It’s unofficially the end of summer: Labour Day is here. I feel I’m being ironic right now, writing this post on the day celebrating the Toronto Typographical Union’s win on reducing work hours. But then again, this is not my job 🙂

I recently started thinking about my personal consumption of goods and I’ve developed an affection for multipurpose items that I already own. Today, I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite slowcooker use: yogurt-making!

I haven’t invented the principle. You can surely find many recipes online. Here’s what I’ve been doing for the last 2 years. No need for fancy cultures. All you need is:

  • 1 L milk
  • 1 Tbsp probiotic plain yogurt (room temperature)
  • slowcooker
  • thermometer
  • towels

You can choose to make more or less yogurt. The reason why I like this quantity is because I use a square candy thermometer that I lay flat in the bottom of my crockpot and I like the convenience of being able to read the dial without moving it. Simple laziness. I personaly use 1% or 2% milk but you can use skim or whole too. This recipe works for previously frozen milk.

Instructions: Pour milk in slowcooker. Heat on high until it gets to 185F. This should take approximately 1.5h. Carefully let the milk stay between 185F and 199F for roughly 15-20 min to increase thickness of final product. Don’t let it go over that temperature otherwise you’ll get weird runny watery milk instead of yogurt. Unplug the crockpot and set dial to warm up (this might be useful later). Let the milk cool down to 110F. Long way: simply remove the lid and wait. Quick way: if you can remove the ceramic part of your slowcooker, remove lid, and put the pot in an ice bath (to decrease the chance of breaking your pot, make sure the water level is equal to the level of liquid inside). Once you reach the 110F (not more than 119F, not less than 100F), whisk in your yogurt. Put the lid back on, put the pot in the metal frame if you need to and wrap the entire thing in towels (I use two). Place your bundle somewhere it won’t get disturbed, preferably draft-free. You want the mixture to incubate at roughly 100F for 6-8hrs. The longer you let it, the tangier the taste will be. Worried the temperature has dropped too much? Plug your crockpot for a few minutes to warm up the liquid a little (this is why you want to have previously turned the dial to keep-warm mode before wrapping it). After the prefered amount of time has passed (6h for me), unwrap the slowcooker and give it a little shake, just to confirm you have a nice ferm content. Successful? At this point, you can either put the pot directly in the fridge or strain the content in a cheese-cloth-like fabric to get a thicker yogurt (30 min of straining will give you greek-like yogurt, 12-24h: cream cheese). Store in glass jar(s) in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. Unsuccessful? Bake something like bread of muffins with your watery non-yogurt mixture. This happens. Be more careful with temperatures next time!

What to do with the whey (yellow-ish byproduct of straining)? More baking! Substitute water or milk in a bread (or muffins, etc.) recipe. It will give it a mild sourdough taste. Bonus: extra protein! Do I need to keep buying probiotic yogurt to start my homemade yogurt? Nope! Simply freeze a Tbsp of your freshly made yogurt and use it thawed in your next batch 🙂 I recommend freezing at least 2 starters in case something goes wrong with a batch. It happens. Don’t like plain yogurt? Stir in fruits, jams, honey or maple syrop!!!

There are many other ways of making yogurt without a yogurt-maker. Try one and amaze yourself!

Do you use your slowcooker to make something unusual? I’d love to hear about it!