Monday, July 22, 2013

Crock Pot Yogurt Test

    Yogurt. There once was a time I thought this odd dairy culture concoction was for strange people with no cooking skills. I have grown since then, realizing the amazing benefits of bacteria and lactose blended and grown into this amazing probiotic wonder. My confession is: we consume a quart of yogurt daily. Yes, yogurt has become a staple in this gym-fanatical home.
I have tested powdered cultures. For me, using previous yogurt batches is more efficient.
     That in mind, one realizes it much more cost effective and healthy to culture their own yogurt than purchase that much at a time. In an effort to streamline my dairy chores, research led me to 'crock pot culturing'. Skeptical of change and anything too easy, I bit the bullet, accepted the challenge and ran a few test cultures of my own.
I had forgotten to take pictures when making the yogurt. Here the crock has a roast in it:)
     I gathered my crock pot, gallon of fresh milk, and a culture starter (generally a pint of prepared yogurt with live cultures). All of my research offered common directions which I followed during this first trial.

Crock Pot Cultured Yogurt

      Add one gallon of fresh milk to a standard crock pot. Set the temperature to high allowing milk to come to 180 degrees; it should take approximately 2 hours. Turn off crock pot.
      Once heated, cool the milk to 110 degrees. If the crock removes from the base, you may set it in a sink of cool water to speed the process. Return the crock to its base but leave it off. 
       Add the culture to warm milk, stirring gently but thoroughly. 
       Allow the milk and culture to set undisturbed 6 to 12 hours. If the kitchen is cool, consider wrapping the crock with a heavy bath towel to insulate. 
       Once the yogurt has cultured, set it in jars and refrigerate or freeze it, if desired.
In a smaller, one piece, crock pot.
      Easy enough, but not something I would likely do regularly. Did it work? Yes. The yogurt turned out..the second time. Unfortunately for me, the first time around I lost track of my task letting the milk cook to the point of no return. There are few things nastier than scrubbing scalded, cooked milk from a large white crock pot. I made a total of five cultures using this method and each time struggled with meeting the initial temp and then cooling effectively.
      This in mind, and knowing I have made milk on the stove top for years, I will not likely use this method for culturing my yogurt. I found heating the milk in the crock took way too long and was much harder to cool down again. If I had been using a crock that wasn't removable, this would have been much less pleasant. Do I recommend this method? Sure. If you are careful to watch the milk preventing over cooking, or if your crock has timer settings or heat controls, then go for it.
       What about you? Have you tested this? 

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