Tuesday, June 2, 2015

{Revised} Creamy Homemade Greek Yogurt

Lately, I've been loving this combo for breakfast:

A cup of homemade Greek yogurt with a splash of vanilla extract and sweetener to taste, topped with chopped fresh strawberries and homemade granola.  I just love the flavor and texture combination of creamy, protein-filled yogurt, sweet, anti-oxidant and fiber-rich berries, and crunchy whole grain and omega-3 filled granola.

As you know, my Crock Pot fell victim to inertia earlier this year, and I got a new slow cooker (which I will tell you about some time--love it).  My old Crock Pot cooked extremely hot.  I liked using it, because it meant I didn't need a whole lot of hands-on time to get supper on the table, but I also had to be careful not to let it overcook our food.  And if I let the cooker go for even the minimum time specified in slow cooker recipes, the food would be overcooked.  It was frustrating.

The way I understand it, sometime in the '90s, food safety experts were concerned that food cooked in slow cookers was not getting hot enough fast enough, which allowed bacteria to multiply in the food, making it unsafe to consume.  So around that time, slow cooker manufacturers started making their appliances cook hotter.  Now, they've come back around again and the newer models heat up quickly, but modulate their heat better.

This means that I no longer have to worry about overcooked food in my new slow cooker.  I am seriously thrilled about this.

This also means that my original Creamy Homemade Greek Yogurt recipe doesn't work so well, as written.  So here it is again, revised for any slow cooker, whether yours cooks hot or slow.

What are your favorite ways to use yogurt?

Creamy Homemade Greek Yogurt
(for any slow cooker)

Heat the milk: 
This step denatures the milk proteins, which helps the yogurt gel

Place 8 cups of milk in a slow cooker, cover, and cook until the temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.  My slow cooker has a temperature probe, so it's super easy to know when it's hot enough.  In my old crock pot, it was around 2.5 hours on low.  In my new slow cooker, it takes about 2 hours on high.

Cool the milk: 

This step takes the milk down to a good temperature for the yogurt-making bacteria to thrive
Turn off the slow cooker and allow the milk to cool to around 110 degrees.  There are several ways to do this.  You can leave everything in place.  If you have a removable crock, you can take it out.  You can put your crock in an ice bath, like my brother does.  Removing the lid will speed the cooling process.   
The last time I made yogurt, I removed the lid from the crock and the crock from the heating unit and left the unit on warm so I could keep using the temperature probe to monitor the temperature of the milk.  

Add the bacteria: 
Scoop out a cup or two of the warmish milk, and whisk in 1/2 c. of active culture yogurt (buy a cup the first time, then save some of your homemade yogurt to use for subsequent batches).  Add the milk and yogurt mixture to the milk in the slow cooker.

This is where the magic happens
Put the crock in a warm place for the bacteria to do their thing for about 8-12 hours.  I put my crock back into its heating unit (remember, it was still warm because I left it on while the milk was cooling), then wrapped the whole thing in a couple of bath towels.

{Optional} Strain the yogurt:
If you want Greek style yogurt, strain.  If not, just stir the whey (separated liquid) back into the yogurt.
Line a strainer or colander with a couple of layers of cheesecloth, a dish towel, or even paper towels--just make sure your paper towels are not "quilted" or you'll end up with little bits of paper in your yogurt.  Ask me how I know this.   
Dump the yogurt into the lined strainer and let it sit for an hour or two, until it reaches your desired consistency.

Enjoy your yogurt:
That's why we did this, right?
This recipe makes 2 quarts of regular yogurt or about 1 quart of Greek style yogurt, depending on how long you strain.  Your yogurt will stay good in the fridge for 7-10 days.  Don't forget to save some for your next batch--if you need a little more time between batches than 7-10 days, you can freeze it. 
Besides just eating it plain or with your favorite mix-ins, yogurt makes a great substitute for mayonnaise or sour cream in recipes.

1 comment:

  1. That is an interesting idea taking the pot out, but leaving the unit on warm so you can continue to use the probe. Genius actually.


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