The Yogurt You've All Been Waiting For!

Ok, well maybe all of you haven't been waiting, but for those of you who have, I really appreciate you patience, and I hope you will find the wait worthwhile.  Our little family seems to be on the mend, so yesterday I was able to make some yogurt, and take some pictures along the way.  Enjoy!

Before we get started, in case you're wondering how I learned to do this, I learned from watching these videos at Everyday Food Storage.net.  The way I make mine varies very little from the way you will see it made there, and in case you are wondering what else you can do with your powdered milk, make her food storage hot fudge sauce.  You'll thank me, you'll thank her, you'll thank anyone near you, because you will be so happy!

Okay, yogurt.  Here we go.  You're going to need:
2 quarts water (8 cups)
Heaping 2 2/3 cups of NON-instant powdered milk
1/2 cup yogurt containing live active cultures  (I personally use Stonyfield plain)
Optional sweetener
Slow cooker
Bath Towel (trust me)

First you are going to add the water and the powdered milk to the slow cooker.  Non-instant powdered milk is very fine, like flour, while instant is puffier, kind of like grape nuts, because it has air added to it.  If you are getting your powdered milk from an LDS cannery, it is non-instant.  You can make this with instant, but you will need double the amount of powdered milk, but I don't think it's as cost effective.   
 Then using a whisk mix it all together.  This can be done with a blender, but I know not everyone owns one, so I wanted you to see that you can do it by hand.  When I use my blender I put about 3 cups of the water in with all of the powdered milk and blend it until it's smooth, and pour it into the slow cooker.  Then I add the remaining water to the blender to get off any milk that may have stuck to the sides, and add that to the slow cooker, and give it all a quick stir.  If you are going to add sweetener this is the time to do it.  (I don't add sweetener, so I can't give you any estimates on how much to add.)
 When you're done mixing it will be a little foamy on top, and that's just fine.  Put the lid on, and turn the heat to low, then go do something fun for 2 1/2 hours.
After 2 1/2 hours unplug your slow cooker, and let it sit with the lid on for 3 hours.  This is to let the milk cool down some so that the bacteria in your yogurt won't be killed when you add it.  You'll notice the foam has mostly dissipated, and their may be a slight brown ring from some milk splashing on the side of the crock, that's all okay. 
 After three hours take about a cup and half of the milk out of the slow cooker and add it to a bowl or a measuring cup.  Add a half of a cup of yogurt to the milk you've pulled out, and mix it with a whisk or a fork until it's well blended.  Then add it all back into the slow cooker and give it a stir.
 Put the lid back on your slow cooker and keeping it unplugged, wrap it up in a towel.  Bitsy says we're tucking the yogurt into bed.  :)  I put the slow cooker on top of the towel, then wrap the sides up, and then the front and back.  It doesn't matter how you do it as long as the towel is completely surrounding the slow cooker to keep the heat in.  Now you just leave it alone for 6-8 hours.  Avoid the temptation to check on it because you don't want to let the heat out, and if you move it to much the whey will separate out.
 I always check mine after six hours, because I live in a slightly warmer environment, and it is almost always done.  You can see it is really well set up here after 6 hours.  If you check it and it's not as thick as you would like just wrap it back up and check on it again later.  Congratulations, you've just made 2 1/2 quarts of yogurt, for about a dollar! 
I store mine in mason jars, but you can store it in any airtight container in the refrigerator.  Make sure and save half of a cup of it so you can use it as the starter for your next batch.  I've made mine for about 6 months now just using 1/2 a cup form my previous batch.  If you notice it is starting to get runny, or not set well, then it's time to buy a new container of yogurt from the store to use as a starter.

I mentioned that I don't use sweetener, and that's because I like to make yogurt cheese, and use my yogurt as a sour cream substitute, which doesn't work real well when it's sweetened.  My children like it with some granola and fruit added in, but if we have someone who really wants it sweetened I add a little honey and a little vanilla to the bowl as I'm serving it.  

I should also add that I've made yogurt lots of different ways over the last three to four years, and this is my absolute FAVORITE way to do it.  I hope you enjoy it.  Let me know if you have questions.

Mary  – (November 16, 2011 at 8:41 PM)  

WOW! Thanks~ I have yogurt 3 to 4 or even 5 times a day, I have really bad bleeding ulcers and it soothes the stomach, but I also have to eat every 2 hours so yogurt is easy to just grab, but I will try your recipe this weekend and let you know how it turned out for me~

Abby  – (November 16, 2011 at 11:01 PM)  

Mary, I hope it turns out well, please do let me know. I bet you could save some of the store bought containers to put it in, or get some of the small plastic containers at the store to make it easy to still grab and go. Good luck!

Gary and Elizabeth Little  – (January 7, 2012 at 10:01 PM)  

Wow!

What a find! I am not so intimidated now. Thank you so much!


Elizabeth

Abby  – (January 7, 2012 at 10:23 PM)  

Elizabeth, I'm so glad to hear it! I hope you enjoy it.

Michelle  – (January 11, 2012 at 7:22 PM)  

Abby, this is WONDERFUL! Thank you so much for the link. I am going to make this SOON! Any ideas on how to make it a whole-milk yogurt inexpensively for a baby? Could I add cream?

Thanks for including the link in your post to the hot fudge sauce too!

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