When I was a kid, my mom made a ton of stuff from scratch. She made her own mixes for things like taco seasoning and pancakes, her own cream of mushroom soup, like everything. I love that she did that because it showed me how easy it is to make your own food from scratch and probably 90% of the time it tastes way better homemade. Sometimes it's much cheaper also! One of the things I remember loving was homemade yogurt. The consistency is a bit runnier than store bought but the taste is just better to me.
Typically the process of making yogurt includes heating the milk to 180°, letting it cool back to 110° and then adding the starter but I have found in the wonderful world that is Pinterest how to do it with my crockpot and a timer! It's really super easy, just a long process. You can totally customize it and add your sweetener or leave it plain and mix in whatever you like as you go. My crockpot is not huge so I have to make a smaller batch at a time but you can do a gallon if you like yogurt and your kiddos will eat it all within a week or so. Everything I saw said it was good for a week and so far we've eaten ours within 7-8 days so I don't know how well it keeps longer than that.Start by pouring 8 cups of milk (or a full gallon but I'm going to give the half recipe amounts) in your crockpot and add 1 1/2 cups of dry milk powder.
This will help thicken the yogurt. Turn it on low for 2 1/2 hours. Then turn it off and if you wish to sweeten yours you could add the sugar now and it will help dissolve it better while the milk is hot. I would use 1/2 cup with the 8 cups of milk to start with and adjust to your tastes the next time around. You can also add 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract if you want your yogurt to be vanilla flavored.
Wait 3 hours for the milk to cool down and then dip out two cups of the milk. Stir 1/2 cup of plain yogurt starter into the warm milk and then add back to the crockpot. Cover with a towel so it stays nice and dark and helps insulate to keep it warm. Alternatively you could put it in storage containers and place in your oven with the light on but do not turn the oven on!! Putting in storage containers ahead will help limit the number of times the yogurt is moved and help keep it thicker. The more it's stirred the runnier it will be
Let your yogurt sit for 8-12 hours. The longer it sits the more tangy it will be, and the thicker as well. I was not letting mine sit longer than 8 hours because I always try to start the process first thing in the morning so I can let it get cold overnight in the fridge, but recently I forgot to put it in the fridge before going to bed and it was sitting in the crockpot for probably 16 hours. It came out so thick and not too much more tangy to be a problem, especially since I had sweetened that batch. I do sometimes like to leave mine plain so I can use it for cooking (my favorite blueberry muffin recipe calls for sour cream which I never have around because it molds so fast!) and also to mix with pureed fruit for Maddie when she was first starting on foods. The baby yogurts are so expensive! Right now milk is $1.79 for a gallon at my Aldi's which means making my own yogurt with some plain store bought yogurt as starter is vastly cheaper than buying premixed and sweetened. I have made some up with sugar and blueberries and also mixed with jelly. My favorite way is to eat it with homemade granola! My most recent favorite new granola recipes are Buttered Pecan and Gingerbread Granola. Another tasty treat I've done is to slice up some bananas, mix in chocolate chips and toasted pecans. What is your favorite way to eat yogurt?