Crock-Pot Yogurt

February 18, 2010

in Appetizers & Misc., DIY & Crafts, Fermentation, Recipes

In this post, I will be sharing a step-by step tutorial on the making of homemade yogurt using a crock-pot. Trust me on this one, as I grew up in the Soviet Azerbaijan, where the only way to get yogurt was to either make it yourself or buy it homemade at a farmer’s market. Sweetened, stiff supermarket yogurt did not exist, and yet homemade plain yogurt was a crucial ingredient in nearly everything and anything.

The boughten supermarket yogurt in America is not yogurt as I know it, especially since most of the time it contains added pectin to prevent the natural accumulation of whey on the surface which could cause the American consumers to think that their yogurt is going bad. As a result, the texture of much of the American yogurt is unnaturally stiff – not at all like nature intended, not to mention that fresh yogurt is actually sweet and mild, and only grows tarter with time. Like with most foods, the only way for me to obtain the yogurt that is as good as I remember it is to make it myself. And it couldn’t be easier.

Now to the mechanics of it – not only is making yogurt elementary, it’s also half the cost. All you ever need to buy is milk, using the remainder of your own previous batch of yogurt for inoculation. Yogurt makes yogurt. No fancy mail-order cultures need.

Now let’s do the simple math:

2 qt of organic yogurt: $8.00 (roughly)

2 qt of organic homemade yogurt: $3.50 (the cost of a half a gallon of organic milk)

How much more persuasion do you need?

Any store-bought yogurt can be used as starter (including flavored yogurts and yogurts with thickeners like pectin) as long as the ingredient list includes the active live culture of lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus. It is the activity if these two types of bacteria that turns milk into yogurt. Be sure that at least the words “live cultures” are present on the label. Choose the smallest container you can find as you will only be needing a couple of tablespoons.

The below method uses a crock-pot. If you don’t have a crock-pot, check out alternative incubation methods here.

Let’s see how it’s done:

Note: Some recipes recommend that you sterilize your equipment but I found it to be entirely redundant.

I start with whole milk. Do not use milk that is a starting to turn sour.

crock-pot yogurt recipe

A 2-quart crock pot is ideal for 2 quarts of milk.

Add milk to the crock-pot, cover, and turn the dial to low. Allow to heat until the temperature reaches 180 to 190 degrees. This is done to create a sterile medium to be inoculated with the bacteria your “starter” yogurt. Note that die-hard raw-food enthusiasts will tell you to use raw milk and skip this step, merely heating it to 110 (which is the temperature you want your yogurt to be when you inoculate it). I do not recommend skipping this step when using raw milk, unless you are ready for a lifetime of inconsistent results (that is, a batch after batch of thin or completely failed yogurt). It’s just not worth it.

I use a digital thermometer with an alarm that beeps when your milk is at the right temperature, but you can also use a regular meat thermometer for this.

Note that the heating time will vary vastly from model to model.

Once your milk reaches 180 degrees (if you catch it at 190, that’s perfectly fine too), let it cool for about three hours, or until it cools down to 105-111 degrees (again the time it takes for milk to cool down depends on your model). This is the single most important number you need to remember – go hotter and you fail.

Once my milk has cooled down to 105-111 degrees, I like to skim off the tough, dry skin that has formed on top. This skin is formed by the cream (i.e. the fat) in the non-homogenized milk that I use for my yogurt floating to the top during the heating (while removing fat from food is not usually my way of doing things, I find the chunks of skin in my yogurt downright repulsive). Note that you are likely to not have this experience if you are using standard homogenized milk.

See, I am skimming it off.

There’s still some left, so I am going to skim that off as well.

And now it looks like this. A few tiny puddles of fat on the surface are fine – just not the dry skin.

Remove about a cup of warm milk into a separate cup.

Add 2 T of plain yogurt (you are going to have to buy some to begin with, but as long as you never stop making yogurt, as I haven’t stopped ever since I began making my own this past summer, you’ll never need to buy any more, always using a bit of your own old batch). Take care to mix it in well with a whisk.

Resist the temptation to add more culture (finished yogurt) to your milk. More culture will not lead to thicker yogurt, but, in fact, do the opposite. Yogurt is made of living bacteria which do best multiplying if allowed adequate lebensraum, or living space.

Pour your milk-yogurt mixture back into the crock-pot and stir it thoroughly into the rest of the milk using a whisk to assure that the bacteria in the yogurt colonizes the milk entirely and completely. Be sure to STIR FROM SIDE TO SIDE and UP AND DOWN, and not in a circle like you usually do. This is the way to stir milk whenever any form of cheesemaking is involved, by the way.

Now turn on the light in your oven (but leave the oven off), and place your crock-pot inset in it. Leave overnight. Do not disturb the milk after this point, as doing so will interfere with it setting and give you a thinner product.

Fast-forward to the next day. Running to the oven the following morning to see if your yogurt turned out is so exciting – it’s very much like looking inside your stocking on Christmas morning (the experience of joy and anticipation I can only compare to heading out chicken butchering or deer hunting).

There are three things to be aware of at this point:

1. If your yogurt is still thin – DON’T PANIC. PUT IT BACK IN AND CHECK BACK IN A FEW HOURS, AND UP TO 24. The yogurt that failed to set likely just needs more time. At least six to eight hours are needed for yogurt to set, and it could even take longer.

2. The longer the yogurt sits at room temperature, the tarter it will become as the bacteria continues to produce more and more acid. If you like it tart, leave it to incubate for 24 hours.

3. Some whey (i.e. the water in the milk) is likely to pool on top. The longer the yogurt sits, the more whey will seep out, as the yogurt structure is rather unstable and loses water easily. This is perfectly normal and is not a problem – you can stir it back in or pour it off carefully, and you can even strain your yogurt through a kitchen towel to make Greek-style yogurt.

Do you see how incredibly thick this is? Notice the indentation left behind by the spoon. Be sure to give some to your kids at this point – the sweetness of the fresh yogurt is like nothing else.

I then spoon the finished yogurt into a half-gallon jar with the help of a canning funnel to minimize the mess, and keep it in the fridge. Your yogurt will continue to thicken and grow tarter in the fridge.

Homemade yogurt will keep for up to a week.

What to do if your yogurt fails: Do not despair, curse me, or throw it away! It is now a perfect base for making homemade ricotta! Ricotta, you see, is nothing but milk that has been heated to the scalding point and to which acid has been added in the form of either buttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar, or yogurt (which is the traditional way of doing it in Azerbaijan) to cause the whey to separate from the curd. The curd part is then drained of most of the whey through a kitchen towel, muslin cloth, or pantyhose (you got that right). Do not use regular store-bought cheesecloth as it is not dense enough and you will lose too much of the curd.

To do so, place the crock-pot’s inset back into its base and turn the dial to high. Heat until the contents look like this:

Note how the big lump of white curd is visibly separating from the greenish, watery whey.

Now set a colander over a bowl,

Line the colander with a towel,

Pour the entire contents of the crock-pot in,

And allow to drain for a couple of hours (you may choose to drain it for a longer or shorter period, depending on how dry you like your ricotta).

See? As Jacob’s dad says, problems are opportunities!

Possible uses: Yogurt is not only for granola! Consider using it in one of the following recipes from my Driftless-Transcaucasian kitchen:

Garlic-Fiend Yogurty Ranch

Dovga: Azerbaijani Yogurt Cream Soup

(Mostly) Azerbaijani Hingal

Oladyi: Russian Yogurt Pancakes

Or, try this other yogurt soup recipe from my fellow Azerbaijani-American blogger:

Kelekosh

Crock-Pot Yogurt

This recipe calls for 2 quarts (1 half-gallon) of milk and yields nearly 2 quarts of yogurt.

  • 2 quarts milk (whole, 2%, skim, raw, or ultra-pasteurized will all work)
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt which lists ACTIVE LIVE CULTURES on the label (either regular or Greek)

You will also need a crock-pot (2-quart capacity is ideal) and a thermometer for this – instant-read, dial, and regular meat thermometers all work, as long as they can read the temperature as low as 105 degrees F.

Heat the milk in the crock-pot until it reaches at least 180 degrees F (depending on your crock-pot model, this could take between two and four hours). Do not skip this step, as it is crucial to create a sterile medium for the yogurt bacteria, especially if you are using raw milk. Omitting this could cause your yogurt to be thin or fail altogether.

Allow the milk to cool down to 105-111 degrees F (110 is ideal).

Remove 1 C of the milk into a separate bowl and stir in the yogurt (this is done to bring the yogurt to the temperature of the milk). Stir the milk-and-yogurt mixture back into the rest of the milk in the crock-pot. Be sure to stir FROM SIDE TO SIDE and UP AND DOWN and NOT in a circle, as it is our goal for the culture to penetrate fully into every bit of the milk. Check the temperature once more with your thermometer. If the temperature is too low, just heat your milk slowly back to 105-111 degrees.

Remove the crock-pot inset from its base and transfer it into your oven. Turn the oven light on while leaving the oven OFF. This will create just enough heat for the yogurt to incubate. Do not disturb the yogurt for at least 6 hours, and up to 24.

Crock-Pot Yogurt Troubleshooting FAQ

My yogurt is still milk.

Either your yogurt wasn’t warm enough during the incubation (your house was too cold, your oven light is not powerful enough, or you brought the temperature too far down before adding the starter), or you haven’t given it enough time.

The first thing to do is to allow the yogurt to incubate longer, and if it is still milk in a few hours, reheat it gently only until it reaches 105-110 degrees. Incubate the yogurt again, but this time try a different incubation routine.

My yogurt has some yellow-greenish liquid on top.

This is perfectly normal. This liquid is nothing other than whey – the water naturally contained in the milk. Whey always seeps out of yogurt to some degree, and the longer your yogurt sits, the more whey will accumulate on the surface. Pour it off or gently stir it back in.

My yogurt is thicker towards the top and thinner on the bottom.

Yes, this is normal.

I forgot my yogurt for 24 hours.

No problem. It is still perfectly safe to eat.

My yogurt tastes too mild! Can I add something to make it more acidic?

This is entirely normal. In fact, fresh yogurt is quite naturally sweet and mild and only develops its characteristic tang with time due to the rise in the level of the lactic acid excreted by the yogurt bacteria as it feeds on the sugar in milk (lactose). If you want your yogurt tangier right away, allow it to incubate for 24 hours instead of 6.

My yogurt turned thin after I stirred it!

You bet it did. By stirring, you break the structure of the curd, effectively thinning your yogurt. Don’t stir it – just spoon it out.

I read that you can add powdered milk to yogurt to make it thicker.

I am scandalized! But yes, you can. You and Google are on your own with this one though.

Can I sweeten this yogurt?

You bet you can. Add a little sweetener (honey, sugar, etc) as you are heating the milk up and proceed as usual. But just so you know, sweetened yogurt is totally Western and I don’t get it at all.

Can I make Greek-style yogurt at home?

You better believe it. Greek-style yogurt is nothing other than ordinary yogurt strained to a desired consistency. Just strain your yogurt through a kitchen towel (I don’t recommend ordinary cheesecloth because I find it too thin) until it’s as thick as you want it to be. Watch it closely though, or it will turn into yogurt cheese.

If you wish to gain a deeper understanding of the scientific processes behind yogurt-making, or if you don’t have a crock-pot or a light in your oven and/or would like to try different incubation methods, be sure to read my extraordinarily thorough, highly-educated post here:

Foolproof Homemade Yogurt: Science, Technique, and Troubleshooting

If you are looking for more uses for plain yogurt, be sure to check out the post I put together for the purpose:

How to Cook with Plain Yogurt: Uses, Recipes, Ideas

Still got questions? PLEASE DO NOT POST THEM UNTIL YOU’VE READ THROUGH ALL THE COMMENTS FIRST. Most of the questions have already been answered there, and you may even learn some new tips as an added bonus.

{ 198 comments }

1 Michelle Linscott February 19, 2010 at 6:02 am

Would you get the same thick, lucious results using an organic 2% or skim milk?
Thanks!

2 Sofya March 12, 2012 at 9:22 am

Yes, it will work with both 2% and skim milk.

3 Phoo-D February 21, 2010 at 4:21 pm

I’ve been thinking about buying a crock-pot, and this would be a very good reason to own one! I’ve avoided buying an expensive ‘yogurt maker’ because they make such small containers. We eat way too much yogurt to use one of those!

4 Dannell June 27, 2013 at 1:46 pm

The crockpot she is using only cost her $20. Thats how much I paid for mine.. Stop and walmart and get their small tiny one.

5 Jason and Steve February 22, 2010 at 8:33 pm

We were gifted a yogurt maker a few years ago and it sat for a good while before we dusted it off and put it to use. It worked, more or less, but it seemed fussy and we abandoned it. Now that we’re trying to eliminate plastic waste, we’re back to making our own yogurt and kefir. Our oven seems to be at a perfect temperature for yogurt making (so long as we leave it in the off position). The crock-pot method looks worth a try. Your pictures suggest the yogurt is very thick, which I love!

Cheers,
Steve & Jason
http://yourfoodchoices.wordpress.com

6 A February 23, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Hi Sofya,
I just found your blog and absolutely love it. This post intrigued me since I’ve been wanting to make yogurt but was always intimidated by it. I do have a couple of questions though.
1. What does the light bulb being on add to the yogurt making process?
2. Is any yogurt good enough to mix in?

Thanks,
Anna

7 Sofya February 24, 2010 at 12:50 am

To answer your questions:

1)The light bulb makes the oven ever-so-slightly warm – just warm enough for the yogurt to incubate. Often, when you are baking bread, they (well meaning, experienced home bread bakers) will tell you to stick your dough in the oven with the light on – the same thing essentially.
2) Yes, any yogurt should be good enough from what I read – even if it has pectin, etc, because the concentration of those additives will be so small in the final product that it will make very little difference. That’s the theory. Myself, I have only tried one kind of yogurt – the organic Seven Star brand of yogurt. But I would absolutely go ahead and try whatever is available. Definitely doesn’t need to be organic or anything.

8 vince February 28, 2010 at 7:39 am

Sophia
I have been hearing rave reviews about your blog and today had my first look. How delightful!
Lovely photos ,witty comments and detailed directions.
I intend to be a regular visitor. ( to home and website)
Grandpa Vincentio

9 Sofya February 28, 2010 at 8:12 am

Well welcome Vince! Now you will be tempted to come for supper more often!

10 Pat Mayhew March 7, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Love the luscious creamy thick yogurt pictures! Please post or point out where to find good recipes for using the yogurt. I want to try it, but only know about eating yogurt with fruit and cereal like we Americans do.
Thanks,
Pat

11 Sofya March 12, 2012 at 10:45 am

See the list of suggested recipes at the bottom of the post above.

12 Jillian March 9, 2010 at 8:45 am

I have only ever heard of leaving the oven light on if you have a gas stove. The pilot light keeps the oven temp around 90 degrees, which is perfect for rising bread or making yogurt. I have an electric stove with an incadescent lightbulb in it, which doesn’t give off that kind of heat. I’m wondering if the warm crockpot insert has more to do with the consistant heat than the oven light does.
I have 2 ovens (read as: I love to bake). One is a small convection oven that we use partly in place of a microwave. It is able to be set below 150 degrees, and I am able to monitor the temp easily.
I really like the crockpot idea! My crockpot insert isn’t removable though, so I think I’ll try warming up my ceramic “sauerkraut” crock and making the yogurt in that!

13 Sofya March 12, 2012 at 9:35 am

Incandescent light DOES make a difference in my oven by making it significantly warmer, so it is not merely the constant heat of the inset alone. Use the inset-only on the counter top and it might fail. However, you can wrap it in a thick bath towel and leave it on a counter instead and that will do the same thing.

14 Jillian March 9, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Well, that is cool to know! I consider myself pretty good bread baker, but I never would have tried this. Thanks:)

15 A April 27, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Hi Sofya,
I tried making this yogurt a few times but I must be missing something. I tried Greek-style yogurt (Fage) at 2%. Could that be an issue? Also, how important is temperature? I added the yogurt when the temp was 108 degrees and after I took it out of the oven in the morning, it was still milk. (Once I added it when it was still 180, so I know that’s definitely an issue and I should read directions better.) Also, in one of the comments above, I see that you’re listing 1T of yogurt and not 2 as in your recipe. Am I using the wrong yogurt to start with, or is the temp really that big of a thing to stick to, or is it something else?
Thanks for your help in troubleshooting yogurt (LOL!)

Anna

16 Sofya March 12, 2012 at 9:45 am

Both 1 or 2 T should work, it makes hardly any difference.

Most likely your oven light does not have quite the power that mine has. Try wrapping it in a thick bath towel next time before putting it in the oven (don’t worry, as long as the oven remains OFF, the light itself does not make it hot enough for the towel to ignite).

Any brand of yogurt should work for incubation as long as the ingredient list on the back includes the words “LIVE CULTURES.” The two cultures necessary for your yogurt to be able to work as starter are “lactobacillus bulgaricus” and “streptococcus thermophilus.”

17 A April 27, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Thanks! I will give it a try. I generally use whole milk with a crock pot. The first time I made it, it came out very loose, but more like a yogurt than milk. I suppose I could have strained it and gotten ricotta, but I can’t imagine using essentially a half gallon of ricotta. I’m definitely in this to “win”, and it’s one of my food goals for the year.

Thanks again,
Anna

18 Sofya April 27, 2010 at 10:07 pm

I think your only pitfall was the temperature. Also note that I remove the skin/film (the “penka” stuff that everyone always hated) and discard it – if stirred in, it 1)affects the texture – makes a greasy film float on the top 2)creates unpleasant lumps in the yogurt, so you don’t get a smooth product you are after. Note that I use non-homogenized milk, but I think that same thing happens with homogenized milk as well. Note that you can’t strain it and get ricotta without heating it to separate the curd from the whey first.

19 Ilana April 28, 2010 at 1:22 am

Sofya, thanks for the recipe and the encouragement, I started making yogurt regularly since you posted the “tutorial”. I make it in a stainless steel pot and get fabulous results, for half a gallon as well as for quarter of gallon, and with whole milk for the kids as well as with skim (1%) milk. I don’t have a slow cooker, so I heat the milk on the stove and leave it in the oven for the fermentation.
I also heat milk in microwave oven in a glassware when at my workplace (they are used to my making-from-scratch attitude towards food and often benefit from it), and then leave it to ferment on my warm computer wrapped loosely in some cloth (see what happens when they let woman to a computer :) ).

At first, I tried to play with temperature for few times, and it led me to making ricotta, which is wonderful from whole milk, and still good from 1% milk.

[to Anna: it makes far less ricotta than half a gallon, since you drain the whey out, which is the most of your volume.]

At my workplace I don’t use a thermometer, but feeling by touch (from my experience from home) and it haven’t let me down so far, so the temp. range must be wider than 111-113F.

Anyway, I and my whole family say THANK YOU to you .

Ilana.

20 livingbythelake June 4, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Hi Sofya,
I found your blog recently because it got profiled in the Chicago Reader. I finally tried the crock pot yogurt and it turned out great! The venison with blue cheese is next on my list :)

btw, my grandma lived in Viroqua and I have lots of relatives in the area – I love visiting them and getting out of the city from time to time…

Happy birthday!
Stephanie

21 Angie July 20, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Sofya, what is the brand of your digital thermometer? Where did you purchase it? Have you had good luck with it?

22 Sofya July 20, 2010 at 9:44 pm

I bought the whatever generic stuff they had at Walmart, so I think that brand is called “mainstays” or something like that. It works incredibly well for about 2.5 years then you need to replace it. Because I use them, at times, several times a week (for different things), I really don’t mind replacing it for a little over $10. It has a timer that goes off when your stuff reaches the right temp, which I love. I use it for meat, candy, and yogurt a lot. I am on my second one, I’ve been using them for a long time.

23 Angie July 21, 2010 at 5:00 am

Thank you!

24 Stacy August 20, 2010 at 6:16 pm

I am sure its too late for this time but I currently have 2 qts of whole milk in my crock pot to make my first batch of yogurt and one point confuses me!
In your instruction you say 2 tablespoons of live yogurt and in the web site you say you used originally she says 1/2 cup yogurt.
Is yours a typo? It seems like its not since your final product appears thicker then the other site you referenced.
Maybe you have the magic amount for thicker yogurt?

In the end I will try twice of course, or 10 times but I am not sure which to try tonight!

If you could let me know for next time that would be great!

25 Sofya August 20, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Mine is not a typo – rather, the other site is wrong about this, as is evidenced by the photos. You need less, not more starter. More starter will lead to thinner yogurt as the yogurt bacteria need living space to multiply properly. 1-2 T is the right amount for half a gallon of milk.

26 Stacy August 20, 2010 at 9:12 pm

It does make sense, was just confirming. Thank you so much for getting back to me so soon. Still have time to add only the two tablespoons tonight.

Thank you very much!

27 Stacy August 21, 2010 at 9:54 am

Alright!
It did work for sure. I am just not sure of the final product is as good as it should have been?
Nothing rose to the top to be skimmed off when it was cooled.
The actual yogurt this morning it seems like half of it is thick-ish and half is kinda thin and loose.
So it is
A)Not all done, maybe i need longer then 10 hours?
B)Messed up the temperature at some step?
C) Something went wrong with the heating to 180 and cooling to 110?
D) Just needs to be refrigerated to see the final product.

I have a suspicion my thermometer is dying. Last time I used it I wondered if it was wrong given the final product of my meat. I will buy a new one and try again.

Oh and other issues is we have central air, my house is cooler. It was in the oven and the crock covered in towels. I just wonder if the temp was too low to all set properly. I did the heat to 180 and cool to 110 before adding yogurt part.

Do you cool all the yogurt in the crock pot in the fridge to let it set properly and then put into container for storage or containers from the start? Maybe it would have set more and some whey rise if it cooled in the crock in the fridge?

I am sure it worked some what, just wondering what to adjust for next batch!

It still is a success though!

28 Sofya August 21, 2010 at 10:59 am

Hey there Stacy – I think your main problem was the temp.

Here’s my reply to some of your points:

Nothing rose to the top to be skimmed off when it was cooled.

That’s because you must be using store-bought homogenized milk, where the cream has been artificially incorporated into the milk, preventing the separation you see in my photos (as I use exclusively non-homogenized milk). No big deal though. This makes no difference as far as the quality of the end product.

The actual yogurt this morning it seems like half of it is thick-ish and half is kinda thin and loose.

It is normal for the yogurt on the bottom of the pot to be thinner than at the top. Since this is not thickened artificially, it doesn’t have the same uniformity. Also, you know that yogurt is curd and whey? The curd is the yogurt stuff, and the whey is the greenish-yellow watery stuff that is nothing other than the water naturally contained in the milk. The whey will always seep out in the yogurt that’s not been artificially thickened. But I think the primary reason for what you describe is the inadequate temperature.

A)Not all done, maybe i need longer then 10 hours?

Sometimes that is true.

B)Messed up the temperature at some step?

It sounds like your yogurt was just not warm enough when incubating, and the central air might have something to do with that. Try a larger amount of milk next time – like 3 quarts – if your crock-pot can accommodate it. This will keep the temperature higher for longer. It is also possible that your thermometer was not taking an accurate reading.

29 Stacy August 21, 2010 at 11:19 am

Alright, new thermometer and borrow neighbours smaller crock pot it is! I like experimentation anyways.

I am sure it was the heat somewhere. I did have the light on.

It did work, somewhat!

Next time will be ever better.

Yes I did mix with the cup of yogurt and back into the crock. Temp was exactly 110 when I put in the oven with the light on. I should have left it longer then 10 hours to see the result. Bet I wasn’t patient enough. It just seemed half set.

Is it necessary that scum does rise to be taken off? I had literally NONE. Just wonder if that meant in fact my thermometer is wrong and it never hit 180?

You are very patient. Thank you!

30 Sofya March 12, 2012 at 11:04 am

See my previous answer. Please don’t call it scum. This is the good fat in the milk.

31 Stacy August 21, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Alright, more info to try.

I really dont think it heated properly to start off and I also think my crock pot is either too big!

Thanks so much!

Yes the scum. There wasnt a single bit of it. No separation at all. Couldnt tell cream from anything. Looked the same as when I put it in but did have a few bubbles kinda like scalded milk.

I will try again for sure. At least milk isnt too pricey.

We can use todays in smoothies anyways.

32 joye September 17, 2010 at 3:13 pm

has anyone ever made yogurt with goats milk?

33 Sofya September 17, 2010 at 3:28 pm

I haven’t but my friends have and it should work the same.

34 thinkoutsidethebus - Jessica September 26, 2010 at 11:08 am

Perfect recipe! I have only been making yogourt for about a month now, a total of four times so far, and I had success from the very first attempt. I really appreciate the emphasis on the correct temperatures. The first time I only used 1L of milk, but I’ve since used closer to 2L and had much better results (thicker, creamier).

Strangely enough, the third batch I made turned out…well, in the morning, all the yellow liquid seemed to have separated from the curd. I reheated and strained it out and did not have ricotta but ended up with a sort of labneh. I’m not sure why! It was delicious, though.

35 Sofya September 26, 2010 at 12:27 pm

The reason your yogurt worked better with a greater amount of milk is because greater amount of milk holds the heat for a longer period of time, resulting in better setting.

As I say in many comments above and in the post itself, the yellow liquid is whey – the water in the milk. It will always seep out of homemade yogurt at some point. This is perfectly normal. Stir it back in, pour it off, or put yogurt through a kitchen towel to remove some of the whey and thicken the yogurt (effectively making it Greek-style).

36 thinkoutsidethebus - Jessica September 26, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I see where my mistake was, then, I saw that the liquid had separated right out and thought it hadn’t set. The result was still tasty, though! Thanks for your response!

37 jaye October 16, 2010 at 6:07 am

I just tried your method (1 gallon skim milk in a 6 qt crockpot). It worked! My only mistake was taking it out of the oven after 7 hours (my timing didn’t allow for leaving it over night). It solidified, but could use a bit more tang.

I drained through cheese cloth it for an hour and now have a bit more that a 1/2 gallon of very thick Greek yogurt. I saved a ton of money! Yippee!

38 Sofya March 12, 2012 at 11:09 am

Leave it in there for 24 hours for greater tang.

39 Steve November 24, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Thanks for the crock pot yogurt directions. I have been making it every week. There is only two of us but it is usually gone in a little over a week. We add fresh fruit each morning and really enjoy.

Thanks Again
Steve

40 Chelle January 20, 2011 at 11:28 pm

FirstI want to say that Iwas excited to hear you are in WI! I’m up near Appleton/Green Bay. :) Pleased to meet you. I made crockpot yogurt today and it turned out great. I did use store bought whole milk and plain Dannon lowfat yogurt as a starter. I will blog about my fun adventure on Sunday. I did feel like it took forever to reach 180-190. I was going on 3 1/2 hours so I turned it up to high. My crockpot is a 4.5 quart one. I cooledit faster by putting it out in my garage for about an hour. Got it down to about 100 degrees before mixing in the starter. I turned my oven to the lowest setting it would go (170*) and turned it off before the preheat buzzer went off. I was worried that it would be too hot. Wrapped crock in towel and p utitin oven for just over 6 hours. It was rather odd tasting warm yogurt, but I had to. I was so darn excited to see if it worked. I was surprised how mild it tasted. Other sites say the longer it incubates the more tart tasting, but you say it happens after you store it. I’m very interested in testing these theories out. I also put it outside for about an hour after it was done. Same site also mentioned putting it in the freezer for an hour for better texure. I am no scientist, but love to cook. So this all fascinates me. Did I mention I love Alton Brown’s Good Eats. It’s fun to know how food works. :) I did notice that as soon as I stirred a little honey into it that is turned very runny. This was a little bowl I just had to eat right away. Maybe that mattered. It tasted great, but I didn’t mind and don’t think my kids will mind. Could just be the stirring. Thanks so much for all of your helpful suggestions. I am now subscribed to your site too.

Chelle

41 Sofya March 12, 2012 at 11:14 am

It is true that different crock-pots will behave differently as far as the time it takes to heat and cool the milk. Your crock-pot is really large so no wonder it took longer.

The longer yogurt sits, the tarter it will get, and this will happen both in the fridge and on the counter or wherever you are incubating it. It will just happen faster at warmer temperatures. This is because the bacteria in yogurt is fully alive and continues to excrete lactic acid until all of the yogurt is consumed. It is this lactic acid that is responsible for the thickening and the tart flavor.

Yes, stirring yogurt turns it very runny, and the addition of honey thinned it out even more.

42 Jessica January 25, 2011 at 11:22 am

Okay…this may be a silly question. When my housemate made yogurt and put it in the fridge, she would always put it in an uncovered glass jar. I was wondering if there was a good reason for this, or if she had just lost the lid to her jar.

In any case, I just made my own batch of yogurt and it came out wonderful! Thank you!

43 Sofya January 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm

There is no reason to do that, and I can’t imagine why your friend did. Always cover your yogurt before putting it in the fridge so it doesn’t absorb unwelcome flavors from other foods in your fridge.

44 Jessica January 26, 2011 at 4:39 pm

I never did… for some reason it never struck me as that odd. I guess I thought maybe she was letting it breathe…In any case, I lidded my jars to prevent any of the usual clumsy mistakes that occur in my kitchen.

By the way, I’m very much in love with your blog. Please keep it up!

45 Goat Mom February 12, 2011 at 11:09 am

Wonderful, funny and helpful blog on the yogurt making in a crock pot! I can’t wait to try this once my does kid in a couple of weeks! Thanks for the time and effort you put into posting with all the pictures…you’re awesome!

46 Hubert F February 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm

FAT FREE GREEK YOGURT FROM DRIED MILK POWDER

OMG – This stuff is soooo gooood – Best non-fat yogurt I ever had. I tweaked the above a little bit…but turned out great. I dissolved 2 pkts of non-fat dried milk powder in 7 1/2 cups of water and heated it on ‘High’ in the crock-pot until it got 180+ degrees and turned it off. This way it heated faster. Tilted the lid somewhat and let it cool to about 115 F. Took 1/2 cup of that warm milk and mixed it with about 1/2 cup of leftover creek yogurt (chobani). Poured that back into the crock-pot and dissolved another 1/3 pack of non-fat dried milk powder in the warm milk. By now the temp had fallen below 110, so I turned it back on ‘High’ for a couple of minutes. As soon as the temp had risen back to 110 whilst I was stirring it, I turned it off again. Put the lid back on, wrapped the crock-pot in a beach towel and put another beach towel folded on top of the lid (because that’s where the biggest heat loss would be) and left it overnight on the kitchen counter at room temp. After 8+ hours it had set and a lot of whey had separated. Now I took a colander and lined it with 4 open coffee filters. Then I scooped the yogurt into that colander and placed that into a bigger bowl. I let the whey drip out for about 2-3 hours in the fridge until it reached the thickness that I prefer. As mentioned above, in gained more ‘tangyness’ in the fridge. Perfect “greek” thick creamy yoghort – FATFREE and free of everything else as well. Now I mix it with berries and other fruit, a little vanilla and either sweetener or honey. Delicious. Thank YOU Sofya for your write up that gave me some valuable insight and saved me $50 for a yogurt maker. ;-)

47 Diana@Spain in Iowa March 18, 2011 at 10:09 am

Sofya, I’ve been wanting to try my yogurt in a crock pot. I normally do mine on stovetop and sit it on an electric mat, however, mine is usually very runny. I do use raw milk heated to 110. This time I’m going to try your method and skim the top like you had mentioned. I’ll let you know how my results go!! Great post!! Thank you so much for sharing this!!

48 Sofya March 12, 2012 at 11:20 am

The reason your yogurt is runny is because you don’t pasteurize the milk first and nothing else – the skimming doesn’t have anything to do with it. As a result, the natural bacteria in raw milk compete with the yogurt bacteria preventing the latter from doing its job properly in setting the milk. Heating raw milk to at least 180 degrees to completely kill off any organisms in the milk is crucial in obtaining consistent, thick results, as it creates a sterile medium for the yogurt bacteria to grow. Raw milk is a terrible yogurt medium unless you pasteurize it.

49 Elizabeth March 22, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Thank you!! I just tried making my first batch of yogurt and was so shocked when I opened it up this morning, and it had actually worked! My timings were off from what most recipes recommend, so I’m really glad you emphasize using the thermometer. I don’t think mine would have worked without it.

50 Lynn March 27, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Hi Sofya! I’ve been trying different methods of making and incubating yogurt for about 3 months and I always love the outcome. So, looking to streamline even more I found your recipe. I ran out this afternoon to buy a 2 qt. crockpot and started the process at 5:00. Alas, four hours later, at 9:00, I had to pop the crock into the microwave to bring up the heat at least another 25 degrees. My feeling is, if I had started it out on ‘high’ it would have been up to 185 within that 2 1/2 to 3 hour timeframe. Should I have brought the milk to room temp before putting it in the crock pot? I’m using pasturized (not ultra) store bought milk…maybe that’s an issue? Any thoughts?

51 Sofya March 12, 2012 at 11:23 am

All crock-pots heat at different rates. Forget the times and go with the temperatures only. It is not necessary to bring the milk to room temp first. The type of milk has nothing to do with it whatsoever.

52 Diana March 27, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Hi! I spent SO much money in yogurt every week because my daughter and I love it but as you, I am not used to the consistency and sweetness of the yogurt here, so I can’t wait to try this recipe. I do want to know if you have any suggestions to have different flavors? specially anything with fresh fruit? Also, have you try to make kefir? Thank you so much again for the recipe :)

53 Sofya March 27, 2011 at 11:22 pm

Kefir uses a different bacterial culture which I don’t like because I can’t stand the carbonation, and I also find kefir to be a lot more runny than I like. I also find kefir’s results inconsistent.

One way we flavor ours is by adding some homemade elderberry syrup to the bowl before eating.

I am sure you could cut up a peach and add it to the finished yogurt.

You can also add some sugar and vanilla to your milk prior to incubating but be sure that the temperature is right after these additions. I would add the sugar when you are heating the milk for the first time so it has the chance to dissolve and the vanilla just before incubating.

54 faithful May 27, 2011 at 10:36 am

Flavored mine today with a sprinkle of sugar free Jello. Guess you could use any flavor or Jello with sugar. I might try for the kids especially a sprinlke if instant pudding mix…

I also use this same comb, put it in a high speed blender with ice cubes & make an instant smoothie / shake….delicious on a hot day!

55 Brenda P. March 28, 2011 at 6:10 pm

I’m getting in a little late in the game, but was led to you thru the NYT article. I am delighted with my yogurt. I, too, was plagued by runny stuff (really runny) and the boys refused. I’d thought I’d give it another go, since we’re going thru a couple of quarts of yogurt a week and my 6 yr. is now turned onto kefir.

Beautiful! Lovely, thick, and a great creamy texture.

I researched Kefir, and it looks like it’s a different kind of starter. I just thinned my yogurt with some fruit nectar and it passed the test.

Thanks so much, Sofya! (I linked to this on my facebook page and many friends are intrigued. Is this the next no-knead bread?!?)

56 Courtney B April 1, 2011 at 7:36 am

Hi there! I am really enjoying your blog and have shared it with quite a few friends who are now just as thrilled with it.

I hope I’m not too late to comment on this and get a response; but I had a troubleshooting sort of question. Yesterday I made my second batch using your method. Well a few things in conjunction happened that made me think I botched it. I let the milk overheat during the sterilizing phase, then I think it was more like 108 or so when I added my yogurt culture. So, I stuck it in the oven with a hope and prayer.

That was around noonish or so. By 9.00 last night – I still had a crock full of liquid milk. Smelled yogurty, but fully liquid. I’m 6 months pregnant, and not overly ambitious at this point and kind of did a to-heck-with-it karate chop to my oven door and slammed it shut. I figured I would deal with dumping and cleaning the mess this morning.

Imagine my surprise when this morning first thing I opened it up and I have a crock full of nearly greek yogurt thickness. It is considerably more tart than my first batch – but doesn’t smell in any way “off” to my preggo super sniffer. So we have a batch that has been out of any refrigeration to incubate wayyyyy longer than usual. Do you think it is safe to eat? Wow, did I just write a novel to ask that simple question? And I’m still going. . . . stopping now!! Thanks and hope to hear from you, Court

57 Sofya March 12, 2012 at 11:44 am

Your yogurt is still perfectly safe to eat. Sometimes it just needs more time. You did the right thing by leaving it in there longer. It is bound to be sour after a longer incubation period like that, just as you found out, since it sours at it sits. In fact, 24-hour yogurt (yogurt left to incubate for 24 hours to develop greater tang) is fairly common among homemade-yogurt crowd.

58 Jen April 7, 2011 at 9:10 pm

I tried this yesterday but added the starter yogurt before it was cooled enough so I’m trying again today and paying very close attention to the temps. Looking forward to the morning!

I was just talking with a friend and she heats hers on the stove (does the same temps) but then wraps the pot in a towel and keeps it on a heating pad on low all night. Interesting idea that I thought I’d share! :)

thanks for your blog. I’m enjoying it!

59 Sofya April 8, 2011 at 7:57 am

Yes, that’s another way to do it.

60 Jen April 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I did a gallon in my large crockpot and it worked great but I’m thinking about doing it in a pot next time too… with 4 kiddos, we go through a lot. :) Do you use 2 pots like a double boiler or just heat it in one?
Funny story, my husband worked really late last night and turned off the oven light when he got home. I was up with the baby around 3am and turned it back on. He left for work around 6 and when I woke up it was off again! Guess I hadn’t gotten a chance to explain what I was trying to do! :)

61 Sofya April 8, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Actually, with 1 gallon you can do a stainless steel pot (milk burns for me in enamel) as 1 gallon is enough milk to hold its own heat long enough for it to set (milk keeps heat for a very long time). There’s no need to bother double-boiler style. Just heat it directly over medium heat and watch it.

62 Alice Schmehl April 9, 2011 at 4:48 pm

I am a new but very big fan of your blog. I was very intrigued by your homemade yogurt recipe and I couldn’t wait to try it. So last night I followed your instructions exactly (they were so direct and simple, and the photos were A BIG help) and my yogurt turned out perfect! Also, my maternal grandmother was from Azerbaijan. I was never able to know her but thanks to your blog, I know a little bit more about my heritage which has always been important to me. Thank you very much for sharing your blessed life with your devoted readers!

63 Sofya April 9, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Alice, I am so glad you’ve been enjoying the blog and that the recipe worked for you! Thanks!

64 dan April 17, 2011 at 11:32 am

I tried this but with a slight difference that meant I didn’t have to come back to the pot after the yogurt starter was added:
Use a timer. We have programmable timers here in the UK that just plug in to the wall sockets. Mine are digital and can have up to 10 programmes so I set them to turn the pot on (low) for 5 minutes every half hour. I did some rather brief and not terribly scientific tests but this seemed to keep the pot at the right temperature. YMMV

65 Sofya April 17, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Time is not important as it will vary from pot to pot. Use temperature only.

66 Erin @ what the fork April 17, 2011 at 7:15 pm

I can’t wait to try this! Thanks so much for the wonderful step by step instructions.

67 Terri May 24, 2011 at 3:37 am

Hi Sofya! Thank you so much for this home-made yogurt recipe, really enjoyed reading it and the several comments you got! I have searched high and low and I think this is the simplest, most concise recipe I have found, not to mention the best-explained and written procedure. The pictures are very helpful too! We love yogurt and would like to try making it this week. We live in a tropical country in Asia, where it’s hot and humid for most part of the year, so I suppose the warm kitchen (usual ambient temp is 86 to 90 deg F) may actually be conducive for this purpose:) I do have a couple questions: First, my crock pot is a 5.5 liter one (5.8 quart), so would that matter if the size is bigger than what you have used? Also, I plan to use only 1 liter of fresh milk (approx. 1/4 gallon) as my trial batch because it would be my first time to do it and fresh milk is quite costly in this part of the world too (thought I would not want to put any to waste, just in case!) As such, would the lesser volume of milk still come up with the same results? Or should I just rely more on reaching the desired temps of 180 degrees (1st stage) and 110 degrees (2nd stage), regardless of the volume of the milk? Lastly, for half the volume of milk, do I use one 1 Tbsp yogurt instead of 2 T? Thanks again, Sofya, and I eagerly await your reply! Cheers!

68 Sofya May 24, 2011 at 9:02 am

Larger pot will take longer to heat. Using a smaller amount of milk will require adding some more insulation as the smaller amount will not keep the heat for as long. I would also wrap the pot in a thick bath towel as an additional precaution.

Yes, you need to half the amount of starter if you are using half the milk.

Do not go by time, rely on temperatures only.

69 Terri May 24, 2011 at 10:14 am

Hi Sofya! Many thanks for the quick reply and I appreciate the new site you have shown me too. After thinking about this more though, I have decided to follow your original recipe and shall try using 2 qts of fresh milk, though still using my large crock-pot. I will be monitoring the temperatures with my candy thermometer and try to follow the procedure to the letter :) I shall let you know how it goes as I am hopeful this will turn out good! Thank you again!

70 faithful May 26, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Hi Sofya… So nice to speak to someone from my parents home country. I don’t know how I found your blog but so glad I did as I wanted for a long time to make my own yogurt so I knew what was in it & economics play a BIG part for me as well.

went & got a thermometer like you suggested (same one) but I can’t figure out the alarm on it… Didn’t have much direction. Does that button just silence it??? I just can’t figure it out…

I have my 1st batch doing it’s thing right now but don’t have an oven or stove for that matter so I wrapped it & put it in my microwave with 2 covered Mason jars containing VERY HOT WATER). This worked for rising dough so I thought I would give it a try~the lids keep the steam inside the jar.

Can’t wait til morning!

71 Sofya May 27, 2011 at 8:52 am

I don’t really remember exactly how the thermometer works, I am sorry, I haven’t used one like that for a while. You should be able to figure it out. I think HOT water is a bad idea – I think you want water that is sort of warm instead – if the temp is too hot, your yogurt bacteria will die and it will no set.

72 faithful May 27, 2011 at 10:53 am

The temp of the hot water in the sealed jars was put in the microwave after I placed the wrapped crock pot inside. It kept the inside temp of the microwave warm & I could smell the yogurt during the night! This morning a wonderful result! Drained the whey ~ top layer was thick & bottom thinner… I put part in colendar w/cheesecloth to make it Greek & the rest (I didn’t eat) in the fridge to see what happens.

BTW ~ I flavored some with a sprinlke of peach sugar free Jello & it was out of this world.

I make a smoothie/shake out of yogurt, sugar free jello & Ice cubes blended wel in a high power blender… My grandkids love it! So good for them without all the sugar & additives and thiss fresh yogurt especially if it is not real thick is perfect for it…

THANK YOU SO MUCH for your expertise! 1 more question though~

Is there a good use for the whey?
Thanks!

73 Sofya May 27, 2011 at 11:29 am

I’ve added whey to bread before instead of water but don’t recommend it (bread too wet, sticks to pan). I would suggest googling “uses for whey.” We don’t usually flavor yogurt except individual portions with homemade jams and syrups. Mostly it’s used to make a multitude of yogurt soups.

74 faithful May 27, 2011 at 6:57 pm

My Greek yogurt was tremendous! Decided to freeze the whey to use in smoothies instead of ice cubes.

FYI ~ I orfered both water & milk kefir grains from your recommended site Cultures for Health. What nice people there. Kefir is so expensive here & the water kefir sounds like fun. When my grains grow maybe I can share some with you! Will let you know how it does…

And I found out a probable reason my yogurt was so thin on the bottom…my organic milk was ultra-pasturized & I didn’t realize it… Will switch to regular milk since my Fage Greek isn’t organic anyway.

BTW ~ the National Center for Home Food Preservation suggested assing 2/3 cup powered milk per quart of skim milk to make yogurt thicker. They stated the greater amount of milk solids will produce a thicker yogurt… This will be my next try on Monday…

Great yogurt success thanks to my Russian sister! <3
BTW

BTW ~ the National Center for Home Food Preservation suggests adding 2/3 cup per quart

75 faithful May 27, 2011 at 7:04 pm

My phone doesn’t always connect well so I am sorry for the dup starts at the end of the last message..

I meant to tell you the mild flavor of this homemade yogurt is so SUPURB to store brands of plain. Never knew it could be so mild… Like a little of Heaven here on Earth.

I would never have started this if you had not cared enough to share yourself with others…

THANK YOU!

76 Sofya May 27, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Yogurt is always thick at the top and thinner at the bottom for me, although they do say ultra-pasteurized milk is not as good for the purpose. I have seen powdered milk recommendation but in my mind it does not belong in true yogurt, which needs nothing but milk and bacteria. If it works for you, that is great. I like my yogurt soft and flowing however – pourable, not spoonable.

77 faithful May 30, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Just had to tell you-my sister is going nuts over your site & recipies! Thanks!

Making more yogurt today ! Just don’t seem to have enough on hand for all I want to do now that is not so expensive & I have the time to make it for myself & kisd families.

but being so frugal & never throwing away anything other than freezing in cubes for smoothies I found a marvelous thing to use whey. Thought I would pass it along if you are interested…

since it is already fermented – keep what you drain off (keeps in the fridge fou up to 6 mos but won’t last that long)

It can be used as a starter with salt or sugar depending on the vegetablel, like beetsl to ferment them.

I found ideas from The Nourishing Cook.com Keep up the great web work…

it is 90 degrees outside & I am going out there to check on the yogurt…. K <3

78 Sofya May 30, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Yep, I heard about that method for whey fermentation! Never tried it though.

79 Lydia May 31, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Uh Oh, I am making this now and used organic ultra pasturized milk! Oh well,
maybe I can make it into ricotta? I love the way you showed how to do that…no waste!

By the way, I cannot wait to make those yogurt pancakes. They look so good.

80 Sofya May 31, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Lydia, just wait and see, your is still in progress, right?

81 Lydia May 31, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Yes, I am going to go forward and see what happens. I did not get any “skin” on top when it went to 110 but I went ahead and mixed the yogurt. I have no oven light so I wrapped it up with a towel.

No big deal. If it does not work, I will try again tomorrow with regular milk. I am so excited about making yogurt and will pick up a better thermometer tomorrow.

82 Lydia June 6, 2011 at 8:58 am

Sorry could not get back sooner to share the news that it turned out great. I was not expecting it to taste so good. I was shocked.

I had to guess at 110 degrees, though, because I only had a meat thermometer. :o)

I am making your Pancake recipe with the last bit of it today.

83 Tamara July 19, 2011 at 9:07 am

,
Does the yogurt starter need to be at room temp when adding it to the “cooled” mixture?

84 Sofya July 19, 2011 at 10:57 am

It doesn’t matter – what matters is that you mix it in a little bit of warm milk (from the “cooled” mixture) before adding it back into the big pot, so it doesn’t bring the temp of your milk down. And after you add it, check the whole thing again with a thermometer before you let it incubate.

85 Ridethewaves July 21, 2011 at 1:38 am

Thank you so much for this recipe!! I’ve tried a few other recipes with mixed success, tonight I am trying it with a digital thermometer. I feel I will have much better success..

And I absolutely adore your blog! :)

Thanks again!

86 Kim August 3, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I am hoping to make yogurt today with your recipe and i just wanted to double check on this… i am using raw milk and i noticed you said to skip the heating to 180 step in your directions. So, I only need to bring my first temp up to 110 and then immediately put in the yogurt, correct?

Thank you for this recipe, I am really excited!! :)

87 Sofya August 3, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Kim – did I say that? Let me double-check! Anyway, here’s the right answer: If you are using raw milk, which is what I use 100% of the time, I would absolutely recommend bringing it to 180 first – because raw milk is alive with all kinds of things that can and will interfere with your yogurt setting properly (with the activity of the yogurt bacteria, in other words). In short, with raw milk, this step is a MUST, in my opinion. I’d rather see some of the beneficial organisms in the milk die than dump the entire batch of failed yogurt. Ask me how I know.

88 Kim August 3, 2011 at 6:19 pm

haha :) ok perfect! Thank you for the verification. I will NOT skip the step and follow the normal directions.
Thank you so much and i will let you know how it turns out.

89 Sofya August 3, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Thanks for pointing it out, though. I fixed it now.

90 Kim August 4, 2011 at 11:17 am

YAY! So excited to wake up and see my yogurt is a huge success. Now i just cannot wait to taste it. Thanks again for this recipe and your wonderful blog!

cheers

91 Sofya August 4, 2011 at 12:31 pm

The little yogurt fairies did their job overnight!

92 Kim August 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Oh yes they did!! That is absolutely DELICIOUS!! Not an ounce of comparison to store-bought yogurt. I am so happy :)

93 Shannon August 23, 2011 at 9:29 am

Hi Sofya :) Love your blog. I’m a southeastern wisconsinite that would love to live in the Driftless hills!

Anyway for my question….

I have the lamest oven ever and it has no light. What do you think about the crock pot put on top of a heating pad on low? Wrapped in a towel? Would that be too hot?

Also, can you let this yogurt ferment for 24 hours? I am trying to make yogurt that my son who is on the GAPS diet can eat. Thanks!!

94 Sofya August 23, 2011 at 9:54 am

Hi Shannon – yes, a heating pad plus a towel is actually a fairly common way people keep their yogurt warm to incubate. If you do it and see that the pad is too hot (which I don’t think it will be), you can always line it with another towel next time. Now you can let your yogurt sit there for 24 hours, but that will make it considerably more sour. Safe to eat though.

95 Ingrid September 11, 2011 at 10:30 am

Hi Sofya, tried the recipe friday, the yogurt was ready to go on Saturday. It was delicious ! Thanks for this great recipe and precise instructions. I didn’t even add any sugar to it. And when I think I was ready to buy a yogurt maker…
Have you ever tried adding a flavor to it like vanilla or chocolate or coffee ? I’m wondering at what point in the process a flavor could be added ? Right from the start or when adding the 2Tb of yogurt ? Any idea anyone ? Thanks !

96 Sofya September 11, 2011 at 10:47 am

You can add your sugar to the milk as you heat it so it can dissolve. You can then also add some vanilla before inoculating. Feel free to play with coffee and chocolate but I make no guarantees. Whatever you do, check the temp after you inoculate to make sure that these additions did not bring the temp down too low.

97 Karen September 15, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Hello,
I was doing a search to see if I could find information on storing homemade yogurt in a fermenting crock. And found your site, have not tried using a crock pot, but last nite I tried my fermenting pot, and it worked, but I had to make some changes to my method. I brought the milk to up to 180 degrees, in a large SS Pot and poured into my fermenting crock, I left it to cool, but because I was tired I feel asleep before adding the culture, in the morning my milk had cooled so at that point I added my culture and placed the lid back on the crock and placed that whole crock outside in the sun, we live in Arizona, well it took all day, I checked at about 8 hours later and it had set, I like to let it yog for at least 24 hours to make it more digestible. Now I what do I do with a huge pot of yogurt, so I was trying to find information on leaving it in the crock on the counter, instead of frig, but so far have not found any.

thank you for sharing
Karen

98 Sofya September 16, 2011 at 6:26 am

I would most certainly not leave it sitting out at room temperature for longer than 24 hours – it will start going bad pretty quickly this way, unless you eat it fast, which doesn’t sound like you will with that quantity. If it’s merely a storage issue, you can always divide it into individual containers. I often make two gallons of yogurt at a time and put it into four half-gallon jars.

99 Christine September 19, 2011 at 8:18 am

I made your crock pot yogurt with skim milk and fat free yogurt starter. It work great. The yogurt turned out firm and creamy. There was nothing to skim off the top either. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

100 Rick October 13, 2011 at 3:18 am

Hi. I love your very clear explanation of your method. I looked at many sites and saw a lot of variations for crock pot yogurt – several of which didn’t make much sense. (Things like adding up to 1C starter yogurt to 1/2 gallon milk. Pre-”jarring” the mixture and just using the crock pot as a hot water bath for the jars – what a hassle…) I wanted a straightforward recipe and you came up the winner.

I especially like your “plan B” tip should something go wrong for making ricotta. I’m actually looking forward to that happening. What a wonderful “excuse” to throw together a lasagna!

Best recipe and tips ever!

101 Melanie October 19, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Hi Sofya,

I was so excited to try this, bought a good digital thermometer, ran down this morning like a kid on Christmas morning — only to find that my yogurt didn’t set. When washing out the crock pot, thought, I noticed that it had started to set on the bottom a little. Is it a heat issue?

When I added the 2 T. of starter, the temp was at 110. I also added 1/2 c. honey and 1T vanilla, following another almost identical recipe, because we love vanilla yogurt. I did do it separately, but when I poured it back into the crock pot, I noticed that the temp dropped to 102. Could adding more stuff bring the temp down? Should I do that at a slightly higher temp, like 117?

Thanks,
Melanie, who is determined to get this right, especially since I sprang for the digital thermometer!

102 Sofya October 19, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Hi Melanie – if you read the instructions carefully, they tell you to first mix your starter in a little 110-degree milk and then stir everything back directly into the crock-pot so that not to bring the temp down. Alternatively, you can heat your milk to about 115-117 and add the starter directly. 102 you ended up with is too low for yogurt to set (and no wonder – 1/2 C of cold honey would make a huge difference, temp-wise) – if that’s ever the case again, just heat your crock-pot again gently while monitoring the temp until it hits 110.

I am also not sure if the enzymes in honey interfered with the setting – I never added any flavoring to my yogurt while making it, as I use it mainly for soups and savory dishes and have never seen flavored, sweetened yogurt until I moved to the West. Unless you are absolutely sure your other source is reliable, I recommend trying to make yogurt without extra additions first, and then stir in the flavoring later. My kids often mix elderberry or maple syrup into their finished yogurt to flavor it.

Please do give it another try (and leave the flavorings out for now) – there’s no rocket science to yogurt and no magic touch is needed – all you need is for your milk to be the right temp and to be able to retain it long enough for yogurt to set (plus, not using too much starter). As long as these two conditions are met, you’ve got yogurt. I assume you followed the part of the instructions where you place your crock-pot insert into the oven with the oven light on (you can additionally wrap your insert into a towel for extra insulation before sticking it in the oven – since the oven itself is actually off, you’ll be safe). Oh and by the way – if you use a towel on top of the oven with light, you can ditch the crock-pot and make it in a stainless steel pot with a lid. The only reason you need a crock-pot is because the insert tends to keep the heat well.

103 Melinda November 3, 2011 at 6:04 am

Hi Sofya,
I’ve just made my first batch. It didn’t set as thick as your picture, but it’s certainly not milk anymore. I’ll take it as a success. I’m guessing it will thicken up in the refrigerator. I’m sure glad I got the thermometer, because if I had gone by the time suggestions (like you said not to do), it would probably have been a flop. The heating to 180 took nearly 4 hours, and the cooling to 110 took over 3.
I’m curious to know if you’ve ever taken the temp of your finished yogurt. I opened my oven this morning and was surprised at how warm it was with just the light on. So, out of curiosity (mostly because the yogurt was a little runny), I took the temp. It was 101 after being in the oven for 8 hours. Does that seem like it stayed too warm? I have no idea, but a silly theory about why mine didn’t set as firm as yours, as all of the instructions were followed. Maybe it’s just a fluke like the couple of times yours didn’t work out perfectly.
Thanks for your thorough directions!!

104 Sofya November 3, 2011 at 8:13 am

Melinda, from my experience, yogurt doesn’t set as desired for 3 reasons, mainly 1)milk too cold 2)milk was too hot when you added your starter (sounds like you took the temp though) 3)too much starter. Try less starter next time (like, do 1 T to 1/2 gallon). Yogurt bacteria don’t like to be crowded. Time will vary dramatically from crock-pot to crock-pot which is why going by time is not useful. Also, are you sure you stirred your starter in very, very thoroughly for a minute or so to be sure it’s incorporated? You need to stir from side to side, NOT IN A CIRCLE like you normally would stir other things, which may not be in my original directions.

Oven with light does keep it quite warm indeed. 101 sounds right.

Also – did you stir your yogurt into some of the warm milk taken out of the pot before adding it back in? Cause that can bring the temp down dramatically if you add it directly.

If you think your house is very cold, that can also be a problem. If so, wrapping your insert into a bath towel next time before placing it in the oven can make a huge difference (it doesn’t start on fire cause the oven is off of course, and the heat from the light is not hot enough).

Finally, it’s sometimes the matter of the yogurt you start with.

It will thicken in a little in the fridge for sure and you can also strain it through a flour sack towel (cheesecloth you can buy is not great cause holes are too big). My mother-in-law uses pantyhose for this purpose, believe it or not.

105 Melinda November 8, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Hi Sofya,
Yep, I took some of the milk out and stirred starter into it before adding it. I also used only a tablespoon of starter. It may be that I didn’t stir it well enough and that I stirred in a circle. Some of the yogurt was nice and firm, and some was more runny. I’ll definitely try this again, as it’s a really good topping for fresh fruit. I wasn’t sure how it would come out after being in the fridge, so I left half of it in the crock and did like you said and made some ricotta. That is some good stuff! It’s perfect for smearing on crackers. Thanks for the tips!

106 Sofya November 8, 2011 at 10:38 pm

In that case, my best guess is that perhaps the stirring wasn’t quite adequate (I never stir mine in a circle – milk in general needs to be stirred up and down and from side to side when making cheese and other such things). If the starter doesn’t penetrate all the ares of the milk, it won’t work all over (that is my understanding). It sure sounds like that’s what happened. Give it another try.

107 Jackie November 13, 2011 at 5:07 pm

This may have been answered and I missed it but what if your oven doesn’t have a light?

108 Sofya November 13, 2011 at 5:11 pm

My suggestion would be to wrap it into one or even two thicker bath towels and put it in a warm place (near a wood stove, for instance, if you have one, or again even in the oven that has been preheated to perhaps the lowest temperature and them cooled some).

Alternatively, you could make it in a larger thermos.

109 Betsy November 23, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Interesting reading and comments. Such creativity! And luck! I want to know if the technique would work for soy yogurt, or if anyone has a reference for soy yogurt. I’ve googled it of course, made one batch from a recipe on a site and it flopped. After reading here, I see that is not unusual. Just wondering your take on say yogurt. Anyone? Thanks.

110 Sofya November 23, 2011 at 8:05 pm

You would need to use some other bacterial culture. I suggest to check out the “Cultures for Health” website.

111 Elizabeth January 2, 2012 at 7:41 pm

has anyone tried this with soy milk and soy yogurt? is there any reason this might not work? we have dairy allergies and soy yogurt is so much more expensive. i’d love to be able to make my own!

112 Sofya January 2, 2012 at 7:49 pm
113 Ipek January 7, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Hi Sofya,
Wouldn’t it be easier/quicker to use the high setting on the crockpot in the cooking process? Have you tried it that way?
Thanks for the details!

114 Sofya January 7, 2012 at 2:49 pm

With my particular crock-pot (and they don’t all heat at the exact same rate) it would scorch the milk. But go ahead, try it with yours.

115 Ipek January 7, 2012 at 11:13 pm

I tried it today, and didn’t smell any scorching. It’s still wrapped up on the counter. I am anxious to see the results tomorrow morning.

Another question about the same issue- You mentioned:

“However, I do not recommend skipping this step when using raw milk, unless you are ready for a lifetime of inconsistent results…”

What if I am using organic whole milk which is already ultra-pasteurized or even regular milk which is still pasteurized. Is it OK to skip the first heating process to 180 then? Have you ever tried that with these types of milk?

116 Sofya January 8, 2012 at 11:46 am

You are using what most people are using, and as far as I know, it is still important to pasteurize the milk again because who knows what could have invaded it between the factory and your making yogurt. You want a near-sterile medium for inoculation. I never tried not to do it because it made perfect sense to me.

117 Marcy January 31, 2012 at 7:15 am

I must tell you thank you for this WONDERFUL. Tutorial. I have been wanting to try my own yogurt for so long and your tutorial made it sound so easy. And it was!! I have made three batches in the last two weeks. My family gobbles it up almost quicker than I can make it. I have also been straining it for Greek type yogurt. But one very big addition is that I’ve been sharing it with my godparents, who are watching very closely their diet. My godfather, who like me, loves sour cream, is now using the ultra healthy non processed yogurt in stead of sour cream. And prefers it. And they both eat it daily. So I’m continuing to make it for them and for my family. So thank you!!! I’ve also passed this on to at least 10 people on Facebook who keep asking me what I use. I’ve also reprinted it (again) on pinterest! You are one popular gal in my house right now!!!

118 Sofya January 31, 2012 at 8:35 am

Thanks for letting me know, Marcy, this is great! I like to use it as sour cream as well.

119 Samantha February 15, 2012 at 5:46 am

You were right so excited to see if it turned out i could not sleep. YAY it is wonderfull!!

120 Andrea February 15, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I’ve made this crock pot yogurt about 4 times now with great success. This morning, I put the milk in the crock pot but forgot to plug it in! I must have been half a sleep still. After 2 hours and 15 minutes, I realized the milk temperature was just 48 degrees. I quickly plugged in the crock pot and am now waiting for it to get it up to about 180. Will this kill off any of the bad stuff that began growing during the first couple of hours between 37 and 48 degrees?

121 Sofya February 15, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Yes.

122 Neil February 19, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Nicely done! Thank you for posting such a thorough and well reasoned tour of yogurt making.

123 Erin February 22, 2012 at 5:22 pm

I’ve been making my own yogurt for a few months now using a recipe similar to yours. I just bought a thermometer and just started using raw goat’s milk instead of store milk and my yogurt turned out very different this time. When it was done it looked just like yours, only with a bit more whey floating on top. The texture, however, is awful! It’s very grainy, not at all smooth and creamy like the homemade yogurt I’m used to. It was worse after I strained it. Has this ever happened to you?

I know you suggested heating to 180 even with raw milk, but I wanted to try it once without doing that. Other than that the temperature was perfect – about 112 when I added the starter and 90-something when it was done. It cultured for about 11 hours. I used 4 T of store yogurt as a starter (this is more than you suggested but I was confused about my conversions when I added it). I used 1/2 gallon of milk that was about a week and a half to two weeks old. Thanks!

124 Sofya February 22, 2012 at 6:39 pm

I have never worked with goat milk but my best guess is your milk was too old and some natural bacteria in your milk interfered with the yogurt bacteria in a bad way. My policy is to always pasturize the milk and not use milk more than a week old.

125 Sara February 24, 2012 at 7:33 pm

After a year problem free I’ve had yogurt not set twice in the past little while. Too bad I didn’t remember this before I dumped it down the sink. (I think, as you say, it was too cold). Thanks!
Sara recently posted..Tartine’s Lemon Meringue CakeMy Profile

126 Sofya February 24, 2012 at 7:35 pm

That does happen sometimes.

127 Jeena Cho February 28, 2012 at 2:46 pm

I’ve followed your recipe exactly several times. It came out delicious! The major adjustment I made was the incubation temperature. I’ve found that oven light on wasn’t sufficient to get it warm enough to get the thick consistency I wanted. I put a heating pad inside the oven to raise the temperature to about 98 degrees and that seems to do the trick. Thanks for this recipe. We can never go back to store bought again!
Jeena Cho recently posted..Kitchen Therapy – Homemade Yogurt in Slow CookerMy Profile

128 Sofya February 28, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Yep, depends on your oven light. Mine seems to be pretty powerful.

129 Suzann Morton March 1, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Hi Sofya
Greetings from Bellingham WA – there be yogurt here! Made it the first time yesterday -really appreciated your step by step pictures tutorial (I’m a visual learner) and especially what to do if it decides not to become yogurt. I was pretty sure I would need that after drowning my thermometer while testing it for the 185 temp. Wrapped the pot in towels, ran to the store & bought one on a string! Hoping to get back before it went below the 110F. Apparently my crock pot is really slow to cool and I got back in plenty of time. As per your instructions into the oven it went with light. This morning I had granola with fresh yogurt. Will keep it plain, adding sweets sometimes, but plan on using it for cooking – stroganoff, etc. will try your garlic ranch. I used pasteurized, not homogenized, whole milk from a local dairy & plain greek yogurt as the starter.
Thank you so much, I just could not afford or eat as much commercial yogurt as the doctor recommended and never thought to use plain yogurt in place of sour cream. Am excited about finding ways to use this stuff. Your site rocks!

130 Sofya March 1, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Glad to hear! It might separate in stroganoff unlike sour cream but you might not mind. Just to let you know. U can make your own sour cream too but it’s not cheaper.

131 Laura March 3, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Hi Sofya–

Just heating the gallon of whole milk now. I have a very large oven (takes forever to heat up) and the light bulb has been burnt out for 2+ years (a pain to change and expensive, plus I am too busy to bother with changing it). So, I was wondering if I should heat the oven some to warm it up before putting the crockpot in there. I wouldn’t use the towel in that case as the oven might be on. I can keep the oven at 90-100 degrees (it is a fab Dacor so is designed for foodies like me :) ), but didn’t know if I should keep the oven on or heat it and then turn it off.

Would love your perspective. Also, how long does it normally take to cool a gallon of yogurt from 180 to 110 degrees? Wondering if I will get sleep tonight…

Thanks again!

132 Sofya March 3, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Hi Laura – it depends on where you heat it and how well that vessel keeps heat but could be three hours or more. As far as keeping the oven on or off I think that depends on how well insulated the oven is. If the oven is a nice one and keeps the heat well I say try off first, or on if you want more insurance. There are more ways to incubate too.

133 Laura March 4, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Woke up this morning and found awesome yogurt in my cold oven :). I turned it on 100 degrees when I put the yogurt in there (8 pm) and turned it off when I went to bed (11 pm). Overslept (yay!) so it was in there incubating for about 14 hours by the time I got to check on it at 10 am.

It was divine! It was firmer than my Dannon yogurt from the store and tasted great, very mild. It made about 4.5 quarts from one gallon which makes the savings on this unbelievable! I usually pay $2.50 for one quart. I got the milk free with a coupon (which is why I felt I could try it; nothing out of pocket, lol!), so I got over $11 worth of yogurt for the cost of 1 gallon of milk and my initial starter. What a deal!

Thank you so much for your help Sofya. I did not have an oven light and I didn’t do anything to incubate other that the towel over the crockpot. Apparently that was enough though, because the yogurt was awesome! So excited to do this! Will try 2% next time to cut back on the fat.

134 Sofya March 4, 2012 at 7:58 pm

So happy to hear it worked for you – looks like you’ve found a winning incubation routine. Thanks for trying and letting me know. Two percent should work great.

135 Joe1155 March 10, 2012 at 1:19 am

I began making yogurt at the end of last year after having to take 3 series of wide spectrum antibiotics for sinus infections. It is amazingly easy. I don’t have a yogurt maker or a crock pot. I heat the milk like you do and remove the skin. I found if you skip heating it to just under boiling, it doesn’t thicken as well. Let the mild cool down and add the yogurt culture. I preheat the oven to 50C, turn it off, leaving the light on. I wrap the pot with the milk mixture in it in a couple of kitchen towels and 8 to 12 hours later I have awesom yogurt.

I really enjoyed reading your method. I found your link on a recipe that you posted at grouprecipes.com.

136 Sofya March 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm

What I do is very similar, I don’t use a crock-pot either and haven’t since I wrote this post years ago.

137 Sheri March 13, 2012 at 3:22 pm

I just started making yogurt last month with non-fat ultra-pasteurized milk. It was a little on the runny side, but I was excited because how much money I would be saving. I came across your website and I tried using 2TBSP of my starter in a half-gallon as you suggested. Much thicker and better results with the same type of milk!!! Thanks so much.

138 Gillian March 18, 2012 at 7:21 pm

I just tried this yesterday and it came out really well! The taste is excellent and the texture good. It was definitely runnier at the bottom of the crock but still “yogurty”, definitely not milk — and the top few inches were very firm, just the way I like it. I used a crock pot and my landlady’s electric thermometer, and put it in the oven with the light on, wrapped in a towel. I did have to take it out for a couple hours and leave it on the counter as my landlady needed the oven but it doesn’t seem to have hurt my yogurt! I just wrapped it up snugly and popped it back in once the oven had cooled down again.

Thank you for this post! I’ve tried a few other ways of making yogurt but this was definitely the easiest and the best result.

139 Sofya March 18, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Thinner on the bottom is perfecly normal! Strain it through a cloth if you like it firmer. Thanks for trying.

140 Aimee March 27, 2012 at 6:14 am

Perhaps a few silly questions but a queries none the less;

Are you heating the milk in the slow cooker with or without the lid on?
Same goes for the oven; Is the lid of the slow cooker on or off?
Storage; Is it best to store in glass container or can I use tupperware?

Love, love, love the step by step and pics. Just want to get it all right.

141 Sofya March 27, 2012 at 7:47 am

Both with lid on so it can hold in the heat, very important. Store it in tupperware or glass, it makes no difference.

142 Juli March 29, 2012 at 9:51 am

I’ve been making yogurt for months after I stumbled upon this post. I had forgotten, however that failed yogurt can be made into ricotta….until I reheated failed yogurt and found ricotta in the morning!

The cheese had been sitting in its whey in the stoneware out on the counter wrapped in a bath towel all night. I strained it through a sieve and now it’s in the fridge.

I took a bite of it earlier and haven’t thrown up yet. I’m going to assume it’s okay. What do you think?

143 Sofya March 29, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Yes it is OK.

144 Jess April 24, 2012 at 8:24 am

Tried this yogurt last night. Worked wonderfully and love love love the wonderful silky texture of this yogurt.

145 Sofya April 24, 2012 at 10:43 am

Glad it worked for you! Thanks for letting me know.

146 lenka April 25, 2012 at 11:52 am

Made my first yogurt last night! LOVE IT!!
Only for next time I will set crock pot on HI….took five plus hours to reach the correct temp!
Stayed up late into night to finish,thank God it was cold outside so the milk cooled pretty fast!
I also make own Kefir with my milk grains and love it ;D

147 Sofya April 25, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Lenka, how about heating and cooling it in a stainless pot instead before pouring into a warmish crockpot (not a hot one).

148 lenka April 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Yeah,little nervous about heating it on the stove…..afraid of scorching the milk :(
I have nice stainless but went out to buy 2qt crock pot just for the yogurt

149 Sofya April 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm

No need to be nervous unless you don’t think you can be there the whole time it heats. I do all the time (over low to med-low heat and stir from time to time). Heats in 15 min.

150 lenka April 25, 2012 at 8:20 pm

I can do 15 min. :) thanks

151 Andrea May 3, 2012 at 8:57 pm

This is the best method I’ve found! I’ve been toying around with making my own yogurt for the past few months and always ended up with too thin a consistency. But with your method, no straining is necessary! Yay! Thanks for the tutorial!

152 Sandy May 7, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Sofya, My daughter-in-law sent me your website due to my first try at making my own yogurt; it turned out kind of runny. Or so I thought. I used a gallon of milk, thinking my husband and son would help me eat it. Anyway, I put it into 3 different containers and put into the fridge. After reading your blog I realized I’d made a mistake with the first container by stirring it when I first opened it. So I ended up getting to eat it all by myself and finished it off the AM. So I just opened the second container and tried just taking a spoonful at a time. It has thickened up and tastes better than the first.
My question is; can homemade yogurt be frozen so it doesn’t spoil?
Thank you for your blog. Am forwarding it to 2 of my nieces who live in Alaska.

153 Sofya May 7, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Hi Sandy, I never tried freezing mine – but there are soups and drinks you can make with the excess. Enter “yogurt” into the search box on my site and a few will pop up. Thanks!

154 Wendy August 4, 2012 at 1:21 am

Hi Sofya

Thanks for this great blog! Looking forward to trying our your dutch oven bread recipe!

I’ve just started making my own yogurt using a machine that makes 7 cup sized jars. (I know folks will frown on using a machine but it was cheap and simple to use and got me started before I knew these blogs existed!). Anyway my first batch of yogurt turned out great using skim milk (a runnier style but perfect with museli). My second batch used organic full fat milk and tasted great, was lovely and creamy too but it didn’t form any whey on top. After a couple of days in the fridge a fine white mold started to form and got thicker and thicker over the next few days. It looked like the mould you see on brie cheese!

By about day 5 the skin of mold could be lifted off in a solid piece but it had started to taint the flavour of the yoghurt at the top of the jar. I made a third batch using a bit of left over yoghurt from the second batch and the same thing started to happen with no whey and a white mold just starting to form a couple of days after refrigeration. Any idea what went wrong? I don’t think the fridge temperature is too warm and the milk had an expiry date long after I had bought it. I can’t recall what bacteria was in the starter but there were a few listedand it was active live culture. My recipe suggested using 200ml of starter with 1 litre of milk. Should I just start over with a fresh new starter? Hope you can help!

155 Sofya August 4, 2012 at 1:35 am

Hi Wendy,

To be honest with you, I have never had this experience myself. Did you bring the milk to 180 degrees first to kill every living thing in it before cooling it to the 110 degrees and inoculating it with the yogurt culture? This is something you need to do regardless of the type of milk you are using to assure that no foreign bacteria invade your yogurt.

I for some reason think that the milk brand here was the culprit (but that’s just me guessing). If it was me, I would start with a different type of milk and a new batch of yogurt.

Homemade yogurt in general is only good for about 5 days before it starts smelling funky.

Now, while this wouldn’t lead to spoilage, 200 ml of starter to 1 liter of milk is kind of a lot. I would use less. I use about 4 tablespoons of starter to 4 liters of milk.

156 Sarah August 8, 2012 at 9:29 am

Thank you for this very clear tutorial! I followed it, and made beautiful yogurt the first time ever! It’s so satisfying. Thank you Thank you.

157 Sofya August 8, 2012 at 9:56 am

Yay, great to hear!

158 Stacey Young August 9, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Sofya, Re: the thermometer you use – I bought one to use with my yogurt, this one here: http://www.amazon.com/ThermoWorks-Original-Cooking-Thermometer-Timer/dp/B0019R4HQQ/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1344555144&sr=8-3&keywords=thermoworks+thermometer – It looked good and got good reviews. However, it only beeps when going up and reaching a temperature, not going back down and reaching a temperature. I set the temp to 180, it reaches it, beeps, I then set the temp to 111, but then a couple minutes later it beeps again – and continues to beep every few minutes because it has already reached 180. It only knows how to alert you when it goes up to a temperature, but it doesn’t know how to count back down without beeping and alert you when it gets down to a new temperature. So, what I am wondering is, is the thermometer you use this way as well? Does it beep only at 180 but won’t go back down and beep at 111? Or are you able to have it go back down and beep again? Thanks so much!! Stacey

159 Sofya August 9, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I think that’s right. But the alarm part is not essential. You can return it and use your regular meat thermometer. Just remember to check the temp.

160 Stacey Young August 9, 2012 at 6:45 pm

I’m wondering if I should return it and get something else. Or, if I can just live with having to keep an eye on the temp/not being able to be alerted the second time around…. :)

161 Stacey Young August 11, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Thanks Sofya. :) My issue with the yogurt now is not being able to keep it at the correct temperature. I put it in my oven as described and left it, but after many hours it was still like milk – I know the problem was that I don’t have a pilot light – we have a light, but it’s an electric oven, so I think it was still too cold even with the light on. Although, I didn’t have the crockpot lid on – just a folded up towel over it inside – so I don’t know how much of a difference that makes – but still, I would think it would have turned out. So then I tried it back in the crockpot again, but I am finding out I have to be constantly keeping an eye on it, turning crockpot on and off repeatedly, to try to keep it at the right temperature. So I’m not having a good time with that! I then tried it in my rice cooker on a warm (lowest) setting and still that was way too warm. I guess I could try on my stovetop with a thermometer stuck in it and just leave it on there for a long time, but we only have 2 burners on the stovetop…. So, while I do like your method and wish it would work for me, I think I’m just going to buy a yogurtmaker. Something I didn’t want to do initially, because I know yogurt CAN be made without one. But I just cannot figure out how to do it, so I think I’m just gonna have to “bite the bullet” as they say and purchase one. At least that way I can get it at the right temp consistently like it needs to be.

162 Sofya August 11, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Hey Stacey, sounds like your oven’s light is not quite warm enough (I don’t have a pilot at all – who has pilots anymore? They are not safe!!!).

Not having the lid does make a difference. In your situation I would do a lid and a towel – like a thick bath towel, which I would wrap completely around the lidded crock-pot.

If you are OK making a gallon at a time, which is half of what I usually make weekly, you should be able to do it in a stainless steel pot with a lid and a towel wrapped around and the oven with light. The thing is, greater amount of milk keeps warm longer.

It’s also possible that your oven loses warmth quicker than mine.

Did you see this post? It talks about other ways to incubate (sans crock-pot), and just about the general “yogurt science.”

http://girlsguidetobutter.com/2011/11/fool-proof-homemade-yogurt-science-techniques-and-troubleshooting/

My own routine these days is this: 1.5 to 2 gallons of milk at a time in a stainless pot, heat then cool then inoculate then cover then I stick the whole thing into my oven with the (electrical, not pilot) light on, and then it’s done in the morning. Because of this great volume and its ability to keep the heat, it never fails (plus my oven is good at retaining heat I guess).

Anyhow, sorry it didn’t work for you. You could always buy a maker and return it if you don’t like it.

163 Stacie September 4, 2012 at 9:50 am

I tried this for the first time last night and it worked great (delicious); thank you. I ended up making a gallon as my crock pot was so big which leaves me with too much yogurt to eat in a week so thought I’d make ricotta with the other half. When you heat the yogurt back up on high, do you put the lid to the crock pot on, or heat it without a lid?

164 Sofya September 4, 2012 at 10:54 am

Oh, no, no! You don’t make ricotta out of yogurt – only out of FAILED yogurt, which is nothing other than milk with a little bit of acid in a form of yogurt starter. Yogurt as it is will not turn into ricotta – I guess that wasn’t clear. The thing to do with yogurt is to make yogurt cheese by straining it through a cheesecloth/flour sack towel. Or use it in one of these many delicious recipes:

How to Cook with Plain Yogurt: Recipes and Ideas

165 natasha September 20, 2012 at 11:41 am

I accidentally added the 2 T yogurt to the 190degree mixture instead of waiting for it to cool. Is it completely destroyed now? Should I continue on and let it lower and just place it in the oven still?
Thanks

166 Sofya September 20, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Yes. Make ricotta.

167 Julie November 1, 2012 at 10:00 am

After researching many recipes (including the many with powdered milk suggested), I found your blog! Thank you so much for sharing an absolutely perfect recipe. I followed it exactly, and (with my white crock pot), ended up this morning with yogurt that is amazingly thick and delicious. The first spoon looks just like your picture. I really can’t believe it. I’ve been making my own butter for awhile now, but I was afraid to try yogurt. I used whole organic milk (happened to be ultra pasturized and homogenized).

168 Sofya November 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Great, Julie, I am so glad!

169 Susan Kemp November 12, 2012 at 3:13 am

Hi there. I am interested, in South Africa we are paying through our noses for electricity, so one looks for the most economical way to heat. Could you heat the milk on the stove in s/steel pot to save time, and then pour it into the crock pot inner if the crock pot had heated up on the low setting. Then turn crock pot off and leave it covered in a towel? We have summer now with temps of 25-30 derees celcius? Obviously in the winter you would need the oven.
Thanks for the helpful info, was a raw milk

170 Sofya November 12, 2012 at 9:45 am

Yes – in fact, given that it’s so warm where you are, just heat it in stainless pot, and innoculate and incubate right in it, wraped in a thick bath towel and the oven light or some other warm place.

171 Janine L November 12, 2012 at 10:41 am

Just made my first ever batch of homemade yogurt following this recipe. It worked! Love your great directions! Only let it set for 10 hours so not as tart as I might like but excellent none the less. How many calories does it contain? I used skim milk. Seems like there wouldn’t be many more calories than what a normal glass of skim milk would hold since the amount of yogurt added is so small.

172 Sofya November 12, 2012 at 11:15 am

Glad it worked for you. Can’t tell you the calorie count. It will get WAY tarter as it sits in the fridge. If you want it tarter right away, leave at room temp for another 12 hours (24 or so total after adding starter).

173 tatiana November 12, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Hi Sofya,

I’ve been making my own yogurt for the last couple of months but in the last batch I used low fat milk that was frozen. It seemed to have too much water or something. It didn’t set. At all after about 20 hours. the bottom thirdr of the jar I use looks like cheese and the top 2 thirds were whey. I used some of the bottom cheese as a starter for a new batch assuming it contains the needed bacteria. Should I be expecting a failed batch??

174 Sofya November 13, 2012 at 12:02 pm

I think it should be fine – let me know when you find out! I think that freezing your milk has been the culprit in this case, although can’t say that I’ve got experience with making yogurt with once-frozen milk.

175 Saadia November 30, 2012 at 11:00 pm

I’m soooo glad I found this recipe! I’m lactose intolerant, and I read that fermenting the yogurt for 24 hours gets rid of all the lactose in the yogurt. I have a light in my oven, but my oven doesn’t have a window, so there is no light switch, the light just turns on when I open the oven. Is there any other successful way of incubating the crockpot for 24 hours? Thanks!

176 Sofya November 30, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Yes, wrap in a thick bath towel and put in a warm place.

177 Rachael Orman December 13, 2012 at 8:07 pm

I have to say this is my third attempt and third recipe and it is 2 hours from being ready to remove from the oven (to help it cool slowly) and it is looking better than the other two recipes I’ve tried.. I will check back in in the morning once it has cooled in the fridge.. I’m SOO hopeful this one turns out right!!

178 Sofya December 13, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Yay, good luck!

179 Rachael Orman December 13, 2012 at 10:31 pm

It’s finished and it’s Fantastic!!!! Thank you SOOO Much!

180 Sofya December 13, 2012 at 11:20 pm

Glad to hear! You know you can make flavored also – say add sugar and vanilla to taste at the time of the innoculation. Even thicker and so delicious. My kids love it. If you do that just be sure to reheat to 110 after all’s been added.

181 Debbe February 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Hi Sofya:

I only recently found your recipe for crock pot yogurt and I’m looking forward to making some. I’ve been making the Caspian Sea Yogurt, with success, but it tends to be fairly runny. Your’s looks firmer which is what I prefer. I’m wondering though…when I go on vacation for several weeks, can I freeze some of the yogurt so I can make more yogurt when I return? Will the cultures still be live when it thaws out?

182 Sofya February 22, 2013 at 4:08 pm

You know what, Debbe, I do not have an answer for you… but I am guessing not. I would google it again. You don’t need to bother though… just buy an individual container of life-culture yogurt when you come back and use that as starter.

I am wondering what Caspian Sea yogurt is, because I grew up in one of the major cities on the Caspian sea.

183 Debbe February 24, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Good Afternoon Sofya:

I wasn’t even thinking…duh, I could just purchase another container of yogurt to start a new batch. I had to purchase the Caspian Sea Yogurt (CSY) culture online since it’s not found in stores. My brain was thinking along the lines of not wanting to invest in another culture (They’re rather spendy).

Here’s a little info about the CSY also called Matsoni. Originating in The Republic of Georgia, Matsoni yogurt (pronounced Madzoon) is also known as Caspian Sea Yogurt.

Matsoni yogurt starter or Caspian Sea Yogurt contains live active bacteria and cultures at room temperature on the counter–no yogurt maker, water baths, multiple containers or crock pot required! It cultures best on the counter between 70-78°F, and takes between 12-18 hours from start to finish. It’s super easy to make and basically hands free. But due to the fragility of the yogurt, I am looking for something that is a bit firmer and doesn’t break down so easily when adding vanilla, fruit, etc to it.

184 Sofya February 24, 2013 at 1:45 pm

OK, then, that is the stuff I grew up with…

185 Debbe February 24, 2013 at 2:07 pm

What made you decide to start using the crock pot method instead of the Matsoni that you grew up with? For ease and length of time to make it the Matsoni (CSY) is great! Currently, I’m in the middle of making your crock pot yogurt and can’t wait to taste it when it is finished! I have a ways to go since I’m only on the cool down step but I hope to have it completed by the time I go to bed tonight.

186 Janine March 6, 2013 at 7:55 am

Hello Sophya,
So glad that I found your site. I lived for 11 years in Russia (mostly St. Petersburg & Moscow when My children were little). You would think one would not develop “nostalgia” since I’m not Russian, but I presume the food has a lot to do with it! Although I cook several of my favorite dishes, I have not made yoghurt on my own and want to try this. I was wondering if the ricotta you describe is really “tvorog”, like you can buy in the open markets. I adore your blog, recipes, homesteading, and all. Thank you!

187 Sofya March 6, 2013 at 8:28 am

Thanks! Ricotta is not tvorog, tvorog is farmer’s cheese. Ricotta is like what you put in lasagna. I have never made tvorog but thank you so much for reminding me of it, I will try now.

188 waylene May 20, 2013 at 4:30 pm

after incubating yogurt overnight in crockpot, it already looked like ricotta, did it get too hot?
thanks,

189 Sofya May 20, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Yes. The crockpot needs to be off…

190 Bill September 10, 2013 at 9:06 am

I’ve been heating 3 quarts of milk in the microwave for my yogurt, then had to take it out so it could cool, but this crock-pot method is much safer than handling that huge bowl of hot milk. Now I can make it by the gallon in a 6 qt crock (I have two). I make 12 hour yogurt which I have drained into Greek-style, so it has less sugar and lots more protein. I have sleep apnea, and it’s resulting tiredness, actually any tiredness at all, can make you hunger for simple carbs – but when I have yogurt on hand I’m okay, and I’m actually loosing some of the weight the apnea added on. (75 lbs in about 6 months)

I don’t have a pilot light or light bulb in my oven, but I found using a heating pad set on Medium – on a board – works perfect, keeping the yogurt at the perfect temperature. (I’ve a thermometer with a green area showing yogurt ferment range) This method also has two advantages, one is that the temperature is constant, and also if your milk is too cool to start the fermentation, the heating pad will gradually raise the temperature to the proper level to get get it going. My heating pad is a simple one, totally generic. Think was from Walmart.

Following is the web address for the thermometer I have, which came with the Yogourmet unit I bought I don’t use now.

http://www.amazon.com/Yogourmet-105-LS-9619-Yogurt-Thermometer/dp/B000N23Q1A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378820674&sr=8-1&keywords=yogurt+thermometer.

191 Xylina April 15, 2014 at 11:47 am

Does this work with homemade coconut milk or almond milk? My family can not have dairy.

192 Sofya April 25, 2014 at 9:00 pm

No. This is dependent on the proteins in real milk. Visit cultures for health website to buy a culture formulated especially for non-dairy milks.

193 Brianne April 24, 2014 at 11:44 pm

I just found your blog and can’t wait to check out more things on here! I have an old stove without a light…what would you suggest to keep that warm for the yogurt? Thanks!

194 Sofya April 25, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Wrap in a bath towel or baby blanket and put some place warm, like near the source of your heat in your house (radiator, wood stove, forced heat register, etc.)

195 Sarah May 22, 2014 at 3:50 pm

You are a miracle worker! I had a bowl full of milk in my fridge from a failed yogurt attempt, so I put it in my crockpot and now I have ricotta! Thank you so much!!
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196 Crystal June 12, 2014 at 7:07 am

I just have one quick question, I have been making this yogurt for quite a while and always have good success, but I have a problem. I made some yesterday and was expecting to wake up to yogurt this morning. But when I got up what I realized was in my crazy hectic day I did all my steps, but forgot to add the yogurt! What in the world was I thinking, but anyway can I go ahead and reheat the milk and try again?

197 Sofya June 20, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Yes, indeed you can! But I would bring it to a simmer first to sterilize it again, as it sat out for a period of time at room temp. Then cool to the right temp and add the starter.

198 t4mk4t June 24, 2014 at 8:50 am

Thanks for this post! I have tried countless ways to turn raw goat’s milk into delicious, tart, Bulgarian-style yog and this technique has by far yielded the best and most consistent results for me! I made three quarts in the crockpot (since you mentioned keeping it warm was a challenge I decided to fill ‘er up) with fresh, raw goat’s milk and the results were tasty and thicker than I have ever managed with other methods! Since goat’s milk is naturally homogenized I only had a thin skin to scrape off before inoculation. I popped it in the oven with the lights on (had them on ahead of time to get things warmed up) and monitored the temp and was delighted to see it hanging right around 95 degrees. Let it set, completely undisturbed (I used to stir my baby yog every time I checked it! I had no idea I was ruining it) for ~21 hours–results creamy, sweet-tart and with a lovely (not-goaty) fragrance…will use some to make the yog soup recipe on your blog!

Thanks so much!!
~tam

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