After several months of managing gestational diabetes without the use of meds, there is no denying the fact that yogurt keeps my blood sugar more stable than almost any other food. It also provides a lot of the protein I need each day, so I’ve decided to give homemade yogurt a regular place in my daily diet.
Why Homemade Yogurt?
Store-bought yogurt can be really expensive, and the options are few if you don’t want sprinkles, rainbow colors and flavors like birthday cake or s’mores. (Yuck!) So, even though I was a little bit nervous about even trying it at first, I’ve started making my own homemade yogurt at home in my trusty slow cooker (aka Crock Pot yogurt, but Crock Pot is a trademarked brand name so I’m trying to be respectful. 🙂 )
Get ready to be astonished at how easy this is!
What you’ll need:
- 1/2 gallon whole milk (pasteurized is fine, but don’t use ultra-pasteurized)
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt with live/active cultures (This is your starter.)
- one heavy towel
- one slow cooker
- To begin, dump the 1/2 gallon of milk into your slow cooker. Put the lid on, turn on low and allow to cook for 2 1/2 hours.
- Turn off the slow cooker and unplug it. Leave the lid on. Let it sit for about 2 1/2 more hours.
- Scoop about 1 1/2 cups of your yogurt-to-be out of the slow cooker and into a bowl. Whisk in your starter yogurt, and then add it all back into the slow cooker. Stir to blend it all together.
- With the lid on, wrap the whole slow cooker up in the heavy towel. Make sure it’s snug, then tuck it in for the night. (8 hours is ideal.)
- After 8 hours, your yogurt is done! It will have thickened and will look like the photo below.
Don’t be alarmed: It’s not smooth and perfect like store-bought yogurt, and you can see the liquidy whey, but that’s OK.
I chose to strain mine through cheesecloth to give it a thicker consistency, more like Greek yogurt. It came out splendidly!
At this point, you can store your yogurt in the fridge for about a week, up to 10 days. Be sure to keep 1/2 cup set aside for your next batch – no more buying starters!
I like to keep jelly jars on hand to create little yogurt/fruit parfaits to take to work. There’s no waste, which is great because throwing those little plastic yogurt cups in the trash because my area doesn’t recycle them really grates at me. This is also a great way to use up those little odds and ends of berries, jam, preserves, etc. in your fridge. Again, less waste!
A little honey and granola adds a great sweetness and crunch, too (but don’t add that until you’re ready to eat or you’ll get a soggy mess.)
Once you do this a few times, you can start to experiment with low-fat or non-fat milk (I haven’t tried it myself, but I have friends that do, and they say it works.) Adding different flavors is fun, too, although I’ve found that mixing with fruit leads to runny yogurt, so I layer.
There are also things you can do with the whey, but I’m not quite that far along yet. Just wanted to pass this method along now that I’ve done it a few times myself. Making anything with live cultures made me nervous at first, but it really couldn’t be easier, and I’m done paying $1.49 each for a simple yogurt with fruit! Plus, nothing beats knowing exactly what is in the food your make with your own two hands. 🙂
Next up: kefir! 🙂 Still a little scary, but I’m gonna do it!
Have you ever made homemade yogurt at home?
Are there any other typically store-bought foods that you make at home? Please share!