Thursday, February 20, 2014

50 ways to brew your yogurt ...

Warming and cooling the milk are important steps in making yogurt.

As I mentioned in my last blog, homemade yogurt (fermented for 24-36 hours) is a central feature of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). Since I talked about it, several of my friends have asked me how to make it. If you search the Internet, you will find a multitude of ways—fifty, at least--to go about it.

Being a HUGE fan of my slow cooker, the first time I tried it I used a recipe from the Skinny GF Chef for her “Homemade Crock Pot Greek Yogurt.”  The result was truly amazing and fairly simple. Here is her recipe along with my observations:

Homemade Crock Pot Greek Yogurt


You will need a Crock Pot and a meat or candy thermometer.  (Celiyak: My meat thermometer didn’t go low enough to measure the fermentation temperature, so I had to purchase a new one.)

  • 100 ounces of milk of your choice (or depending on the size of your Crock Pot, pour in enough to fill your Crock Pot 3/4 full) (Celiyak: 100 oz. is about 12 ½ cups.)
  • 1/2 cup of yogurt with live active cultures, room temp.  Or you can buy a dry starter and follow the directions  (I started with commercial plain yogurt and now use 1/2 cup of my last batch) (Celiyak: I used The Greek Gods Greek Yogurt, Traditional Plain. Many SCD followers reject using yogurt from your last batch to start a new batch.)
  • Honey or Vanilla Liquid Stevia to taste-opt. (Celiyak: I didn’t do this. I love it just as it is—and SCD doesn’t allow Stevia.)


  1. Warm your oven to 110 degrees and turn on the light  (leave the light on for 24 hours) (Celiyak: I used an oven thermometer to measure my oven temperature. It was a perfect 110 degrees with the light on! No warming.) 
  2. I fill my large Crock Pot about 3/4 full or approx. 3/4 of a gallon of milk.  I have a little hole in my lid and insert a meat thermometer. (Celiyak: The hole in my lid was too small, so I just inserted the thermometer at the edge of the crock, trying not to lift the lid too much.)
  3. Turn the Crock Pot on High and cover, let the milk heat to 185-190 degrees.  Sometimes mine goes a little higher.  It's fine as long as you don't scorch the milk.  You want it to just begin to simmer on the outside edges. (Celiyak: This took a couple of hours in my Crock Pot.)
  4. Now let the milk cool in the covered Crock Pot until it registers 110-115 degrees.  You should be able to stick your finger in and hold it for 10 seconds without burning. It must be cool enough before you add the starter or the heat will kill the beneficial bacteria. (Celiyak: The cooling process took another three hours.)
  5. Put the 1/2 cup of yogurt starter in a small bowl and add a cup of the warm milk, a little at a time to temper, or if using a dry starter follow the package directions.
  6. Stir the small bowl of yogurt milk mixture into the large pot of your Crock Pot.
  7. Put the cover on the Crock Pot and place in your (110 degree) warm oven with the light on.  Snugly cover the pot with a blanket or several large beach towels.  Some people replace the light bulb with a 60-watt but mine does fine as is. 
  8. Leave the covered Crock Pot in the oven for 24 hours in order to get the full benefit of the lactose-eating bacteria.  Keep the door closed and the light on. Having an oven thermometer is helpful too. 
  9. After 24 hours remove the pot and either strain for Greek yogurt or ladle directly into clean containers.  Refrigerate.

The slow cooker version is fairly easy, although I spent a lot of time during those first five hours measuring the temperature. The other drawback of this method is that my oven is engaged for 24 hours.

Take care in adding the starter culture to
your batch.
The second method I tried was using a yogurt maker. The Yogourmet seems to be the most popular brand among SCD dieters, so that’s what I ordered from Amazon. At the same time, I ordered three boxes of Yogourmet starter culture and a lamp dimmer switch. (You can also find Yogourmet starter culture and other starters at health food stores—just avoid those that have bifidus, if you’re following SCD--and you can purchase a lamp dimmer switch at home stores like Lowe’s or Target.)

Here’s my version of the Yogourmet Yogurt Recipe:

  • 2 quarts milk of your choice (I use reduced fat, but you can even use skim or soy milk. With skim, you’ll need to add a packet of unflavored gelatin to skim to get it to thicken up.)
  • Yogourmet Starter mix

Yogourmet freeze-dried
yogurt starter
  1. Pour two quarts of milk into a pot and heat on the stove until the milk reaches a temperature of 180 degrees F (82 degrees C on the thermometer that comes with the maker). Then let it cool down to 108-112 degrees F (42-44 degrees C). You can set your pot in a sinkful of cold water to speed the process.
  2. When the milk has cooled, pour 10 g. of starter into a cup and gradually add approximately 5-6 T of cooled milk to the starter, stirring until it is dissolved. Then add the dissolved starter to the remainder of the milk and stir well.
  3. Place the mixture into the Yogourmet batch container and follow the manufacturers directions. If you are not following the SCD diet, your yogurt will be ready in about four hours. If you are following the SCD diet, you must let your yogurt ferment for 24-34 hours. This is where the dimmer cord comes in. The Yogourmet runs a bit warmer than the recommended 105-110 degrees F, so you can use the switch to bring the temperature down to the proper level. I made a mark on mine to show where to set the dimmer switch.

No matter how you choose to make your yogurt, I promise that it will become easier with practice. The pleasant taste, health benefits, and lower cost (vs. store bought brands) are definitely worth the effort!