Slow Cooker Yogurt

I love slow cookers. I own six of them in various sizes. All were purchased at less than bargain basement prices at various garage sales, with one exception. The slow cooker pictured was given to me as a college graduation present by my Mom and Dad—let us just say, “Long Ago.” I’m never happier than when I find a new (to me at least) use for a slow cooker!

I’ve been using a slow cooker to make yogurt lately. In the summer, we use quite a bit of yogurt in smoothies when fruit is cheap and plentiful. Those little containers of yogurt are pricey, but for the price of one single-serving container of plain yogurt, two quarts of milk (I use 1% milk), and the small amount of electricity a slow cooker uses, you can make 2 quarts of plain yogurt. Here’s how you do it!

First, pick out a two-quart or slightly larger slow cooker because that is how much milk you will be using (less milk smaller size cooker, more milk larger size cooker).

Second, pour two quarts of milk into it and put the lid on.  Cook on low for the next three hours.

This, as you can see, is my oldest and trustiest slow cooker. It is also the best one I have for making yogurt! Please excuse it's battered and spattered appearance! (You'll also note that I have the cooker plugged into a timer so that I can run errands and not have to worry about the milk heating for too long.)

Third, when the three hours have passed, unplug or turn off the crock pot (leave the lid on) allow the milk to cool for two to two and a half hours or until the milk reaches 90-113°F. (I use a yogurt thermometer from one of my electric yogurt makers.) Then whisk a single-serving container of plain yogurt (about 6-8 ounces) into the warm milk.

There are live cultures in all yogurt, but plain is best because there are no coloring or flavorings that make it harder for these cultures to grow.  If you use a soft yogurt like Yoplait, you will have a soft end-product; if you use a firm yogurt like Dannon, you will get a firmer end-product.

I like firmer yogurt, so I use Dannon. Any plain yogurt with active cultures will work just as well.

Fourth, put the lid back on the slow cooker and wrap it in a couple of big towels. Let stand at least 8 hours or overnight.

I've used a number of towels to swaddle my slow cooker and keep it all warm while the cultures grow and turn the milk into yogurt.

Fifth, in the morning, spoon off any whey that has accumulated on the top of the finished yogurt and gently transfer it to individual containers. Your yogurt is totally natural with no gelling agents or stabilizers, so don’t stir it or you will break it’s delicate curd. Refrigerate and use within two weeks.

I’ve been pretty pleased with the results. I use one quart to make a very simple yogurt cheese and most of the remaining quart for smoothies, with the last 6-8 ounces reserved to start the next batch. Try this method out for yourself—I’d love to hear how it works for you! Begonia

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