I'm making my first batch of yogurt tonight! I've been wanting to try this for a while, but I thought you had to have a yogurt maker. I looked at several yogurt makers online and was unsure about which one to get. Luckily, before I ordered one, I found the directions for making yogurt in a crock pot. Since I already have a crock pot, it makes sense to try this method first.
Here's what you do (this and more info can be found here)...
Plug in your crock pot and turn it on low. Add 8 cups (1/2 gallon) of whole milk. Cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours.
Unplug your crock pot. Leave the cover on and let it sit for 3 hours.
After 3 hours, scoop out 2 cups of the milk and put it in a bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup store-bought yogurt with live cultures. (After you've made a batch, you can keep some of your homemade yogurt to start a new batch.) Dump the contents back into the crock pot; stir to combine and replace the lid. Keep it unplugged and wrap a heavy bath towel around the crock pot for insulation. Go to bed or let it sit for 8 hours.
In the morning, the yogurt will have thickened, but it's not as thick as store-bought yogurt. If you want, blend in fruit. Chill in plastic containers in the fridge. It will last 7 to 10 days. Save 1/2 cup as a starter for your next batch.
My yogurt is currently at the "let it sit for 3 hours" stage. At 11:30 I'll add the 1/2 cup of store-bought yogurt. In the morning I'll have homemade yogurt! I don't know about you, but I get tired of buying all those plastic yogurt containers that don't recycle (at least they don't around here). I've been using some to store things like beads, crayons, and marbles for the kids, but I've still got a huge pile in my laundry room. (I wonder if a local daycare might be able to use them for crafts?) I also like to save money when I can. Today I bought a quart of yogurt for $2.28 and a gallon of milk for $2.68. After some calculating...If I end up with 2 quarts of yogurt, I will have paid $0.67 per quart (plus $0.29 for the yogurt I used as a starter). Not bad!