February 13, 2012

COOK! | DIY Homemade Crock Pot Yogurt: Round Two {Better, But Not 100%}

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.
If you missed my earlier post about trying my hand at DIY Homemade Crock Pot Yogurt, you can read it (and have a few laughs at my utter FAIL, lol!) right here.  

Well, my friends, I've never been one to let one failure keep me from trying again so about a week or so ago, I pulled out my Crock Pot and started up a second batch of homemade yogurt:

You'll notice that I've got some powdered milk on the side there.  After reading through the comments at the recipe post, I decided to try using powdered milk (2 TBSP added the 4 oz starter) mixed in with the yogurt starter as a means of creating a thicker, more custard-like yogurt.

And here's the cool part....IT WORKED!

{Imagine a very cool picture of thick, custardy, pile-on-your-spoon yogurt in 3...2...1...!}

Alas, I have no finished product picture; the morning the yogurt was finished (I let it sit in the towel-wrapped Crock Pot overnight) was a very busy Saturday morning here with a couple of extra kids underfoot.   While the kids played and my husband and I organized our weekend schedule over coffee, I even added the extra step of letting the whey from the yogurt drain off by lining a colander with coffee filters and letting the yogurt sit in there over an empty stockpot.  That worked really well; I was surprised at how much whey/liquid there was.

It was what I did to the yogurt after I drained it that makes me really, really, REALLY wish I had snapped a finished product picture because I *kind of* screwed it up.


Because I like my yogurt plain vanilla with just a bit of sweetness, I mixed in both 1/4 TSP of pure vanilla extract to the finished yogurt PLUS about 3 TBSP of sugar.  Then I stashed it in the refrigerator, pleased as punch at my own frugal DIY-ness.  Go Mare!

It didn't even cross my mind that by adding MORE sugar (ie: FOOD) to the active yogurt that I might upset the balance and create a perfect scenario for those active cultures to start multiplying again.  And again.  And...well, you get my drift.

So imagine my surprise when I took out the container late on Saturday to have a little protein snackeroo in the afternoon and found that my delightfully thick yogurt had become runny and thin.

Lesson LEARNED!  ;-)

It wasn't a total loss this time, though; although it was thin and runny, it was still tasty.  I mixed it into my oatmeal in the mornings and my hubs, stalwart frugalman that he is, just drank it straight up as a snack.

I just filled up my Crock Pot again a few minutes ago; today, I'm trying  DIY Homemade Crock Pot Yogurt, Round Three.  Here's the takeaways I have from Round Two:

Things I Did Differently that WORKED:

1.  Monitor the temperature of the milk.  I used a meat thermometer (a candy thermometer would have been  even better but I don't have one) to make sure the milk had cooled to around 110 degrees Fahrenheit before adding the yogurt starter.  Because every slow cooker/Crock Pot heats a little differently (faster or slower), the time it takes for your whole milk to scald and cool can vary from the guidelines in the recipe.  A thermometer makes it easier to pinpoint the ideal time to add the starter yogurt.

2.  Add powdered milk to the starter.  Again, I read this in the comments of the recipe post.

3.  Drain whey from yogurt.  All I did was line my colander with coffee filters, scoop the yogurt into it, and put the whole thing over a stock pot.  There was a lot of whey that drained off and I simply poured that over my dog's food.  He was delighted at the treat. ;-)

Things I Did Differently that DID NOT WORK:

1.  Add sugar (!) to the finished yogurt.  Yeah, I won't be doing that again.  All I did was feed those cultures.  This time, I will simply leave the drained, unsweetened, unflavored yogurt as is in my refrigerator until I plan to eat it - then I'll add whatever flavoring/sweetening to it.

I'm hoping the third time is a charm!  This time, I'll be sure to take pictures for the extra steps (powdered milk and draining) as well as the finished product.  I'll share the end result with you next Monday.

To everyone who commented with ideas and tips for success on my first DIY Homemade Yogurt post, thank you!  I read them all and I appreciate your frugal wisdom!

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