Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Those Expensive Yogurt Drinks - Homemade!

So, I tried my hand at crock pot yogurt yesterday. Somebody commented on Crystal's blog that you can make yogurt in your crock pot and I was more than curious so I did a little research. I looked into what worked for who and what ingredients worked the best. I tweaked a recipe and created my own after learning the ins and outs of yogurt making.

What resulted was better than I had expected, although not quite what I had hoped for. I am more than pleased. (variations and tips are at the bottom of the post)

You will want to start this project first thing when you wake up, or late afternoon.
  • 1/2 gallon whole milk (8 cups)
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1 small package flavored Gelatin, sugar free or sugary (I used strawberry)
  • Sugar or sugar substitute to taste
Step 1: Clean your crock pot well, add the milk and put the lid on it. Turn it on low and let it cook for 2.5 hours. Then turn it off and let the milk sit for 3 hours.

Step 2: Take out a few cups of milk and put it in a bowl. Mix this with the yogurt and gelatin and then pour the milk mixture back into the crock pot, stirring until combined.

Step 3: Place the lid back on the crock pot and heat on low for only about 5 minutes. Turn it off and wrap a thick bath towel over and around it for insulation. Double check that the crock pot is off and leave it alone for 8 hours.

Don't peek.

If yours turns out like mine you will have a thickish mixture when you are finished but it won't be nearly as thick as store bought yogurt. This is okay - there are many delicious uses for this mildly sweet yogurt goop. Go ahead and refrigerate the goop until it is nice and cold. I let mine refrigerate overnight.

I am not one to waste anything so here is what I did with it after I got over my disappointment that it wasn't as thick as your typical yogurt.
I mixed it again in the bowl with a spoon and then put a few cup fulls in my blender along with a couple tablespoons of sugar. This made a delicious yogurt drink that my kids loved. They adore those expensive Yoplait yogurt drinks that cost 3 or 4 bucks at the store. I never buy them but did get some for free once and they loved them.

They told me that my concoction was way better.

Then, I took what was left, blended it up well, and put it in the Gelataio Ice Cream Boy we got at a garage sale a few years ago.
This is an easy machine - just dump in your mix and turn on . It makes the ice cream, or in my case, frozen yogurt without any work on my part. However, you should be able to use any ice cream maker for this. I made sure to add in enough sugar to sweeten it up nicely and what resulted was a very smooth frozen yogurt with a yummy strawberry flavor. It made a lot, too.

The cost breakdown for this was:
$1.55 for the half gallon of whole milk
$.20 for the Gelatin (on sale)
$.25 for the Yogurt (with coupons)

To buy these treats premade at the grocery the store will cost around $15. Those yogurt drinks are expensive and your really don't get that much for your dollar.

This cost me around $2 plus the cost of the sugar I added (maybe about 1/2 cup total or less). I got about a quart of yogurt drink and a little more than that in frozen yogurt. The yogurt drink is gone but will be rationed better next time - it will last in the fridge for about a week or so. The frozen yogurt is in the freezer for dessert tonight and will provide for a yummy dessert on another night, too. You can't beat that for a family of 8!

Blend your yogurt drink with fresh or frozen fruit to make a yummy fruit shake.
**Use unflavored gelatin and yogurt in the initial recipe and then sweeten as you desire afterwards for a healthier treat. Or skip the gelatin altogether if aren't concerned about thickening as much.
**Change up the gelatin flavor as your little heart pleases for a variety of possibilities.
**When flavoring plain yogurt try unsweetened Kool-ade. This is very cheap and will allow you to control the flavor and sweetness separately.
**If making frozen yogurt out of it try using flavored coffee creamer and/or brewed coffee for a cappuccino flavor.

I could go on and on with the tips. There are so many possibilities here. Just play around with it.


shawna said...

Hey there - just wanted to mention that you can definitely make the yogurt thicker. I did it this past weekend using just whole milk and yogurt starter (no sugar or gelatin). When your yogurt is fully made, line a mesh strainer with a paper towel, hang over another bowl, and pour the yogurt onto the paper towel. Let it drain until the yogurt is as thick as you like.