen-in-hawaii | April 8, 2009 12:45 AM | Report abuse

I've found that low-fat milk leads to runnier yogurt. Someone recommended adding non-fat dry powdered milk to help thicken it. I only use whole now, so I don't remember the amount to add.

Posted by: watsonja | April 13, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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