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I didn’t think that Greek Yogurt would be that much different than the yogurt I usually bought, until I tried it.  The fact that it has twice the protein doesn’t hurt either.  But I have a really hard time paying over a dollar ($1.25) for 6 oz.   So I decided to try and make some Greek yogurt of my own.  I finally found some plain Greek yogurt that listed 5 different active bacteria, just what I needed for my start.  It works a little different than Kefir, but not so much that you can’t make 2 quarts of yogurt for about the cost of three 6 oz. cups.  Yes!  Also, you add your own sweetening and or fruits, plus you can keep the last 6 ounces for your start in the next batch.
 
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Step 1:

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Supplies:
6 oz. of plain, active culture Greek yogurt
3 quarts skim milk
Crockpot/slow cooker
Quart jar
Spoon
Cup
Thermometer
Oven or Wonder Box (not shown, directions found here, http://thermalcooker.wordpress.com/category/thermal-cookers/wonderbox/)

Step 2:

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Pour 3 quarts of skim milk into the slow cooker.  Put in on “warm” and let the milk slowly get up to 140°.

Step 3:

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I checked it every 1 hour or so.  It took my slow cooker 5 hours to get up to the required temp.

Step 4:

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Once the milk has reached the required temperature, mix the 6 oz. of yogurt with a cup of the warm milk.  Mix them well.  Pour the yogurt mixture with the rest of the warm milk, mix well and put the lid back on.

Step 5:

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At this point I put the stoneware part of my slow cooker into the Wonder box.  This will hold the temperature for long enough for the lactase (milk sugar) in the milk to be eaten by the culture bacteria and ferment the milk into yogurt.  The yogurt will need to be in the box for 8-10 hours.  If you don’t have a Wonder box, heat your oven to 120° and put the stoneware with the milk in it, into the oven.  Turn off the heat and let it sit in the oven for 8-10 hours.  Any longer than that and the yogurt will go a step further and make cheese curds.  Now cheese curds have their place in the world, but I want yogurt.

Step 6:

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You will know you have reached the right stage when you open the lid and you see a layer of whey on top of the yogurt.  Whey is the yellowish fluid that is left over from yogurt or cheese making. 

Step 7:

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Take a spoon and dip off as much whey as you can into the quart jar.  Whey is great to use in baking, especially in baking things that normally have milk in the recipe.  If you don’t want to use it for baking, use it to water plants that like acidic conditions like strawberries, raspberries and roses.  That works.  So I will use this whey in my next batch of wheat bread.

Step 8:

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Put your yogurt into a storage container and store in the fridge, thus slowing down the fermentation process, using as you will, and saving the last 6 oz. to use as your start in your next batch of yogurt.

Step 9:

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I like honey on mine.  YUMMMMMM! Enjoy!
JonT35 months ago

OMG 140F is way too high to add your yogurt culture! I'm surprised it survives. As well, it's usual to use a higher temperature initially, the usual instructions are to scald on the stovetop, but then you have to watch it carefully to avoid burning. The purpose of the initial heating is to make sure that any possible competing organisms are killed. (Even though you are using, I hope, pasteurized milk to start with, since it would be a waste of money to buy raw milk and then pasteurize it yourself.)

At 5 hours, though, you can at least be sure that you've killed all of the organisms that you encouraged to grew while you slowly brought it through the danger zone....

If you happen to have a sous-vide water bath, it is super easy. I start with hot water from the tap. It takes make 15 minutes or so to bring the water to 180F from tap. I put mason jars in the bath right away, and once up to 180, hold it there for 1/2 hour. Probably way more than needed. You would not want to drink the milk, it would have an off-taste, but it doesn't affect the taste of the yogurt.

You need to let it cool to around 115F before adding the yogurt culture. You can leave it out on the counter and take periodic measurements. I've finally just started scooping some water out of the bath and adding ice, after setting the temp. down from 180F to 110F.

I culture for 18 hours at 110F. It will give a nice-consistency that will not drain out whey as long as it is stored in a glass jar and is not disturbed too much. I think it is probably impossible to ship natural yogurt without having it separate, and certainly not in a plastic tub. That's why they load-up some store brands with gelatin or other stabilizers, add nonfat dry milk powder, etc. There's one brand of Bulgarian yogurt that comes in a glass jar, and in fact that's what I used for my starter. But from the store it is runny and has an unappealing texture. But tasty.

I make 1 quart of Greek from 3 quarts of regular. Then I have 1 quart of regular left, or use the milk for other purposes. It's actually a decent monetary proposition, because even a gallon of really high-quality organic, non-GMO milk will come out to less than a quart of high-end Greek plus a quart of milk or regular yogurt. If you go crazy and use Jersey milk, or goat or sheep's milk, of course it will cost more. (Jersey = crazy expensive.) You only need to buy some yogurt for starter once. I save a bit for the next batch in a half-pint mason jar so that I don't forget and eat it!

darman121 year ago
I found an awesome brand of greek yogurt called Zoi. I buy a 32 oz container of it for about $2. I actually like it better than the big brands like Yopa and Oikos.
Sorry if this kills the DIY spirit.
This is great.. I love trying to do things on my own! But if your concerns are strictly monetary, why not just by a large container of plain, and spoon it out into small cups to take with you to work or to snack on? Then you could add whatever you wanted to make different kinds - fruits and such, even honey!

Kind of like how people waste so much money on snack size chips when they could just put some from a regular bag in a zip-lock... I just don't get it!
I have a similar monetary concern. Let me explain to you economy of scale: I go through about a gallon of yogurt a week since I also use it to replace cream and sour cream and mayonaise and I make frozen yogurt and bread toppings and I eat it for breakfast with granola, and El Boyfriend eats just as much as me... trust me when I say there is no tub sold at a normal supermarket that is big enough to serve all my yogurt needs.
I love greek yogurt with granola! Amazing.
bucklipe2 years ago
While your pictures show that you got a thick and apparently yummy mixture, usually if you put live cultures (even when tempered in the cup) into 140 degrees milk it usually dies. Most yogurt/kefir recepes have you add the culture to the milk after it cools to around 105 to 115 degrees. Then you keep it warm to encourage the wee beasties to do their thing. How does the bacilli stay alive in your setup???
craftknowitall (author)  bucklipe2 years ago
Thanks I will keep that in mind.
Mhbaben3 years ago
This really does look great. I thought Greek yogurt was made out of richer milk than American and that is what gave it a thicker consistency. Is your finished yogurt as thick as your purchased? Also, do you think putting the slow cooker insert could be put in a cooler wrapped in cloth instead of a "wonderbox"?
Great info, thanks
craftknowitall (author)  Mhbaben3 years ago
Since greek yogurt is fat free and they can't take the fat away after they make it, it makes sense that they use skim milk, and it is just as thick. The insert could be in a cooler wrapped in cloth, because that is basically what a wonder box is. Or in a warm (but turned off) oven for over night. Thanks for looking.
Actually, traditional Greek yogurt has 9-10% milk fat (compared to 3.5% or so in regular yogurt). Non-fat Greek yogurt is purely a concession to our current cultural freakout over fat. The brand you picture, Greek Gods, has a full-fat Greek yogurt as well as the non-fat variety. Full-fat Greek yogurt has an INCREDIBLY smooth body and creamy mouth-feel, scoops almost like ice cream, and will blow skim-milk yogurts away. Greek yogurt can be made with whole milk or even (as I do it) with raw whole milk. However, in order to be Greek yogurt, you must strain the whey out - not just dip it off the top. Its thickness when compared to regular yogurt is because so much of the liquid gets strained out. Try straining your yogurt through a coffee filter or finely woven cloth.

Also, for more alternatives to the "Wonder Box" idea, Google haybox or hayboxing. I learned about hayboxing from my grandmother who grew up a ranch foreman's daughter during and after the Dust Bowl; they used to use hayboxes to cook dinner for the ranch hands.
craftknowitall (author)  maka2 years ago
Thanks for the info.!
Absolutely! :)
Thanks for not calling me a snotty know-it-all. ;) It happens on this site often. I just like sharing information with folks.
craftknowitall (author)  maka2 years ago
I would never say that, because if I know something, I share it too. It's called teaching. Have a great day!
Ez-Kabob3 years ago
Looks fun and yummy!