Ever have kefir? That milk-shake-ish yogurt-y drink? The grand experiment last night turned out something like that. It isn’t kefir, because the starter was yogurt, not kefir granules BUT at least it is tasty. This stuff is going to make some rocking strawberry smoothies.
Spent a little quality time yesterday browsing the recipes I’d found for making yogurt in a crock pot, and cobbled a few together. Sounded easy – put half gallon of milk in a crock pot on low, and take it from there. The only problem is that it took double the time to hit the requisite 170 degrees than it did in the recipes. Didn’t want to kick it up from low to high. My crock pot only has those two settings, and high will bring stuff to a boil…no bueno for yogurt making.
After you get the milk to the magic 170 (to kill any unwanted germs and denature some of the proteins, according to wikipedia), the milk is supposed to cool again so you don’t assassinate the yogurt cultures from your starter…just like you don’t want to use water that is too hot when you are making bread so you don’t kill your yeast.
I also added about 3 Tbs vanilla and 1/4 cup brown sugar with the culture. That might be part of the problem, I dunno, but I’m sure that is why the milk-shake-y stuff still tastes so good.
I think temperature was my real mistake, though. It was getting late, I was really sleepy, and rushed it a bit. I think the milk was too hot when I added the starter, thus the lackluster result. It is a little tangy, so some of the wee beasties must have survived. Oh well, live, learn and start earlier in the day next time.
And there will be a next time, I promise you. If my calculations are correct, home-made yogurt will be about half the cost of store-bought. Less than half if I can learn the strain-it thing and get it to a greek yogurt consistency. As much as we eat of the stuff, that can only be a good thing, and worth having a crock pot doing it’s thing in the background every now and then.
Meanwhile, this is going to make some rocking strawberry smoothies.