Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Yogurt Making Sans Plastic: DIY!

You know how I had said earlier that I wanted to learn how to make my own yogurt, cuz I hate the #5 plastic containers?

Well, here's one instance where I'm really glad that I created an email for this blog... because a wonderful reader, Theresa, sent me an email with her awesome recipe! Also, Jen at Funemployment DIY had recently made some yogurt with success, so I felt emboldened. Also, I know that Yoga Spy has asked previously about how to have yogurt sans plastic... so maybe there are others :)

(ps, head on over there, she's having a really cool bloggy giveaway!! go enter!)

First- preface: I am not really a fan of yogurt... even flavoured yogurt. The texture always made me nauseous and well, it's not so great on my digestive system. However, who knew that walking 70-80 minutes a day (to and from work) and keeping up a regular yoga practice would result in weight loss. Which, if you know me isn't a good thing. At all. I also am not a fan of breakfast (due to digestive issues) but since it's the only meal I can reasonably increase, I started eating yogurt and homemade granola. A lot.

Now I have accustomed myself to regular-fruity yogurt. How I thought I'd be alright with homemade I have no idea. (there's some foreshadowing for you!).

Anyhoo, Theresa was so kind to not only send me her recipe, but it's a SLOW COOKER recipe. Ouuuuu! This means low maintenance. It does take longer in some ways than regular recipes (or what Mr. Alton Brown from Good Eats did- don't know who that is?? Seriously best cooking show ever), but it requires less babysitting. 

Theresa's Slow Cooker Yogurt Recipe
Yogurt creation:
- 2L of homogenized milk (organic would be best, less chemicals and hormones added to the milk. And yes Homogenized is best since the yogurt needs that much fat, not 1 or 2% but 3.25%)
- half cup of plain yogurt with active live cultures (make sure to check for the active live cultures part- it's the source of those yummy bacteria!)
- probe thermometer (my addition... if you don't have one follow the times)

Post Yogurt creation:
Frozen fruit (local farmers market may have some local frozen fruit)
Maple Syrup or honey
Vanilla extract (I forgot to use this) 
Chia seeds (optional.. I forgot these too)

  1. Pour the milk into slow cooker, set to low for 2 and a half hours
  2. Unplug slow cooker and let cool for 3 hours (or until milk has reached between 115 or 120F, bacteria dies above 120, optimal growing is between 115-120).
  3. While the milk is cooling, take your yogurt starter out of the fridge so it can slowly reach room temperature.
  4. Once the milk has reached optimum bacteria time, scoop out 2 cups of warm milk and slowly mix in the yogurt starter. 
  5. Add the mix to the milk in the slow cooker and stir.
  6. Cover the slow cooker with several blankets from top to bottom (seriously, several!) to keep the heat in, and let sit (unplugged) over night. 8-12 hours.
  7. In the morning it should have thickened.
  8. Scoop into jars or containers and place into the fridge where it should continue to thicken.

It made four jars worth (two mason jars and two washed 650grams yogurt containers). Which is a lot (for us). Theresa indicates that it should last two weeks. (poorly wrapped slow cooker)

She recommended scooping your amount of yogurt into the container-bowl, adding a bit of honey and a bunch of frozen fruit.

A few notes on the experience:

I LOVE that this is so low maintenance. We left the milk in the slow cooker and went apartment hunting- no worries! Unlike other methods where you kinda have to be there if it's cooking. 
Having a probe thermometer is actually pretty darn handy!

Thoughts for our next attempt:
  • Confession, Andrew had to scoop out the yogurt in the morning cuz the visual sight of the weird texture was making me gag. I am a wimp.
  • Our yogurt is now the weird consistency of a Yop, pretty runny. Most likely because: a) we probably waited too long to add the starter yogurt, b) we may not have wrapped it enough
  • Ways we'll try next time to thicken it: a) using skim milk powder (which weirds me out, but we have some here) b) Theresa highly recommends using chia seeds and husks to help thicken their yogurt.
  • Next time we are halving the recipe, we don't eat a lot of yogurt!

Final verdict: the yogurt itself, once I got past my weirdness with consistency, actually tastes really good! And I think the consistency was more an issue with us and less with the recipe. Especially when I put a bit of honey and a whole bunch of fruit and let it mingle for a few hours in the fridge pre-eating, it was YUM. (note the lady doing a yoga pose on the Liberté Yogurt... not Yoplait Asana... but pretty close!)

Also, it was extremely low cost and low labour... and no plastic!! YES.

Anyone have some yogurt-using recipes??

Article and photograph copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com


  1. So cool! I've been wanting to dabble in DIY foods, lately - breads (which I'm notoriously bad at), and even kombucha. We'll see. Congrats on the yoga!

    And congrats on getting rid of the silverfish!!

    And...boy, you are gonna be in shape on your wedding day! ;)

  2. interesting! i suddenly lost my interest in yogurt out of the tub not long ago but love to buy the tubs of it plain (something i never thought i'd do) and use it for a) smoothies (mixed it with some of my jelly/jam, yum) and b) my dog loves it and my vet recommends it for the old girl as protein :)

  3. interested to see what you try next! here in Georgia (Republic of) you can buy fresh locally made yogurt in the mornings from corner stores... you have to bring in a small glass jar to trade, which I just love! no waste :)

  4. i have never liked yogurt either because of the consistency! we're not alone! i will only eat it in smoothies. as healthy as i know it would be on granola i just can't do it.

  5. I use yogurt on everything I would normally use sour cream on: tacos, dal, flatbread, baked potatoes... I can't even tell a difference!

  6. I am not a yogurt eater, but my husband is and he makes it all the time. His method is also very low maintenance.

    First, the texture is very dependent on the milk and yogurt you start with. He uses non-homogenized grass-fed whole milk. (I do not think the homogenization or lack thereof matters - but the fat definitely does and low fat milk will not make creamy yogurt). Second, he started it all with some very rich, grass-fed organic yogurt that he used to buy all the time. That culture and consistency has propogated now through all the yogurt he makes.

    Now the really easy part - it takes a little more effort than the slow cooker but is much lower tech and frees up the slow cooker for other uses by ME.

    Heat a half gallon of milk to boiling - but not boiling over, so must watch it. (He eats a LOT of yogurt - the recipe could certainly be halved). Allow it to boil gently for 2 minutes. Place the pot in a sink or larger pot or pan full of cold water (can add ice to the water). Allow it to cook to about 100 degrees F, or just until a drop placed on the back of your hand cannot be felt to be "hot". Stir about one cup of yogurt into it gently with a wish. Pour the mixture into mason jars and set into a cooler with a couple of inches of warm (maybe 120 degrees? not critical) water. Close the lid. You can then just let it sit there for about 8 hours. If you want to you can add a couple of mason jars of not-too-hot water to the cooler about mid way, after the water in the bottom of the cooler cools off a bit. That 's it! After 8 hours you have rich, creamy yogurt.

    He eats it with blueberries, raisins, or some seasonal fruit mixed in, sometimes with honey.

    I only wish I could enjoy eating it as much as he does. I too have a problem with that kind of texture in the morning, and prefer something crunchy like toast or cereal. But I keep trying.

  7. i love the picture of the poorly wrapped slowcooker!

  8. Yay, I'm glad you liked the recipe! We have homemade yogurt almost every workday. It definitely gets us eating a variety of fruits that we probably wouldn't normally be eating as often. Some batches turn out a little lumpy or a little thin, but the taste is the same. Just gotta get over the visual ick factor sometimes, ha ha. :) Psyillium husks and chia seeds are the perfect way to thicken it up though.

  9. I love yogurt...eat it every morning and have been making my own for the last 3 years. But I use a yogurt maker that makes 6 small jars (1L)at a time that will last me almost a week. I buy Yogourmet Cultures (one box contains six packages of starter) to start my original batch but then I reserve about1/2 a cup of yogurt to make the next several batches. I like my yogurt thick so I use 4 cups of 2% milk but I mix in 1/2 cup instant milk. Heat the milk to scalding...be careful not to scorch it or you will really taste it...cool to luke warm ( use the wrist test)stir in your culture or reserved yogurt and pour into the glass yogurt jars. Place them into the yogurt maker, plug it in and set the timer. I always do mine for 12 hours as like I said I like it thick and tart. You can get a maker for around $30 and if is so worth it...it takes all the guess work out of it.

  10. now that i actually have a place to call home, i CANNOT WAIT to make yogurt!!! this is a great intro to keep bookmarked. thanks!!

  11. I am SO trying this recipe!! Thanks!!

  12. I've been making my own yogurt for several years, but like Marisa, I use a yogurt maker. If you're having trouble using up all that yogurt, here's a guest post I wrote with some ways we use it in our house:


  13. thank you so much everyone!! I love the wonderful tips and shared recipes- so fun :) and a great resource.

    I am on day two of eating the yogurt with honey and fruit... and granola, and it has been a SUCCESS. T is right, after the differences are concurred (ok, in my mind obviously) the taste is great. :)

  14. I've been using this recipe for quite a while, maybe a year. The only time it didn't work was the time I forgot to turn on the crock pot(sad). Two ways to make this easier: don't bother to measure the temperature. As long as your crock pot's on low it will be fine. And I only wrap it in a bath towel, and it works fine. I think it's a fairly forgiving recipe. Once I forgot to set the crock pot temperature on low and left it on high for the first two and a half hours. It was bubbling when I checked in at the unplug stage! But it turned out okay anyway. I love doing something this easy. Pour milk. Plug in. Set dial. My kind of recipe.

  15. I think I'll buy a slow cooker or yogurt maker (similar, I suppose). I've been resistant to buying another appliance made in China of plastic--for its nonbiodegradability and the energy and carbon emissions involved in its manufacture.

    What if it's like cars: they say that the amount of carbon emissions you reduce with a new Prius is miniscule compared to the carbon released to manufacture that new car!

    But if I use the slow cooker or yogurt maker for YEARS, I'm bound to do better than buying #5 containers (even if recyclable), right?

    Gets really confusing, doing the right eco thing.

    I do love yogurt and would probably make a lot of it! Thanks again, Eco, for this helpful post.

    PS Is the texture different with each batch? Are you pro now?

  16. I just tried the yogourt thing for the first time a few weeks ago, and I'm on my third batch tonight. To make the texture better, I strain it with cheesecloth for a few hours. It thickens up nicely. You can use the whey (the liquid that's strained out) for baking with, too - it's packed with protein, apparently. Hope you guys are well!


I love hearing from you! So I don't miss a comment, I like "pre-approving" them :)
I ask only that we stay respectful.
Also, please note that this is a personal blog and not a space for advertising your company. I reserve the right to delete "advertising" comments.

**NB: The ANONYMOUS option is the BEST way to comment if you don't have a blogger or established google/gmail account.