I've always liked yogurt to some degree, but only the dessert flavored yogurts that Yoplait produces such as key lime pie and cherry cheesecake. It wasn't until I tried my hand at making my own batch of homemade yogurt at home that plain yogurt quickly became a daily necessity in my house. The consistency and very slight vanilla flavor of this yogurt is unlike any yogurt I've ever tried before. It's not as tart as plain yogurt and not as sweet as vanilla which lets fresh berries shine when poured into a fuit and yogurt parfait.
I made my first batch of homemade yogurt almost two months ago and I've been making new batches almost every two weeks to keep up with demand. Robert and I gave up sweets for Lent, so homemade yogurt parfaits have become the new dessert in our house in the absence of cookies and cake and we don't mind at all! In fact, we'll likely stick with this as a standard dessert even after next Sunday, it's just that good.
A few quick notes before I start with the recipe. First, the whole process takes a minimum of 13.5 hours from start to finish. I've found that the ideal time for me to start the process is around 5-5:30pm. That lets the heating and cooling phases complete around 10-10:30pm, then the 8 hour sitting period can occur while you sleep.
Second, you'll notice that the recipe calls for a half gallon of whole milk. I know many of you, like me, only drink skim or at most 2% milk in your households. I haven't yet tried using anything other than whole milk but I've read on the blog where this recipe originated that you can use skim or 2% milk after you get the hang of it and either strain out the extra moisture to make the yogurt thicker, or add some pectin to thicken it up. Personally, I love the flavor that the whole milk provides and I don't plan on changing it anytime soon.
Also, you will not be able to use most organic milk brands in this recipe. Most organic brands ultra-pasturize their milk which keeps the yogurt from fully thickening up. Regular store brand milks are just pasturized and they work fine. I made the mistake of using organic ultra pasturized milk in my first batch and while it still tasted good, it was really runny and not very yogurt-y. Now, let's begin!
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Half gallon of whole milk
1/2 cup organic vanilla yogurt with live, active cultures (I use Stoneyfield French Vanilla 0% yogurt)
4-6 ounce crock pot
2 large bath towels
Pull out your crock pot and plug it in.
Pour the half gallon of milk into the crockpot.
After the 3 hours is over, ladle 2 cups of the warm milk and pour into a medium bowl.
Fold the edges of the towel to cover the top of the crock pot.
Source: Crockpot365 Blog