Making my own yogurt was one of the first projects I took on when I adopted a real food diet. I was excited by how easy it was, and how much money I could save that way (we’re big yogurt-eaters around here!). Two years later, yogurt-making is still a regular part of my cooking routine. To be honest, I haven’t tried any other method besides this crock pot version. But I don’t see any need to! This method produces thick, mildly-sour yogurt every time.
Before we get started with the tutorial, note that this method does lightly pasteurize the milk. If you’re trying to make raw milk yogurt, the milk can only be heated to between 105-110 degrees. The living organisms in the raw milk will compete with the bacteria in your yogurt starter culture, and you may end up with runny or separated yogurt. If you want thick, raw-milk yogurt, check this method from Kitchen Stewardship that uses gelatin.
For easy crock pot yogurt you will need:
1/2 gallon of milk
1/3 cup of plain, full-fat yogurt (You may use any store-bought yogurt that contains “live and active cultures.” It should say somewhere on the container.)
Yogurt is full of living bacteria, and they are the ones doing the real yogurt-making, not you! It’s your job to provide them with an environment that they can thrive on. They like to be warm and cozy, so the first step is to heat up the milk that you’d like to culture.
Pour about 1/2 gallon of milk into a large pot or Dutch oven. Place on the stove top and turn the heat to medium. You’re going to heat the milk until it becomes foamy, which will take a good 15-20 minutes. Feel free to work on dishes or meal prep while you wait; just return to the pot and stir it occasionally using a wooden or plastic spoon.
While the milk is heating, turn on your crock pot to low heat, and remove your starter culture from the refrigerator so it will begin warming up.
When the milk becomes foamy, let it continue to foam for another 5-10 minutes. This will produce thicker yogurt.
After a few minutes, remove the pot from heat and let it sit, uncovered, to cool. If you’re using raw or non-homogenized milk, the cream will form into a yellow “mother” on top. I learned from My Humble Kitchen that this is called nata in Spain. I like to scrape it off the top of the liquid and eat it! You could also stir it back into the milk, if you’d rather.
Let the milk cool for about 10-15 minutes, then test the temperature with your finger. The milk should still be quite warm, but not burning to the touch.
Put your starter culture in a small bowl. Pour 1-2 cups of the warm milk into the starter culture. Mix gently with a wooden or plastic spoon.
Pour the remaining milk into the crock pot. Stir in the starter culture. Mix gently, but thoroughly. Put the lid on the crock pot, turn it off, and wrap snugly in a heavy bath towel.
Let the milk culture for 8-12 hours, or overnight. The bacteria will get to work while you sleep!
When the milk has cultured, remove the crock from the base and let it chill in the refrigerator to continue to thicken.
Before eating your yogurt, dip out about 1/3 cup of yogurt to save as your new starter culture for the next batch.
- 1/2 gallon milk
- 1/3 cup yogurt
- Pour milk into a large pot or Dutch oven on the stove top. Warm the milk over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the milk becomes foamy.
- While the milk is heating, turn on crock pot to low heat, and remove the 1/3 cup of yogurt from the refrigerator.
- Let the milk foam for 5-10 minutes, then remove from heat. Let it cool, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes, until liquid is hot (but not burning) to the touch.
- Put the 1/3 cup of yogurt in a bowl and stir in 1-2 cups of warm milk, using a wooden or plastic spoon.
- Pour remaining milk into crock pot. Gently stir in yogurt mixture.
- Turn crock pot off, replace lid, and cover with a heavy towel. Let culture 8-12 hours, or overnight.
- When the milk has cultured, remove crock from base and place directly into the fridge to thicken and cool.
- Before eating the yogurt, dip out about 1/3 cup of yogurt to save as the new starter culture for the next batch.
Have you ever made yogurt? What’s your favorite method?