(The front of my crockpot is more disgusting than I realized. The inside is fine.)
I love yogurt, and I can go through yogurt like water, but I end up feeling guilty over the plastic containers. We tend to buy it in the big containers and reuse them (they make great containers for buying stuff from the bulk bins at the co-op) but they're still going to end up in a landfill eventually (Greensboro is weird about plastic recycling). Also, my favorites are Brown Cow cream top and a yogurt style goat cheese, neither of which are terribly cheap, even on sale.
So I'd been thinking about a yogurt maker, but further poking around the internets yesterday showed that you don't necessarily have to have a yogurt maker, but it gets complicated. I am unlazy enough to contemplate making my own yogurt, but lazy enough that breaking out our non-existent candy thermometers yesterday was not appealing (let's save that for when I actually try making my mom's peanut brittle this holiday season. Best peanut brittle ever.)
So I did some more looking, and you can make yogurt in your crockpot. Now that's more my speed.
It was, in fact, as easy as it sounds. I boiled some water in the teakettle to rinse out the measuring cup (the co-op only had whole milk in gallons, so the rest went in the freezer) and the crock pot, just in case, dumped the milk into the crock on low and left it for 2.5 hours. I turned it off and let it sit for three. Then I mixed in my starter (the only plain yogurt the co-op had), wrapped the crock up in towels, and we went to bed.
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect this morning when I got up, but ... "I'll be dipped" (one of Jeff's expressions) "this is yogurt." It's loose, and it's tart, but it's yogurt. It's in the fridge to see if it'll set up a bit, and I was aiming for tart - I'd rather start with tart and sweeten, then start with commercial sweet. If it doesn't set up to commercial thickness, I can try adding some milk powder next time.
I normally pay between $3.50 and $4.50 for 32 ounces of Brown Cow cream top (depending on if it's on sale, plus my discount for being on the board). Instead, for half of a gallon of local milk (about $2, I can't find my receipt right now) and half a cup of commercial organic yogurt (50 cents) and a little of my time and electricity (we're going to hook up the Kill-A-Watt and see just how much electricity the crockpot uses) I got 80 ounces of yogurt. I'm impressed.
We'll see how it tastes after it sets up.
[eta]: 3 hours later: it's definitely thicker, though not what I'd call set. Set enough for me, but if you like your yogurt thick, do the gelatin or dried milk thing (and I probably will next time just to see how it turns out.) Tart like Greek yogurt, perfect with a little granola (something I need to start homemaking again after we're done with this last bit of store bought.) A+++++++, will make again. After we eat all this. Which may be awhile. :)