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When I am not playing Candy Crush, I spend time browsing through my Facebook feed. It helps me catch up with friends from afar and on the rare occasion, inspires me.  My friend from High School, Dineida, has given her lifestyle and diet a total makeover and she posts her progress on facebook. One of her photos made me completely obsessed with Google and food blogs: homemade yogurt.

Here is a girl who cooks to nourish herself, not someone who loves to cook- but the photo of her homemade yogurt had me researching for DAYS how to make my own. From experience, making yogurt can be a very tricky thing. And while even the slightest mistake can ruin a batch of yogurt, its really not that hard. So, bear with me while I go through how I made yogurt… and how I accidentally made cheese.

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First, you don’t need a fancy yogurt maker… although I feel that might be the most idiot proof method. I used a pot the first time and then when that flopped, I used my crock pot and got much better results.

What you need:

1 large pot, crock pot, rice cooker or yogurt maker (enough to hold half gallon of milk)

1/2 gallon of milk ( I used skim milk)

2 T plain non fat yogurt (Or 2 T of homemade yogurt, or yogurt starter)

thermometer

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Since my crock pot vessel is microwavable, I filled my crock pot vessel with skim milk and put it in the microwave for 12 minutes. Or until the milk was 190*.  I then placed the vessel in an ice bath to bring the temperature to 110*.

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Once it reaches 110 degrees, add the live cultures (or non fat yogurt) and mix really well. Cover the crock pot vessel and wrap in a blanket then place in the oven at 100 degrees. Leave overnight or at least  8 hrs.

This last part should be a cinch but this seems to be where I either have success or major failure. My oven’s lowest setting is 200* which is too high for the live cultures doing their job of making yogurt. So, I had to tweak the best way to get my yogurt. I tried leaving the vessel on the warm setting of the slow cooker… but that yielded less than desirable results (which you read about later in this post).  After reading tons of blogs I found the best method for my yogurt to thrive in was resting wrapped in a blanket in a preheated oven. So, I covered the crock pot vessel with its lid, then wrapped it in a blanket and placed it in a warm oven.

I went to bed and woke up to YOGURT!

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At this point, you have the option to strain it to make your very own greek yogurt but the amount of yogurt will significantly decrease from 1/2 a gallon to 2 cups! Appreciate the price you pay for your greek yogurt- its expensive for a reason.

You will know when the yogurt is done, it should feel like yogurt. If its runny, something went wrong. You can strain it through several paper towels in  a strainer or if you’re freaked out by it, toss it. My first batch was too runny because the cultures weren’t warm enough.

I placed my yogurt in mason jars because they look pretty… but you can pretty much use a clean tupperware or old yogurt container, just as long as it can be sealed. Store it in the fridge while I went to work.

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I had some yogurt and granola for dinner. I seasoned it with some honey, a drizzle of vanilla and a packet of sugar. It was amazing. It was really cheap to make and it made a ton!

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The following morning, BR and I had a hefty bowl of fresh yogurt with berries, granola and honey.

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It was filling and overall amazing. I think mostly because I couldn’t wrap my brain around the fact that I made this.

I got ahead of myself and made another batch a few days later. Remember earlier in the post? I messed up a batch of yogurt. I read that I could have a creamier and thicker yogurt if I kept it on the warm setting of my crock pot.

Only, I never checked the temperature my “warm setting” is… its actually really hot. So after letting the sit in the warm setting overnight, the results in the morning were like cottage cheese.

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Turns out, the cultures were working overtime because the conditions were so warm and the end result is what they like to call “yogurt cheese”. I put the “yogurt” in the fridge and read that I should strain it and enjoy it. IMG_0707

So, I strained it and added some thai chili paste, salt, garlic and pepper. The liquid that comes out is pure whey and its said to be awesome to save for drinks and shakes (think whey protein). But I let it go down the drain.

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I had about 2 cups of yogurt cheese after straining. It was pretty thick stuff.

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Surprisingly, it reminded me of a ricotta cheese, or even a cream cheese. BR and I are huge fans of cheese and crackers so having a jar of homemade cheese on hand was quite nice! And it was fat free cheese- win!!!

I have been saving lots of money on yogurt these days- pretty awesome stuff. Now that berries are in season- I have been going yogurt crazy.

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