Homemade Crockpot Yogurt
Has anyone tried this yet? I have heard it works very well and is one of the simplest methods for large quantities, however I wanted to hear from my fellow chow experts on the matter. I am eager to try this soon so any tips are appreciated!! Thank you!
Here is the site I first discovered this on: http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2...
Use a thermometer to make sure the milk heats up to a sterilizing temperature - about 180 degrees. Crockpots heat at different rates. If competing bacteria are alive in the milk, the yogurt culture may not take.
The yogurt will be more liquidy than the custard style yogurts sold in grocery stores. You can thicken it by adding nonfat milk powder to the milk before you heat it.
If you plan to use homemade yogurt as the starter for other batches, make sure the container that will store the yogurt is sterilized. Any bacteria in the container could contaminate the yogurt and reduce its effectiveness as a starter.
Most newer slow cookers have a range of 200* on low and 300* on high. Check your model's specs.
The recipe link author used raw milk for her yogurt and sterilized it at 200* for 2 1/2 hours. If using pasteurized milk, just bring it up to 185*. Use a thermometer, as icecone suggests. It may take a few hours for the milk in the slow cooker to reach that temperature anyway. Pitch the culture, shut off the slow cooker and rest.
My large one is a true Crockpot and the instructions don't mention a temperature range. (I say "true" Crockpot as a reference to the brand, not the generic product).
When I bake in it, the low setting can push the temperature higher than 200F. With liquid though, if half full at least, it may not exceed 200F. I have to test this. On the other hand, the boiling temp of water is 212F, so in theory, a crock full of water on high shouldn't go over 212F either.
I got the temperature information for mine at the manufacturer's website, and I made a typo, it's NOT 200* to 300*, rather 170* on low to 200* on high, for a popular brand. The operating temps for many slow cookers depends on a few factors. This is what one manufacturer had to say:
"We can not specify temperature ranges for the "High" or "Low" settings. Our slow cookers differentiate "High" and "Low" by wattage. These wattages are set to ensure that a standard food load (as described in AHAM spec SC-1-1979* ) will reach a safe internal temperature within approximately four hours (generally accepted to be 165*.) The wattage required to do this is different for different models, and many variables are involved; (start temperature, food load, room temperature, etc.). Eventually slow cookers will reach a maximum temperature, however the temperature will be different for different environmental conditions and different food loads. Given enough time most food loads will reach the same maximum temperature on both "Low" and "High." "
The AHAM* spec is from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.
That temperature range I quoted above makes complete sense. I've found that degrees of solid vs liquid effect the slow cooker temperature plateau. Mine gets very hot on high, but certainly is not boiling, a good simmer, though, with a large amount (more than half full, as recommended by the manufacturer) of liquid in it.
The warm setting on the slow cooker would be too hot to culture yogurt, as yogurt needs a steady approximately 110* for that step. Heating pad, or wrap the slow cooker insert in a towel, are two good ways, or use LauraGrace's ingenious cooler method, described below, to keep a steady warm temp. Best thing to do to be sure of proper temp-- use a thermometer.
to build on icecone's reply, you can also thicken the finished product by straining out some of the whey, either through cheesecloth or coffee filters...but don't throw out the drained whey, it's nutritious and can be used in many ways.
DD, haven't done it myself (yet) and am hesitant because I cook for my son and myself and he's not a yogurt-eater. So, sounds like it would make way too much for me to eat alone but this blogger has also done it successfully...she has over 300 comments on it too, so FWIW, this might also help you:
I did this method a few times and I have to say that I strongly prefer other methods. I found the crockpot to be annoyingly inaccurate temperature-wise (I'm not a germophobe but I do get veeerrry grouchy if I waste good milk because the stuff didn't get hot enough to kill the bad bacteria and I end up with rotten milk instead of yogurt), and I honestly don't want to faff around with it all day long.
I make a half-gallon of yogurt at a time -- just heat the milk in a pot on the stove, then put the whole pot down in a sink full of ice and water and stir until it's cooled, add powdered milk and the starter, pour into mason jars and incubate overnight in a small cooler filled halfway with hot water. Works perfectly, takes about 30 minutes of hands-on time.
I also found the crockpot method to be unacceptable - well, at least the part about wrapping the crockpot in a towel for the incubation period. The incubation period needs a temp of around 100 - 110 degrees and there's just no way a turned-off crockpot wrapped in a towel can maintain that sort of temperature range. What I ended up with was sort of a tangy, liquidy milk - not even nearly as thick as kefir.
What worked much better for me was a heating pad inside a cooler - although even then I needed to add a bowl of hot water to obtain and maintain the correct temperature. With that method, I ended up with a fine, smooth, custardy yogurt.
I have been trying various ways of making yogurt and thus far it is to use a crock pot set on warm with an X-10 lamp control set at 40%. The X-10 devices are home automation devices and can dim lamps or crock pots. Set at 40% and Warm, my crock pot hits 110 F and stays there. And I wrap the crock pot with a blanket to keep stray drafts from changing the termperature on me.
I have had my share of disasters and am using a combo homemade soy and whole milk combo in the crock pot with vanilla and Equal in it. It comes out fairly thick and thickens even more in the fridge. Makes good yogurt cheese and I mix the cheese with various jams to create flavored yogurts.
I have also had some success in using 4 - 1 pint wide mouth Mason jars which fit easily in the crock pot, lining the crock pot with a towel and using the X-10 thingy to keep the temperature right.
I have had successes both with a yogurt culture and plain Giant Food Store active cultures yogurt as the starters.
Still have yet to perfect everything so I can dependably make yogurt - but am getting there.
PS - Yes, I go through the drill of heating the liquid to near 200 F and cooling it before adding the starter.
"Thus far it is to use a crock pot set on warm with an X-10 lamp control set at 40%. "
Is your crockpot heater control a simple rotary switch or is it one of the digital pushbutton kind?
What a great idea! Why aren't the sous vide people doing this or is only because I haven't been checking the best sous vide info sources? They're all using a thermostat controller, which is easier to use but very costly.
Thanks for all the feedback so far ... I see that I need to buy a few more materials before I attempt my experiment though. Any more ideas are still very much appreciated. The X-10 lamp control sounds brilliant, I have never heard of using one of these with crock pot cooking before. Thank you so much for that suggestion.
maybe it was beginners luck but I gave this basic method a go last night and have luscious tangy yoghurt this am
1 gallon organic milk in crock on low for 2 hours
mix a few cups of hot milk with a 1/2 cup or so of plain yoghurt (organic, whole, plain)
return to crock and incorporate
replace lid, wrap in towel and place in oven (gas w/pilot light) over night
this AM a tangy lovely yoghurt a bit thinner than commercial but perfect for cereal and fruit - I kept 1/2 in its unstrained state and have the remainder in a colander straining for a thicker product.
perhaps it worked so well because it was a warm night but I am impressed - and warm, freshly made yogurt with a drop of honey is something I never tasted before - YUM