It seems like every time I tell someone that I’ve made yogurt at home, they’re very excited about it and want to know how. It’s simple and very inexpensive. I use a slow cooker, but you can also use a heavy pot wrapped in a heating pad.
Pour a half gallon of whole milk into the slow cooker. Turn onto low setting for two and a half hours. Turn off and unplug the slow cooker and wrap in a large bath towel – you want good insulation. I wound up using two to wrap around the sides and also over the lid. Let that sit for another three hours. Thoroughly stir in one container (8oz) of the plainest yogurt you can find. To avoid impossible-to-smooth lumps, scoop the container of yogurt into a small bowl, then stir in a few spoonfuls of milk. Keep adding milk until the yogurt has thinned out considerably, then pour the contents of the bowl into the slow cooker and stir that in completely. I used plain Greek yogurt that listed only one ingredient – milk. Re-wrap your slow cooker and leave at least 8 hours or overnight. TA-DA! You have homemade yogurt.
When I made it, the upper level was a bit softer than the lower level, but it still held its shape when scooped with a spoon. DO NOT stir the yogurt to try to balance this out, because the whole thing will turn into thick soup, and will not hold its shape at all. I wanted some very firm, almost “dry” yogurt for tzatziki sauce, so I lined a sifter – the simple bowl-shaped kind with a handle, not a flour sifter – with cheesecloth, placed it over a large bowl to catch the whey, filled it with the top layer of yogurt, folded over the cheesecloth, and put a bowl on top of the yogurt for some pressure. I tried adding a can of beans on top but that threatened to make the top of the yogurt squish out because I filled it a little too full. The bowl by itself was just enough. I let it sit while prepping and grating the cucumber, and by the time I was done it was the consistency of room temp cream cheese.
I got the half gallon of milk on sale (88 cents); ditto for the yogurt container (49 cents). That means I wound up with 72 oz of yogurt for $1.48 (including sales tax), or just a smidge over two cents an ounce. Store brand el-cheapo yogurt is about ten cents an ounce. OH YEAH. *does a little dance*
It was also DELICIOUS. It was not quite as tangy as sour cream, slightly sweet (that milk-type of sweet, not fruit-sweet), creamy… Wonderful. I definitely recommend trying it even if it’s just to say that you made it. Add fruit, make tzatziki, put it into cakes, add it to sauces, freeze it in an ice cream maker, use it for smoothies, dollop it on granola, drain it with cheesecloth after adding some herbs and spread it on toast like cheese, or just snarf it up plain like I do. Yum yum yum.