22 January 2009
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!