I’m in love with the idea of making my own yogurt. It stems back to when I was a kid and a yogurt maker mysteriously appeared at our house. I have no idea where it came from, or where it went. I don’t ever remember making yogurt from it. But I do recall WISHING we could have made some of our own.
Fast-forward a long, long time to now. When I heard about making yogurt in your crock-pot, I couldn’t believe it. What? I decided I needed to try it. Easy and cheap seemed to be the themes, so how could I go wrong, right? Plus, I didn’t need a yogurt maker!
My first attempt at yogurt making, I decided make a whole gallon. Why not live large, right? I decided I could blame it on my chickens. They love yogurt and I could feed it to them more often if it only cost as much as a gallon of milk.
The gal over at Our Life Simplified has great directions for how to make yogurt. She also has some question and answer dialog that she problem solves with her readers. I followed her directions. But, it didn’t quite go as planned. (Now, if you’re interested in making your own yogurt, I highly recommend her blog…she CANNOT be blamed for my outcome and I don’t want to give her a bad name!)
First, she suggests timing the whole process so that you can let the yogurt cool for 8-12 hours while you’re sleeping. And then you get to wake up to fresh homemade yogurt. How cool is that? But, I decided to do it early and have the whole process done before bed. However, this timing thing was way off for me. Instead of the estimated two hours to bring the milk up to proper temperature, it took mine about twice that time. Next, it had to cool down before adding yogurt cultures. I didn’t even figure this time into my project. It also took quite awhile.
When I finally wrapped my crock-pot in a towel and stuffed it into the oven, I decided my oven was too cold (I kept hearing COOL IT SLOWLY running through my brain)…so I turned the oven on, just for a second. Just long enough to scorch 3 holes in my BRAND NEW TOWEL (now, I thought, what could happen to a towel trapping heat in a crock-pot, so I didn’t use a rag towel, I just used the first one in the stack…my best, nicest, barely used one.)
So, with fires out and kitchen fan on high, I stuffed the crock-pot back in the oven wrapped in a scorched not-so-new-anymore towel. And looked at the time. According to all estimates, my yogurt would be done at around 3am. So much for planning!
The next morning, full of anticipation, I rushed out to check the yogurt. It was slimy! It tasted like yogurt, but I couldn’t get past the texture. A gallon of slimy yogurt! Needless to say, my chickens were in chicken heaven, but I was bummed.
I went back to the blog about yogurt and read through the comments again as well as searching the Internet for problems. In the end, I decided slimy issues could stem from two different things: either the yogurt I used for starter or the powdered milk I used to thicken it.
I wasn’t ready to quit yet, so I planned another yogurt making day. (Read: Glutton for Punishment). This time, I decided to skip the heat-it-up-in-the-crock-pot part. I cooked it over the stove, which took just a few minutes compared to 4 hours. I changed the kind of yogurt I used for starter, and added less powered milk.
Oh, and this time, (just so you know I did learn something) I only made a half-gallon!
And it turned out. Well, sort of. This time it wasn’t slimy, a good step in the right direction, but the taste was overpoweringly sour. Sigh. More yogurt for my chubby chickens who are going need a diet before I’m done with this experimentation.
Don’t let my experiences stop you from making your own yogurt. Everybody’s talking about it. Even me. Most of them have great stories about the ease and inexpensiveness of it. I just had to be different, I guess.
I thought about waiting until I had great success with my yogurt making before I told you of my experience. But, honestly, I might be taking a vacation from this experimentation for a while. A person can only keep so much yogurt-gone-bad in the fridge to feed to chickens. And besides, I don’t want my chickens to decide breakfast should always include a side of freshly made homemade yogurt!