January 30, 2012

COOK! | DIY Homemade Yogurt FAIL!

For 2012, I have a number of DIY Homemade recipes for grocery items that I plan to make in my kitchen.

Not only can you save money making pricier items at home, you can also control the ingredients and the quality of the ingredients, a must for many folks on special diets.

My January DIY Homemade Recipe Project was Crock Pot Yogurt.
I've read many bloggers who have attempted  making Crock Pot/Slow Cooker Yogurt with great success, most notably Stephanie O'Dea who authors A Year of Slow Cooking.  

I decided to use her recipe (you can find it here).  The ingredients were pretty straight-foward:

:: 1/2 gallon whole milk

:: 1/2 cup yogurt with live active cultures

:: Fruit & vanilla extract for flavoring 

The last ingredient - the fruit and vanilla - assumes you will actually succeed in making edible homemade yogurt.

Alas, my friends, I did not.

Here's what my final product looked like:

It was not edible at all.

Despite my initial sense of dang-it! failure and my grrrr-ing as I dumped the whole mess down the disposal, I actually am glad I tried this recipe.  After looking through the comments at the recipe post, I can see where I made mistakes and how I might try again and actually succeed in making yogurt for my family.  We love it but it is spendy.  (Spendy because all five of us could easily eat $10-$15 worth each week!)

First, the milk did actually turn to yogurt - it thickened a bit but was still very runny.  But the distinctive yogurt smell was there so I knew the process had worked.

The sole problem I encountered was the runny-ness of the batch.  It was the consistency of a yogurt drink rather than a thick and creamy yogurt that could hold up a spoon (which was what I was aiming for).

Looking through the comments at the recipe post, I saw that some people added plain gelatin to their yogurt to thicken it.  However, because I was a bit frustrated (shocking, I know, lol!) at the mess I'd made, I didn't read the comment closely enough to see WHEN you were supposed to add the plain gelatin.

Instead, I tore through my cabinet, grabbed a packet of plain gelatin (which I had on hand from making jam in past years), and whisked it into the finished yogurt.  You'll note the distinctive and lovely lumps in my finished product photo  LOL!

After looking back through the comments (a little more slowly and with some deep-breathing induced patience), I realized that the gelatin thickening trick works if you mix it in with the yogurt starter and then whisk the whole mixture into the heated milk before letting it sit overnight.


There was also another trick for thickening the yogurt: mixing 2 TBSP of powdered dry milk into the yogurt starter before adding it to the hot milk.

So while my first batch failed, I'm still game to try again using these two tricks.  I think I will use both of my slow cookers and try each thickening method, one per slow cooker, so that I can compare the finished products and see which one is better. I'll be sure to share the results with you as well.

{This, of course, optimistically assumes that next time I will have an edible finished product!}

If you have experience making really good, really thick yogurt in your Crock Pot or slow cooker, I'd love to hear from you!  Leave a comment with your expert tips and help a frugal mom out!


  1. You could have decreased the amount of liquid in your yogurt by putting it in a strainer lined with coffee filters. This is how to make Greek style yogurt. If you want more liquid, just add some back.

    1. I saw that idea posted in several comments and I might try that next time. This first time, though, the yogurt was just totally liquid with a little thickness. I don't know if that's normal? I think if I had strained it, I might have ended up with 1 C of yogurt for my efforts, lol!! ;-)

    2. Directions
      .4 cups not ultra pasturized milk, 2tps spoons fresh active plain yogurt

      Put your yogurt on the counter to bring it to room temperature while you do everything else.

      Heat the milk to 185 degrees Fahrenheit, or 85 degrees Celsius. I used a make shift double boiler to do this. If you don't use a double boiler make sure you heat it very slowly on medium to low heat, otherwise the milk will stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. So as you are heating the milk, stir it frequently. Also if the heat is too high the milk will boil over, and make quite a mess.

      If you don't have a thermometer this is the temperature of a low simmer. It is also the temperature that milk starts to froth.

      *Alternately, the milk may also be heated in the microwave. I'd use medium power. If you are doing this, you can go ahead and keep it at a low power and simmer it for 10 minutes as advised in the next step.


      Keep the milk simmering on the stove at 185 degrees Fahrenheit (85 Celsius) for 10 minutes. This is done to cause the setting matrix to be formed, and keeping it at this temperature for 10 minutes will give you the best results.


      Cool the milk to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. (43 degrees Celsius.) Do this using a water bath (a bowl of ice water under your bowl of milk) or just let it sit on the counter for a half an hour or more checking on it periodically, stirring frequently. If will feel warm to the touch, but not hot.


      When it gets to 110, stir in the 2 tablespoons yogurt and the dry milk (if using.)


      Pour the yogurt into whatever container(s) that will work best for the incubation method you are using. See below. I didn't need another container because I used my crockpot.


      Keep the yogurt at about 110-100 degrees Fahrenheit (43-37 degrees Celsius) for 7 hours minimum. If you prefer your yogurt more tangy go longer, up to about 12 hours.

      I used a rice cooker w/ hotwater 110 degrees I checked once w/ candy therm. turned on warm until 110 and closed lid wrapped in towel and perfest yogurt next mourn! I strained it to make very thick greek like.

    3. 2table spoons yogurt not tsp~sorry let me know how it turns out!goodluck


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