Ah, Greece. Back in the day, when Bob and I were headlining on cruise ships, I remember a balmy, sunny morning wandering the island of Mykonos, Greece scouting for breakfast.
We found a sweet little Taverna with a view of the Chora port and settled down to a modest bowl of straggisto, or strained yogurt, drizzled with honey, nuts and fresh berries. Simply divine. I still remember how lusciously thick and creamy the yogurt was.
Later this same day, Bob was attacked by a giant pelican and we both got food poisoning eating meatballs. It’s safe to say that yogurt was the culinary highlight of the day in beautiful Mykonos. These days I’m happy to make that yogurt myself.
Now, Greek yogurt is all the rage as evidenced by the price. What gives it the thick and creamy texture is the extra step of straining some of the whey from the yogurt. If you remove all of the whey you’ve made yogurt cheese called “labneh” which is similar to cream cheese.
Turning milk into yogurt takes only two ingredients – milk and a live culture of yogurt bacteria. That’s it. Specifically, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Luckily those are both found in any yogurt at the supermarket that contains live cultures.
Making yogurt in the crockpot is incredibly easy and at about 15 cents per ½ cup serving it’s totally worth doing. I employ my little 2.5-quart crockpot and use half gallon of milk to make 8 cups of yogurt at a time. You can easily double the recipe to use a gallon of milk, make 16 cups and of course, employ a larger crock pot.
EASY CROCKPOT YOGURT
Time: 15 minutes active, 12 hours total. Yield: 8 (4 oz.) servings
What You’ll Need:
- 8 cups milk- I use whole milk but any fat content will work
- ¼ cup plain yogurt – be sure it has active cultures
- Food thermometer
- Large towel
- Put milk in the crock pot on HIGH and heat to a temperature of 180°. This will take about 90 minutes (depending on your crock pot) stir occasionally and watch carefully for scorching. This step denatures the whey proteins to make nice creamy yogurt.
- Turn the crock pot OFF and allow the milk to cool down to 120. This is critical. Temperature is important in this process. If the milk gets over 130° the bacteria will die. If it gets below 85 the bacteria will slow down and it will take a looooong time to ferment. The sweet spot is 108°.
- Remove a cup of the warm milk and add the yogurt, stirring to blend. Dump this back into the crockpot and stir. Put the lid on, wrap the crockpot in the towel and set a timer for 3 hours. The towel helps the crockpot maintain a steady temperature.
- At three hours check the temperature and if it’s below 105° turn the crockpot LOW for 10 minutes, checking the temperature, then turn it off. Wrap it back up for 8 more hours or overnight. Resist the urge to fiddle, just walk away.
- After 8 hours – Congratulations! It’s a yogurt! Isn’t that cool? You just grew a culture and fermented milk! And it’s good! It’ll keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. Be sure to hold back ¼ cup to start your next batch.
For Greek style yogurt; line a colander with cheesecloth and put your yogurt in to strain off some of the whey. Place the colander in a bowl to collect the whey and use it in smoothies, soups or give it to your pets.
Flavor your yogurt with fruit puree, vanilla, honey, or your favorite sweetener. Use plain yogurt as a base for sauces, dips, or in place of sour cream in recipes. Here’s your chance to make your own signature yogurt flavor. Diva strut!
How cool is that? Homemade yogurt that’s full of healthy probiotics, low calorie and low cost.
Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I’m pretty sure it even tastes better when it’s homemade.
Nope, not my imagination. This stuff is amazing.