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Making Yogurt – Slow Cooker Method or Cooler Method?

by | Nov 21, 2013

Yep, I just started making yogurt a few weeks ago. Now, look at me posting about it like I’m an expert or something.

(No, I’m not going to go through how to make yogurt. If you search “make yogurt in a slow cooker,” you get exactly one million bajillion results. I learned how to make it from this blog. The basics: heat milk, cool milk, add a little yogurt, wait. If you can handle that, you too can make yogurt.)

Well, after making a few rounds of yogurt, I messed up a batch. Nothing says “semi-pro” like having a few screw-ups under your belt.

It was my third or fourth round. After enjoying a nice smooth top and thick, tangy yogurt the first few times out, I ended up with this.

See that on top? Whey separated out and the yogurt was chunk-nasty throughout. What went wrong?

Well, a quick Google search revealed that I had torched it. This happens when the cultures go beyond 120F.

I know exactly when it happened. I took a temp an hour in, and I found that the temperature dropped below 105F. So, I figured I would turn on the slow cooker for a few minutes to get it back up between 110-120F, where it needed to be.

I did this very un-scientifically. Meaning, I left the thermometer in the drawer, and instead judged by touch.

And that’s why it came out funny.

Even though I’d realized what I did, I figured I needed a method a little less finicky. So, instead of regulating the temperature in a crock pot, I decided to try the cooler method.

In short, yogurt is made the same way – heated (in a pot on the stove for the cooler method), cooled, then cultured. This time, the cultured milk was poured into mason jars and placed in a cooler filled with a few inches of 120F water.

I checked the temperature at one hour, then two, then three…it stayed consistent within two degrees. Next time, I’ll stay completely hands-off, just the way I like it! This way was much faster, too. It was finished in five hours (vs. 8+ in the slow cooker), but I let it go for six, for good measure.

The verdict: the cooler method wins, hands-down. It’s more of a prep-and-ignore method, which works well with my forgetfulness.


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