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I’ve been making homemade yogurt for about over a year now, ever since Little N was 7 months old. It is relatively simple, albeit a bit time-consuming, to make, it tastes AMAZING, and is incredibly good for you. =)

This process does take 3-4 hours, so make sure you’ve set aside some time before you get started.

You will need:

A crockpot

Milk ( I make 1/2 gallon at a time, with whole, raw milk. You can use any variation you like, but I recommend using the highest quality milk you can find. The better the quality of the milk, the better the yogurt will be for you.)

Yogurt (I use 1 cup of yogurt for my 1/2 gallon. You can change up the ratios, i.e. 1/2 c yogurt for 1 quart milk, etc.)

A candy thermometer

Something to store your yogurt in.

To begin:

Pour your milk cold into your crockpot.

2013-04-30 12.42.40The milk we use is raw, so the cream floats to the top, hence why I’m whisking it.

Crank your crockpot on high and COVER IT.

2013-04-30 12.41.14Don’t touch it. Don’t open it. Leave it alone for at LEAST 1 hour. It really depends on the strength of your crockpot as to how fast the milk will heat up. It may take an hour or two.

Heat your milk to 180-185 degrees. Your kitchen will definitely SMELL like warm milk and the milk will look like it’s about to froth and boil when it’s ready. You DON’T want it to boil. You’ll have to start over.

2013-04-30 12.42.23When your milk hits 180-185 degrees, UNCOVER it and TURN IT OFF. You don’t want it to heat up any more! Whisk and whisk it every 20 minutes or so to get it cool down faster. You want it be between 110-115 degrees. I would recommend starting to check the temperature after about 45 min of cooling and whisking.

While your milk is cooling, pull your yogurt out to come to room temperature. You don’t want to add your yogurt cold into your warm milk, because that will cool it down too much.

2013-04-30 12.43.04You want yogurt that has LOTS of lovely live cultures. They are what will get warm and toasty enough to multiply in your milk to turn it all into yogurt. We get this brand.

Keep checking your yogurt until it reaches between 110-115 degrees. For my crockpot, this usually takes a little over an hour. I figure it cools down at about a degree per minute or so.

2013-04-30 13.46.14When you milk has cooled down to the right temperature, take up your room temperature yogurt and thoroughly whisk it into your milk.

2013-04-30 13.46.332013-04-30 13.46.352013-04-30 13.47.50Once your yogurt and milk are completely incorporated, COVER your crockpot and wrap it in a towel. I’ve known others to wrap their crockpot and THEN place it in the oven. Either way, you just want to incubate it so that your yogurt will stay warm enough long enough to get the live cultures to multiply.

2013-04-30 13.48.51LEAVE your yogurt alone for 10-12 hours. I try to time this so that the yogurt sets up over night and we have fresh yogurt in the morning.

10-12 hours later, uncover your yogurt. This is what ours looks like:

2013-04-30 23.57.40Yes, I know it looks yellow. That’s simply the cream from the whole milk which has again risen to the top. Just can’t help itself, that pesky cream. 😉

It does look like normal yogurt though. See?

2013-04-30 23.57.55Stir your yogurt thoroughly to incorporate the cream and any whey that may have separated.

2013-04-30 23.58.55My husband likes to snitch some yogurt at this point. =)

2013-04-30 23.58.07Then scoop your yogurt out into containers and refrigerate it promptly. This will chill the yogurt and deactivate the live cultures, which will help your yogurt thicken even more.

2013-04-30 23.59.232013-04-30 23.59.33

2013-05-01 00.04.33And there you have it! A half-gallon of yogurt, ready for eating. Since we use raw milk, our yogurt actually doesn’t go bad, because the milk was never heated up or processed. It simply gets more tart the longer it’s in the fridge. However, I don’t think it’s ever taken us longer than 3 weeks to get through a half gallon of yogurt. When we made our yogurt with non-homogenized, lightly pasteurized milk, our yogurt would still last 7-9 days.

The best part about this is I just save a cup of yogurt from my batch to be the starter for my next batch. So other than my first starter, I only ever have to buy milk again in order to have yogurt. We haven’t spent money on yogurt in forever. So this is definitely cost-effective!

Happy yogurt making!