DIY Crock Pot Greek Yogurt. GF, SF, SCD, lactose free, frugal



Featured in culture magazine!   click here to see the article!

I'm giving up milk, but thank goodness I don't need to give up yogurt.  The bacteria in yogurt that has incubated for 24 hours eats the lactose and makes it safe for my digestion.

I love making it in the Crock Pot and it works like a charm.   I get thick tangy lactose free Greek yogurt (or is it yoghurt?) for a fraction of the price in the store.  I buy a gallon of the local 2% milk with no growth hormones for $3.00-$3.50.  I use 3/4 of the gallon of milk, so say $2.25, plus about 1/2 of a cup of my last batch's yogurt for starter. You can also use a good commercial plain yogurt with live cultures or a dry starter.

Depending on how long you drain the yogurt, you will finish with a little more than half the original weight of your milk in yogurt.  So for my 100 ounces of milk I get apx. 1 1/2-2 of the large (32 ounce) Greek yogurts that would sell for apx $9.00.  That's a savings of $6.50 per week!
I tried many different methods and this one is the easiest! I'm posting what works best for me and I've made it every week for months now with the same wonderful results!

When I was researching I saw that many yogurt recipes called for dry milk as a thickener.  I didn't want to add dry milk because of the cost.  You really don't need it if you drain your yogurt.  And I also tried the method of pouring the yogurt into sterilized jars before incubating but that was a pain, literally!  I burnt my fingers and broke some of my antique jars too. 

It's so easy! All you need to do is pour the milk (it's best not to use highly pasturized UH or UHT) in your large Crock Pot and turn it on.  I set mine to High, put on the lid, insert my meat thermometer in the lid and that's it, until it reaches 190 degrees.  It takes about 2 hours for mine to reach that temperature.  Try not to disturb or raise the lid until it reaches the desired temp.  If you don't have the little hole for your thermometer like I do, then barely lift the lid to insert your thermometer.  If your temperature doesn't register high enough, then close your lid to continue cooking.

When you do look in, it should have little bubbles around the outside edge.

It's important to heat the milk enough so that it rearranges the proteins in the milk to make your yogurt thick and healthy.  (I'll tell you the rest of the procedure in the recipe below) Now I cook dinner so that the oven will have time to cool down but still be a little warm later when I need to incubate my yogurt.

Make sure you never put your yogurt into a hot oven.  It will kill the healthy bacteria!
Follow the steps in the recipe and this is how it looks after sitting in my 105-110 degree oven for 24 hours!

Sometimes it's solid and firm and other times it looks curdled.  The first time I got a curdled looking batch I threw it out.  I didn't know that once you strain or stir it becomes gorgeous creamy yogurt.  Curds Ali, you know curds and whey? I was pretty upset that I wasted all that gorgeous yogurt!  Live and learn.

Just make sure you have fresh milk (any kind will do), good plain yogurt starter with Live Active Cultures, follow the recipe below and you will have great yogurt. 

You can either strain it for Greek yogurt or spoon it directly into your containers.

Line your strainers/colanders with natural coffee filters or fine cheesecloth and place a large bowl underneath.

Then I let the bowls sit in the fridge for several hours to drain.  The longer it drains, the firmer it gets. You will need to empty the bowl of whey often as it drains. I save the whey/drippings and use it in my smoothies and baking. I also pour a little on our dog's food each day and he loves it. 
After it has drained to the consistency that I want, I scrape the yogurt from the filters gently into a clean bowl and stir well until it's creamy.  Then I spoon it into the containers.  One containers gets a little honey or Stevia and the other I keep for sour cream.  After refrigerating it will get even thicker!

Homemade Crock Pot  Greek Yogurt

Ingredients:

You will need a Crock Pot and a meat or candy thermometer. 

  • 100 ounces of Milk of your choice (or depending on the size of your Crock Pot, pour in enough to fill your Crock Pot 3/4 full)
  • 1/2 cup of yogurt with live active cultures, room temp.  Or you can buy a dry starter and follow the directions  (I started with commercial plain yogurt and now use 1/2 cup of my last batch) *
  •  Honey or Vanilla Liquid Stevia to taste- opt

Directions:   Warm your oven to 110 degrees and turn on the light  (leave the light on for 24 hours)

  1. I fill my large Crock Pot about 3/4 full or apx 3/4 of a gallon of milk.  I have a little hole in my lid and insert a meat thermometer. 
  2. Turn the Crock Pot on High and cover, let the milk heat to 185-190 degrees.  Sometimes mine goes a little higher.  It's fine as long as you don't scorch the milk.  You want it to just begin to simmer on the outside edges.
  3. Now let the milk cool in the covered Crock Pot until it registers 110-115 degrees.  You should be able to stick your finger in and hold it for 10 seconds without burning. It must be cool enough before you add the starter or the heat will kill the beneficial bacteria. 
  4. Put the 1/2 cup of yogurt starter in a small bowl and add a cup of the warm milk, a little at a time to temper, or if using a dry starter follow the package directions.
  5. Stir the small bowl of yogurt milk mixture into the large pot of your Crock Pot.
  6. Put the cover on the Crock Pot and place in your (110 degree) warm oven with the light on.  Snugly cover the pot with a blanket or several large beach towels.  Some people replace the light bulb with a 60 watt but mine does fine as is. 
  7. Leave the covered Crock Pot in the oven for 24 hours in order to get the full benefit of the lactose eating bacteria.  Keep the door closed and the light on.   Having an oven thermometer is helpful too. 
  8. After 24 hours remove the pot and either strain for Greek yogurt or ladle directly into clean containers.  Refrigerate  

Notes on Starter*  I started with a commercial good quality yogurt with Live Active Cultures.  Now I use my last 1/2 cup of each batch of homemade yogurt.  I have also used 6 capsules of a my Live Active Probiotics and that works great but it's expensive.   Once a month or so I "feed" my yogurt with fresh bacteria.  I buy a small cup of plain yogurt to add and that keeps the batches thick.   Let me know if you have any questions.  Happy yogurt making!  Ali

Update 2/9/14    These days I have found a method that's even faster and easier!  I fill my large crockpot liner (without the lid) about 3/4 full with milk and put it in the microwave for apx 1 hour on high.
I test the temperature, put it back in if needed, and then when it has reached at least 190 degrees, I set it on the counter to cool down before adding my tempered culture. The rest of the steps are the same as the recipe above and it works perfectly.  I hope you enjoy this new way of making yogurt as much as I do!

Pin It

8 comments:

  1. So proud of you and this looks yummy.. I am going to try it!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I noticed you said any milk will do, but do you think non-dairy alternatives (coconut or almond)will turn out?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Emily, Yes, I've heard of people using coconut and almond milk for yogurt, but I haven't personally tried it yet. I would love to hear your results!

      Delete
  3. I am so anxious to try this! I saw a recipe that used lactose-free milk to start off. Do you think that would work if we're worried about lactose? (she adds plain gelatin packets to thicken, but I don't know if that's necessary) Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good morning! Lactose is the sugar in milk that the yogurt bacteria will consume, and produce lactic acid (yogurt's tanginess and natural preservative). Lactose-free brands such as Lactaid are made from cows milk with lactose, and lactase added. Lactase is the enzyme missing in the gut of lactose intolerant individuals. It breaks the lactose down into two simple sugars: glucose and galactose. The yogurt cultures consume these to make the yogurt. So if the milk did not have any lactose to start with, it would not work. With that said, there is not much lactose left in the finished yogurt even when you use regular old milk. As a result, many lactose intolerant individuals can enjoy yogurt. You might want to try eating a small amount of good quality plain yogurt, and if all goes well, start making your own. I hope that answers your question. Good luck!

      Delete
  4. i am trying it with almond milk. a question: does the light from the oven keep the oven temp at 110 degrees. i tried another recipe earlier and my oven heat will not go lower than 170. so part of the problem was trying to get the proper temp and i am supposing it needs to maintain that, at least for a time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, I can't wait to hear how it works with almond milk! I turn the oven on for a few minutes and then turn it off. I put the yogurt wrapped in a very thick big towel in the oven when it has cooled to 110 degrees. I keep my light on, the oven closed and 24 hours later the yogurt turns out great. What are you using for your starter?

      Delete