Crockpot Greek Yogurt, Redux
Several months ago I wrote about making my own Greek yogurt in the crockpot. Since then, I’ve made a batch weekly, and have adapted things a bit to work better for me.
I’m reposting with my streamlined method both as a reference for myself (so I can get rid of my ratty notes) and because Mike’s coworkers have demanded to know where he’s getting the yogurt he eats every morning, and he wants to send them here (hi guys!).
To start, I use a gallon of 1% or 2% milk in a 6-quart crockpot. One gallon of milk gives me about 7 cups of yogurt.
I used to start the yogurt in the early to mid-afternoon so it could sit on the counter overnight. I’ve discovered that starting as soon as I get up in the morning (well, after coffee) around 6:30 to 7am works really well, and the whole process gets done in one day and the yogurt is strained and cold in the fridge by the next morning.
If you usually use the Reynolds liners like I do, you’re going to want to wash out your crock first to get rid of the brown residue that the liners leave behind. I don’t use liners for this because there’s whisking and moving around, and the crock isn’t a pain to clean after this anyway (save the liners for the meatloaf and roasts!).
Pour the milk into the crockpot and set the crockpot to high. Use a digital thermometer to get to 180 degrees. This will take several hours — for me it’s around 4.
Once it hits 180°, turn off the crockpot and take the lid off to let the temperature come down to between 105°-110°. I go over and stir it every so often with the thermometer probe, and remove any skin that forms on top.
Once the temperature is down, you need to add your starter. I use a cup of yogurt that I’ve kept in the fridge since my last batch, but you can use a cup of store-bought plain yogurt. Whisk it in.
Then I warm one cup of honey in the microwave for one minute and whisk that in too (skip the honey if you don’t want it).
Remove the crock from the base and wrap it in towels.
I leave mine on my counter at room temperature for the next eight hours.
Note: My room temperature is 82°, so if you keep yours fairly cool you may want to stash it in the oven (don’t turn the oven on!) to help it maintain some heat.
Once the eight hours has passed, unwrap the crock and remove the lid. You’ve got yogurt! At this point I whisk it up once more to kind of break it up and smooth it out, and remove a cup to use for my next batch.
Now line two strainers with four layers each of damp cheesecloth and place over larger bowls to catch the whey. Ladle the yogurt into the strainers, cover with foil or plastic wrap, and stick in the fridge.
I’ve read that you can use a clean t-shirt instead of cheesecloth, and I think next time I go to the store I’m going to buy a pack of new undershirts (nice and thin) and give it a shot. I like the idea of being able to wash and reuse them (I know you can wash cheesecloth, but it’s a pain in the rear).
It’s kind of shocking how much volume it loses after straining.
I’m also always surprised by how much whey there is. You can use whey for a lot of things and honey-flavored like this would probably be good in pancakes and bread but maybe not so much in ricotta.
Scrape out as much as you can from the cheesecloth and into the storage container of your choice.
One more quick run-through with a whisk and you’ve got creamy, delicious homemade Greek yogurt!