If you’ve never made homemade yogurt, you should. It’s easy and doesn’t have any added sugar (unless you add it), modified milk ingredients, or other added junk. You can even use your crock pot. Read this post for the recipe.
We prefer a thicker yogurt than what comes out of the crock pot, so I drain the whey out for a while. I used to use coffee filters and that took forever. Then I started using a (clean) pillowcase. That worked better but I didn’t like how the seams collected lint in the wash and I had to pick it out before I could use it.
Then I found some large cotton cloths at Walmart (of all places…I don’t go there often), 5 for about $7. I turned 2 of them into yogurt-drainers. I cut about a 1 inch strip off one side and folded it a couple times so it was super skinny and stitched it closed over the original hem, then cut it into shorter strips and sewed them on as loops around the edges of the cloth after I hemmed the cut side. There’s 8 loops around the edges–1 on each corner and 1 on each side.
I use a length of curtain string (not sure what it’s actually called) that doesn’t stretch with loops at both ends and run it through the loops on the cloth and through itself, then hook it over the cabinet knob (sorry, I don’t have any pictures of the hanging part). The whey drips out into a large bowl. When it’s ready, I transfer the yogurt into another bowl and open up the cloth and scrape out the yogurt into jars.
Let’s back up a bit.
When I dump the undrained yogurt out of the crock pot (which often splatters everywhere), there’s usually a layer of yogurt still attached to the bottom of the crock pot. I don’t mix it with the rest because it’s grainy and makes the whole batch grainy. I put it in another container without letting it drip and Sadie usually eats it plain.
I’ve found that the yogurt is a nice texture when it drips for 3-4 hours. I’ve let it go longer before cause I was lazy and I had to stir some whey back in because it was too dry.
I added the whey to the big jar in the fridge. Sadie and Chad like to drink “whey juice” sometimes, and we use it in cooking or baking when we remember or for soaking beans.
I’ve started experimenting with yogurt flavours. I spooned 2 1/2-3 cups into a bowl and added about a 1/4 cup of peach jam. That worked pretty good. I didn’t add any sweetener cause the peach jam already has plenty of sugar. To another bowl of yogurt, I added about a 1/4 cup of plum jam and a tablespoon of honey cause there’s not much sugar in the plum jam. They both came out really nice.
I put some in little containers just cause I had them and it makes for a convenient snack (the labels are just sharpie on scotch tape–they made it through the dishwasher unscathed, yet you can still peel them off).
The rest went into mason jars…whatever sizes I could find (we have a jar issue in this house…there’s either too many empty jars sitting around or there’s not enough jars available. When I can’t find jars, I’m tempted to get out another box from the shed–cause we have TONS–but then where would I put them when I’m done with them?).
For glass jars, I write right on them with the sharpie. It’s pretty easy to clean off, but doesn’t rub off when you touch it unless it’s wet.
That batch yielded 5 pints of yogurt, from 1 gallon of 2-week-old raw milk! (ie. not so nice to drink, but not putrid like pasteurized milk)
Oh, and if you’re using raw milk for the yogurt, try to skim as much cream off as possible before you put it in the crock pot. Whatever cream is left will form a thickened, yellowish layer on top that you can skim out easily with a fork just before you add the starter.
Once the yogurt is out of the cloth, I rinse the cloth off in the sink and throw it in the laundry.
Have you made yogurt yet? Have you made any good flavoured yogurts?