Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The next great food adventure!

So, I tried something new that I had wanted to try before, but always thought you had to have some type of 'special' contraption to make it.  A friend of mine posted about making it in the crock pot and I thought, "No way!!"  So...I googled it.  I stumbled across this recipe for making yogurt *yes, you read that right...YOGURT* in the crock pot.  My friend also posted this recipe.

As I looked over both recipes, I thought...I can totally do this.  It looks like a piece of cake.  So, I went to the store and picked up a half gallon of 2% milk ($1.99) and 32oz container of plain yogurt ($2.69 I believe).  This will be the most expensive batch because from here on out, I can save 1 cup of yogurt from each batch that will get added to the following batch.  Cool, huh?

I started the process at 8pm and based on a little of both recipes, and knowing that my crock pot runs hot, I opted to run it for 2 hours on low. 

After using my food thermometer, it told me that the temp was only at about 140 degrees.  So, I turned it up on high for about another 10-15 minutes just shy of boiling.  I turned it off, leaving the lid off, and every so often walking over to stir it.  After a half hour to 45 minutes, it was ready to add the 1 cup of yogurt *for the live & active cultures* and my 1/2 cup of dry milk. 

Then I put the lid on and wrapped the crock pot.  The whole thing went in the oven.

It stayed in the oven the whole night.  We took the middle kiddo to school and came home to check out the finished product.  All told, our yogurt stayed in the oven for about 9 hours.

Just a note, the yogurt is not as thick as store bought because they use things like pectin to make it thicker.  While it has a 'runnier' consistency, it is still yummy!  You can immediately put in containers and put it in the fridge, or do what we did.  We made up flavors right then and there.  Since I have home canned fruit, we opted for some peaches and cherries.  We also decided to use homemade raspberry jam since we had it on hand.  In the half a cereal bowl that I had left after filling 9 pint jars, I used vanilla extract and a touch of splenda *you probably could use stevia or another alternative sweetener like honey*. 

So here is what we got for $1.99 *basically*:  the green lid container is my 1 cup for the next batch, my half a bowl full of vanilla yogurt, 2 pints of peach yogurt, 2 pints of cherry, and 1 pint of raspberry.  Not bad if I do say so myself.  My girls get 1/2 cup of yogurt as a serving.  That means there is 21 servings for now and 2 more that will be used in the next batch.

The next adventure was going to be using 1% or skim milk to make our yogurt next.  Well, another friend has already mastered that and I was there to see her pull it out of the oven.  It looked great!  I had told her about the yogurt adventure earlier today and she decided to give it a whirl.  The other difference she had was that she put it in a pot and heated the milk up on the stove *stirring often* and achieving the 180 degrees.  She may very well be a new convert as well.  It also seemed that her kids loved it as much as mine did!

This is such a neat adventure and I'm so glad that I've learned about it.  I'm excited to try new flavors and experiment with this new found love.

**Edited to add:  Safeway has their sale ad out for next week *tomorrow* and their half gallon of milk is $.99!  If their full gallons were on sale for $1.57, that would be the better route, but $.99 for all of that yogurt?  Crazy!!  Also...frozen yogurt pops?  Yum! 

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