22 January 2009

Yogurt Tweak

For those of you who've tried the crockpot yogurt recipe I posted last week, I've figured out how to make it in about 5 hours instead of the 13 1/2 hours of the original recipe.

Most yogurt instructions say that you have to heat the milk or cream very hot and then let it cool to between 110o and 115o, as did this original recipe (heat on low for 2 1/2 hours, then cool for 3 hours).  This step is included to pasteurize the milk.  However, if you're using pasteurized milk, you can simply heat the milk to the target temperature and then add your cultures.  In my crockpot set on low, with a half gallon of liquid starting at fridge temperature, that takes an hour to an hour and twenty minutes.  After checking the temperature with a meat thermometer (making sure the thermometer doesn't touch the bottom or sides of the crock!), I add the cultures, turn off the pot, and wrap it in a big beach towel.  It finishes incubating in about 4 hours, not the eight called for in the original recipe.

By doing it this way, I've cut the heating time, eliminated the cooling time, and cut the incubating time, resulting in more flexibility in my day; I can start it at noon and still be able to put it into the fridge before dinner.

Now that I know how long it takes to heat up, next time I'll be able to rely more on the clock to know when to check it.  Play with your own set-up.  The temp in your fridge and your individual crockpot may require more or less time than mine, but once you've figured it out, it should get easier from there.  And some folks think science isn't useful in every day life!



  1. Thanks, Lynne. I realized this should be an easy tweak when I made a batch last week, though I didn't want to mess with the original too much the first time. Yours is a smart fix unless you like that slightly scorched flavor (as in a custard or similar).

  2. We miss the yogurt that we ate in Paris and hoping that this will be a close approximation. The yogurt here in the States is WAAAAAAYYYY to sweet and we don't need that much sugar. I am excited to try this and see how the family responds.

  3. Ok, I hadn't tried the full-version, but started with your tweaked version. 4 hours later, the milk is still at the correct temperature, but it's still the consistency of milk....any suggestions?

  4. Mystie, first, welcome to my blog!

    About the yogurt - It can take a bit more than 4 hours. Sometimes up to 5. When it sets up, it does so fairly quickly. There have also been times when I've gotten a bit impatient. I'll turn the crockpot on low for about 10 minutes. I'm not sure if that actually helps or if it's just time for it to set up and if I'd waited it would have worked anyway, but it might be worth a try.

    Let me know how it goes.

  5. Oh, a question - I've never measured the temperature after it's set up. What temp did you get after four hours?

  6. about 110, 115, but it got up to 150 before I unplugged it. Do you think that messed it up?

    I was surprised it was not set at all. I also realized after the fact that I didn't follow the directions completely: I whisked the yogurt starter directly into the crockpot, I didn't take some out, whisk it, then stir to combine. Could that have wrecked it?

    It's still wrapped in a towel, I'll have to set my alarm clock and hope it's set in a couple more hours.

  7. If you add the cultures when the temp is over 115 degrees, you'll kill them. If the temp is under 110, they'll remain dormant, i.e. they won't 'wake up' and multiply.

    However, all is not lost. If you have more yogurt/cultures, you can add them now since your milk is between 110 and 115 degrees. Then unplug your crockpot, wrap it up in a towel and let it sit for 4-5 hours or overnight if it's bedtime where you are.

    You'll want to chill it before eating it, but it should be set by tomorrow morning if you add more cultures.

    If you don't have any more cultures, I'd put the milk in jars in the fridge and try again tomorrow after you've had a chance to buy some more.

    Next time, only heat it up to 110-115 before adding your cultures and letting it incubate. (I've found that closer to 115 (113-114) gives me a better texture than closer to 110.)

  8. Thank you!! I don't have more on hand, but I will try again. :)

  9. One more thing: by the time 4-5 hours have passed, the crockpot is only slightly warm, it's not too hot to handle.

    The 110-115 degree temperature activates the cultures and then when the crockpot is unplugged, the radiant, leftover heat is enough to incubate the yogurt.

  10. I had one more thought, Mystie.

    While I would try to use the milk again the next day to make yogurt, if it smells at all off, I'd throw it away. If it smelled okay in the morning, I'd probably follow the original recipe to make sure that any germs are killed.

  11. Oops...went off to bed and didn't check again before going at it. :)

    It smelled fine and I used it again with the shortcut recipe. It worked!! And, I'm not sick. :)

    We shouldn't have that problem again, anyway.

    Thanks for your help!