What if I told you that you could make your own delicious, thick, and creamy yogurt at home for 50% less than what you pay at the store?
It’s true – and all you need to do it are three simple ingredients and your slow cooker!
About a month ago, I shared recipes for naturally-sweetened Vanilla, Strawberry, or Blueberry Drinkable Yogurt in the Crock Pot. We (especially the kids) still enjoy the drinkable variety, but I really wanted to find a method of thickening it to create a spoonable yogurt as well.
After doing some research, I landed on grass-fed gelatin*as a thickener. This post from Carrie over at Deliciously Organic describes how to use gelatin when making yogurt in a yogurt maker. I had to experiment a bit with the amount of gelatin and at what point in the process to add it to the milk since I use a crock pot instead. A little trial and error and – Tadah! – the easiest ever recipe for perfectly creamy homemade yogurt!
* Does eating gelatin give you the heebie jeebies? I wasn’t so sure either, but this article about the historical uses of gelatin (from healthy, pastured animals) to aid digestion, optimize bone and joint health, and to help combat allergies really got me thinking. In addition to the scientific stuff, utilizing more of the animal resonates with my desire to embrace whole, healthy foods in their created form as a gift from God.
Still not convinced? Use dry milk powder as a thickener instead (I would estimate 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup would be needed for this recipe).
This recipe makes a delicious plain yogurt, but my favorite way to eat it is with a few drops of pure vanilla extract and a little honey or pure maple syrup for a lightly sweetened, vanilla flavor.
The consistency is very much like the European style plain yogurt I used to buy from Trader Joe’s. The creamy thickness holds up nicely to stir-ins and toppings, making it an easy and healthy breakfast staple at our house. More gelatin (or dry milk powder) could be added if you’re looking for a stiffer, Greek yogurt texture.
It can also be packed for lunch, either plain or with chia seeds, trail mix, or other healthy additions – Probiotics, antioxidant-rich super fruits, omega-3’s and fiber, all one tiny jar!
Ready to make a batch of creamy, homemade yogurt with virtually no effort, and save money at the same time? Here you go!
- 1/2 gallon organic milk
- 3 tsp grass-fed gelatin
- 6oz plain organic yogurt with live cultures (check the label) as a starter culture
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup or honey
- 1 1/2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- Step 1: Pour 1/2 gallon of milk into the Crock Pot and cook for 3 hrs on low setting, or until the mixture reaches a temperature of between 150-175 degrees.
- Step 2: Ladle 1/2 to 1 cup of heated milk into a bowl and add gelatin, 1 tsp at a time, whisking constantly so that no clumps form. Return milk-gelatin mixture back to Crock Pot and give it a good whisk (If you mixed them gradually, you shouldn't have clumps; but, if you do, use a fine mesh strainer to pour the milk-gelatin mixture back in to remove clumps).
- Step 3: Turn Crock Pot off and allow the milk to rest for 2-3 hrs, until the mixture cools to around 110 degrees (if milk is 115 degrees or above, bacteria in the starter can be damaged).
- Step 4: Ladle 1/2 to 1 cup of milk from the Crock Pot into a small bowl and whisk in the yogurt starter. Add this mixture back into the Crock Pot and give it a few gentle stirs. Cover the entire Crock Pot (still turned off) with a couple of large towels or a large blanket, and allow to incubate for 8-12 hours.* (The longer the incubation, the higher the acidity and the more tart the yogurt - I usually incubate for 10-11 hours)
- * I have read from others online that, if the ambient temperature is below 70 degrees or so, it's very hard for the cultures to work during Step 4. If your home is cooler than 70, consider placing an inexpensive painter's light or heat lamp nearby.
- Step 5: Remove about 6oz of the plain yogurt and reserve as a starter for your next batch. Add ingredients for vanilla flavoring if desired. Yogurt will continue to firm up once refrigerated and will keep for a couple of weeks.
- 1. I highly recommend setting a timer for each stage, and using a thermometer to learn exactly how long your own slow cooker takes to reach the designated temperatures.
- 2. I've found that it works well for me to start this around lunch time since I'm usually home in the afternoons to tend to Steps 1 & 2, and the "incubation" (Step 3) can happen overnight.
- 3. If using a lower fat milk, additional gelatin or dry milk powder will be needed to thicken the yogurt sufficiently.
Check out these other great recipes using Homemade Yogurt!
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