Thursday, February 24, 2011

Clean Eating Homemade Yogurt in the Crockpot (and Frozen Yogurt!!)

Makes 17 servings, 1/2 cup each
I got the original idea for making yogurt in the crockpot HERE. The first time I made it it was totally awesome... and I was FURIOUS. My kids have yogurt every single day for lunch which means I've been buying copious amounts of yogurt every week for 3 years now. When I first started feeding Colwynn solids, I saw several recipes to make homemade yogurt in my Super Baby Food book but they all seemed like so much work. I shudder at the thought of how much money I would have saved if I had known about the crockpot method sooner. Grrrr.


This is seriously the easiest thing in the world to do. It takes a while to make but 99% of the time is spent doing nothing so there’s almost no hands-on time. I’ve found that the best time to start it is 4:30 in the afternoon so that I’m doing the last hands-on step at 10PM before I go to bed. Then it makes itself while I’m sleeping. I’ve made the mistake of starting it too late before and have had to set my alarm clock to get up and add the starter at 1:00 AM. It was still totally worth it in the morning, though :)


UPDATE: Since posting this original recipe, I have played around with the measurements and I have actually gotten the best results using 2/3 cup milk powder and no gelatin. This gives me a thicker yogurt right out of the pot without the jello-like texture that the gelatin tends to make. This is just our family's preference so play around with it yourself and see what you like best :) Also, when you scoop it out of the crockpot into containers DO NOT STIR it first. The more you stir, the more liquidy it gets and it will not thicken up again unless you strain it.

UPDATE 2: Seriously, this is the easiest thing ever!! Don't be scared, just do it. I have changed the original post to have super simple instructions for all of my friends that say they need me to hold their hand through yogurt making (you know who you are). You can do it!! Then read the more detailed instructions if you want to get fancy with it. Now you have no excuse :)

Topped with nuts, drizzled with Agave nectar, and served with Homemade Granola Bars.
Can you say YUM?
Ingredients:
  • Half gallon of milk (whole, 2%, 1%, whatever)
  • ½ cup plain yogurt (I don't suggest using strained or Greek yogurt b/c when I've used them in the past, the resulting yogurt was kind of watery.)
  • 1/3 - 2/3 cup nonfat dry milk (optional but really helps to thicken it, I use 2/3 cup)
Simple Instructions:
1. Dump milk into crockpot. Whisk in 2/3 cup milk powder (if using).
2. Turn crockpot on low, cover, set timer for 2 1/2 hours.
3. Turn crockpot off, keep covered, set timer for 3 hours.
4. Scoop out about 2 cups of the warm milk into a clean container. Gently stir in 1/2 cup plain yogurt. 
5. Dump the yogurt-milk mixture back into the crockpot, gently stir it once or twice.
6. Replace crockpot lid, wrap the whole crockpot in a thick bath towel, let it sit for about 8 hours.
7. Unwrap crockpot, take lid off, gently scoop yogurt into clean containers, store in fridge.
8. Do happy dance that you have an entire crockpot full of yogurt and it was the easiest thing you have ever made. (This step is optional but you know you'll do it anyway hehehe)
Fancy more detailed instructions: 
  • For thicker yogurt, add 1 packet unflavored gelatin (details below)
  • For sweetened yogurt, add in 4 Tbsp Agave nectar or honey (again, details below
  • For Greek style yogurt, use the same recipe as regular yogurt and then strain it using the instructions below
ONE: Pour the entire half gallon of milk into the crockpot. Whisk in the nonfat milk powder and Agave/honey if using. Sprinkle the packet of gelatin on top. Let it sit 5 minutes to soften and then whisk it in.

Sprinkle the gelatin on top first so that it can soften
TWO: Cover and cook on low for 2 ½ hours (set a timer so you don’t forget about it).

THREE: Unplug the crockpot but don’t uncover it. Let it sit for 3 hours (again, set a timer... or your alarm clock hehehe)

FOUR: Scoop out about 2 cups of the milk into a bowl and whisk in the 1/2 cup of plain yogurt. Add the mixture back into the crockpot and stir well. Wrap the whole crockpot in a thick bath towel and let it sit for 8 hours or overnight.

I like to think of it as the crockpot being swaddled, hehehe :)
In the morning the milk will have miraculously become yogurt. It is the coolest thing ever. I promise you that you’ll get a little rush of excitement when you go to dip the spoon in and it’s thickened. Scoop it out of the container WITHOUT STIRRING IT FIRST and store it in plastic container(s) in the fridge. I use cleaned out 32oz yogurt containers… you know, from back when I actually paid for yogurt (again, grrrrr). I’ll admit I get a smug little grin every time I scoop my way cheaper homemade yogurt out of it. Save 1/2 cup as a starter to make a new batch.

The first scrape with the spoon the next morning...
It's probably a little weird how excited I get at this moment, LOL
Breakfast :)
Straining instructions for Greek style yogurt:
The milk powder (and gelatin if you used it) will help to make the yogurt thicker but, if you would prefer Greek style yogurt, place several coffee filters into a colander and place it in a bowl. Spoon some of the yogurt into the coffee filters and let it drain overnight. Scrape the newly thickened yogurt off the coffee filters and back into a container. Enjoy :)


TO FREEZE: You can DEFINITELY freeze this and make frozen yogurt with it. We have an ice cream maker so I usually add a particularly sweet fruit, like pureed peaches or pears, in with the yogurt and follow the instructions for my model. However, Clean Eating has a great frozen yogurt recipe that doesn't use an ice cream maker HERE. (Update: this link is no longer working. I'll post the instructions soon.)

NUTRITION INFO:

Per serving using 1% (low fat) milk (unsweetened but made with gelatin and milk powder) - 59 Calories (11 Calories from Fat), 1g Total Fat, 1g Saturated Fat, 6mg Cholesterol, 64mg Sodium, 7g Total Carbohydrates, 0d Dietary Fiber, 7g Sugars, 5g Protein, 5% Vitamin A, 0% Vitamin C, 17% Calcium, 0% Iron

31 comments:

  1. What about flavored yogurt?

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  2. Great question, Jill. If you're looking for a slightly sweet yogurt like store bought vanilla, whisk 4 Tbsp of Agave nectar or honey into the milk when you first put it into the crokpot. For other flavors, like strawberry or peach, you could always mash some fresh fruit up and stir it in before serving. You could even mash a bunch of fruit and stir it into the yogurt before you put it into containers. I recommend stirring gently, though, because the more you stir, the more liquidy the yogurt gets. This is true for store bought yogurt as well. I find that the easiest way to make fruit flavored yogurt is by stirring in a Tbsp of all natural fruit jam just before serving. Hope this helps!! Happy yogurt making!!

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  3. I found you through your comment left at the other site. I will use this method with my next batch.

    BTW, what state are you in? I was wondering if my yogurt has been hit-and-miss because it has been too cold here.

    Thanks!

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  4. Adhis, we're in FL so it's usually pretty warm. Temperature could certainly have something to do with it. Maybe try wrapping your crockpot in two thick towels instead of one for some extra insulation. And make sure it's not in a drafty area. You could even stick the whole crockpot into your oven (with the oven off of course) to prevent drafts.

    Mine still becomes yogurt if I use only milk and the store bought yogurt as a starter but it's pretty thin. The milk powder and gelatin make a HUGE difference. With them added I can serve it to my almost 2-year-old straight out of the crock and it's thick enough for him to eat with minimal mess. I usually strain half into Greek yogurt anyway, though, just cause we like it :)

    Also, make sure your started yogurt is very fresh so that the good bacteria are alive and active.

    Good luck!!

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  5. i tried this on the other site you posted on with no success...vereee runny and when i strained it i strained the whole batch and ended up with great dry cottage cheese. i am trying it again now...the three hour wait is over and i am going to add the balkan style yogurt (does that mean its greek?) and 1 pouch of gelatine...and see what happens.

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  6. Hey Sylvie,
    I have made this about 20 times now and I haven't had good results the two times I used the greek or balkan style yogurt so I'll cross my fingers for you. However, the other 18 times it was AWESOME!!

    Also, I think it's important to add the gelatin at the VERY beginning as it directs above so that it has a chance to soften and then get thoroughly mixed into the milk before it's heated. Adding it in at the end might leave you with little lumps of gelatin throughout the yogurt.

    Finally, I got the best success when I added 1/3 cup of non-fat milk powder in at the very beginning. I promise you if you follow the directions above you should get good quality yogurt. Or, if not, I'll come to your house and make it for you, LOL!!

    Good luck!
    ~Bri

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  7. I'm trying to get more organic and natural foods and it's costly. I eat yogurt every morning and my son also likes. I'm intrigued by your post and will be trying. Only question I have is if the type of milk has a big difference on yogurt. I'm a fat free milk drinker/buyer; however, if it's best with say 1% or 2% I could handle it if using it for making yogurt. No way could I drink it or put it in my cereal... ;-)

    From north AL - Huntsville area,
    Debbie

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  8. Hi Debbie,
    This is going to save you a TON of money over buying organic yogurt I promise you :) I've never made it with skim milk but I didn't notice much difference between our whole milk yogurt and our 1% milk yogurt. I'm assuming that the milk fat helps make the yogurt creamier and maybe a tad thicker. If you use the milk powder and the gelatin, though, you shouldn't have a problem using skim milk. Whe you try it, let me know how it comes out :)

    Good luck!
    ~Bri

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  9. i know this is going to sound like a dumb question since the name of your blog has the word freeze in it, but can you freeze the homemade yogurt? it wasn't specified, lol.

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  10. Heather!!! I am literally laughing out loud reading this!! Not a dumb question at all :) You can DEFINITELY freeze this and make frozen yogurt with it. We have an ice cream maker so I usually add a particularly sweet fruit like pureed peaches or pears in with the yogurt and follow the instructions for my model. However, Clean Eating has a great frozen yogurt recipe that doesn't use an ice cream maker. Here's the link http://beta.cleaneatingmag.com/Recipes/Recipe/CE-Ice-Cream-Sandwiches.aspx.

    Good luck!!
    ~Bri

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  11. ok, so i decided not to go the frozen yogurt route, but i did try your recipe in the crock pot last night. i dipped my spoon in this morning and tried it out. the texture was super smooth and creamy but the taste was a little funky. i thought i messed it up. but then i chilled it and added some of your homemade granola (mine crumbled a bit bc i didn't use enough honey...duh) and agave and voila! it was delicious! thanks!

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  12. What about using almond milk or soy milk

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  13. Heather, that sounds totally delicious!! The homemade yogurt can sometimes be a bit more tart than store bought yogurt. Also, if someone is used to sweetened or vanilla yogurt, the plain may take some getting used to. But we do the same things as you, drizzle a bit of Agave in there and some granola, yum yum yum :)

    We've also been known to stir a tablespoon of tahini and some fruit jam into ours. The tahini (ground sesame seeds) is a great source of protein and healthy fats and with the jam it almost tastes like peanut butter and jelly yogurt :) You can find it in the ethnic aisle at most grocery stores or even WalMart. If it's not in the ethnic aisle, sometimes it's by the peanut butter.

    Jaelwoman, I've done it with chocolate soy milk and it didn't work quite as well but I still ended up with quite a bit of chocolate soy yogurt (technically called cultured soy milk since the word "yogurt" is specific to dairy). Here's the link http://freezeyourwayfit.blogspot.com/2011/02/homemade-chocolate-soy-yogurt.html

    Let me know how yours comes out if you try it.

    Good luck!!
    ~Bri

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  14. Hi Bri,
    How do you think it would turn out if flavored gelatin were added instead of unflavored? ~Amanda

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  15. Hey Amanda,
    I never really thought about it but I bet it would come out the same flavor as the gelatin. Are you talking about like a box of jello? That's going to be a bit more gelatin than I normally put in since I only use one packet of the unflavored gelatin. This might affect the texture a little but it would be worth a try. Of course if it was as box of jello you were using it wouldn't be "clean" since they are basically just sugar and food coloring. I wonder if there is a all natural flavored gelatin. I'll have to google it. Let me know if you know of one or find one. And if you try it, how it turns out.

    Good luck!
    ~Bri

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  16. Hi Bri,

    I followed your recipe, but added a tsp vanilla in the beginning (usually I don't tamper until AFTER my first time trying a new recipe, that'll teach me!:). When I got up this morning my "yogurt" was pretty runny (somewhere between yogurt and buttermilk texture). It tasted good (tart), but better than store bought plain in my opinion. The only other difference is that I covered my crock at 8 last night and forgot about it until 7:30 am!!! Is that too long? Is it still safe to eat? I have 2 small boys also (ages 4 and 20 months) who LOVE yogurt. Yogurt is one of the only areas we have not gone "clean" because of the tartness factor. Thanks for all that you do!

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  17. Hey Rayna,
    I haven't tried it with adding the vanilla at the beginning so I can't say for sure if that's why it was thinner. Did you put the milk powder and gelatin in? That really helps to thicken it. And that's not too long. I usually cover mine at about 10 or 11 and put it in the fridge after 10 the next morning.

    My boys have always eaten plain yogurt so they're used to the flavor but sometimes I add a bit of honey or agave into theirs to sweeten it. Maybe that will help your little guys make the switch too :)

    Good luck!
    ~Bri

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  18. I'm SOOOO trying this receipe as soon as I can get the ingredients! How long does this yogurt last in the fridge? Have you ever frozen it and then thawed it for eating or do you just eat it frozen. Thanks for this blog!!!!
    ~Diana

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  19. Hey Diana,
    I think it would likely be pretty soupy if you froze and then thawed it but it would be great in a smoothie. I usually make a new batch about every 10 days so I know it stays fresh that long. If you plan on keeping it longer than that, maybe look at when the milk expires and go by that.

    Good luck!
    ~Bri

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  20. Amber ScameheornMay 24, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    Hey Bri - a thought for some people that might be having trouble with this (since we've had great success at our house). We usually buy organic milk, but I remember reading on the original blog to make sure that the milk you use is not ultra-pasteurized (though regular pasteurized is fine). All of the organic milk I can find in the stores is ultra-pasteurized, so for our yogurt, I always buy non-organic regular pasteurized milk. So if someone is following your directions but not having good results, maybe they should check to make sure their milk isn't ultra-pasteurized. I don't know why it makes a difference, I just remember the original blog was very specific about it.

    I'll be making some more yogurt today! Trying reduced-fat milk and thickening with milk powder for the first time, so wish me luck. :)

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  21. Hi Bri,
    Just wondering if you or anyone else out there has tried adding either more dry milk or more gelatin to the recipe. I have made it 3 times now (successfully), and it is delicious, but it's still a little too runny for my 22 month old to eat with a spoon (especially if I add any honey or agave). I would love to scoop up a spoonful like in your picture!

    Thanks!

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  22. Hey Rayna,
    I've had a few people tell me they doubled the milk powder and it made it a bit thicker. I would suggest trying that first over the extra gelatin because I think the gelatin changes the consistency more than the milk powder does.

    The absolute biggest thing that makes a difference for us is straining about 1/3 to 1/2 of it overnight using the coffee filter method described above or cheesecloth. Mine gets so thick that you could cut it with a knife. I then gently stir that super thick yogurt into the container of unstrained yogurt and the result is similar to the consistency of store bought greek yogurt. Very toddler-friendly for spooning :)

    Also, when you are first spooning the yogurt out of the crockpot into containers, be very gentle with it and stir it as little as possible. I find that the less I stir before it goes into the fridge, the thicker it is coming out of the fridge. Hope that helps!

    ~Bri

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  23. Briony,

    How can I add more protein to this yogurt? My husband likes the greek yogurt for the added protein in it.

    Thanks,
    Crystal

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  24. Crystal,
    Greek yogurt is simply regular yogurt with the extra whey strained out. It has more protein because it is more concentrated. A cup of milk yields a cup of regular yogurt while a cup of Greek yogurt might take 2 or even 4 cups of milk to make. So basically, if you want higher protein Greek yogurt, just follow the exact same recipe as above and strain it according to the directions. Hope that helps!!

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  25. i need to know how to figure out the nutritional info for my hubby's diabetes. I used 2% milk and my starter yogurt may be different than yours. Help!

    This was good and will continue to make. It wouldn't let me post as myself.

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  26. I tried the link for the frozen yogurt but it says page is not found. Do you know how I could find the recipe? I love frozen yogurt. This looks great and I will try it as soon as I finish up the yogurt I just bought!

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  27. I made the most fabulous greek yogurt with this recipe minus the powdered milk. Thick and beautiful. I filled 7 pint mason jars layered with sugar free preserves. I will never go back !!! Thank you so much!!!

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  28. You just made my life SO happy! :-D <3

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  29. Finally tried it...I have awesome creamy organic yogurt...about 9 cups! This time it is plain, but it does not have that slightly bitter taste I associate with plain yogurt. Next time I will make vanilla yogurt which is how we like it.
    Do you think that halving the recipe will still work in a smaller crock pot? I am thinking of making some fruit flavors for the kids too.

    Thank you!!!

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  30. I am very excited to try this! Has anyone tried using organic vanilla yogurt as the starter instead of plain?

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  31. Hi. I saw your comments about yogurt making on another blog and came over to see what you were doing with milk powder and gelatin. Thanks for sharing your results. I may have to try some of these ideas. Have a great day!

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