When you tell people you’re making yogurt, you sound like some sort of super-hippie. But why not make your own yogurt? It’s *super* easy (as you will see below), and it’s cheaper than buying it (its about 1/2 to 1/3rd the price of buying yogurt). It’s healthy. It encourages you to eat more yogurt, which is a healthy habit. And if you’re making yogurt, you might as well make some homemade granola to go with it.
The craziest thing about making yogurt is how simple it is. It’s mostly just milk!
You can even save some of the yogurt from the previous batch as the culture to start the next batch, though I’ve heard that eventually the strain won’t be strong enough to continue without mixing in some fresh stuff from the store. I can’t verify that.
I will admit that making the yogurt takes a long time, but it’s not really active time. It’s not like you have to do anything during that time. It’s mostly just a matter of keeping it warm.
The granola could have been a post in its own right. Of course it gives a nice crunch to your parfait, but you can use it for anything you might use granola for. Sara eats bowls of it with milk for breakfast.
It’s great. The kids love it. The thing about yogurt is that it is so versatile. You can mix in honey, vanilla, or jam. You can have it with blueberries, strawberries, or mango. You can use it to substitute for oil in baking. You can decide how much to sweeten it, and after doing this for awhile, you won’t be able to go back to the super-sweet, store-bought variety. What’s not to love?
And that’s to say nothing of the granola, which has a million uses itself, even above and beyond yogurt parfaits. Make it with almonds, make it with dried fruit. Throw whatever you want in there. Yum!
Plus, you sound impressive when you say you make your own yogurt. Nobody has to know how easy it is. That’s between you, me, and the public Internet.
This recipe is from Stephanie O’Dae’s A Year of Slow Cooking.
- 8 cups of milk (half-gallon). We generally try for organic whole milk, but I think you could use anything (we have made it with 2% and couldn’t tell the difference).
- 1/2 cup of plain yogurt (live/active culture).
- That’s it. Seriously. Just milk and a little yogurt!
- Add the milk to the crock pot. Cook on low for 2 1/2 hours.
- Turn off the crock pot. Let it sit for 3 hours.
- Scoop out 2 cups of the warm(ish) milk from the crock pot, and mix that with the 1/2 cup of “starter” yogurt. Then put the whole thing back into the crock pot and stir.
- Cover the crock pot with towels and leave it overnight (at least 8 hours)
Maybe it’s because of the towels, which sort of force you to unwrap the thing like a present on Christmas morning, but it’s always something of a surprise / delight when you get up to find yogurt in the crock pot! For some reason, it always seems like it’s not going to work. Maybe because it’s so easy…a little TOO easy!
This recipe is from Mark Bittman, although any recipe for granola is really more of a suggestion than a recipe. So I’ll give you his recipe, but I’d say we make it a little different every time (as intended!).
- 6 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant)
- 2 cups mixed nuts (you can probably use anything, but we usually use chopped walnuts or almonds)
- 1 cup shredded coconut (optional)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 /2 to 1 cup honey or maple syrup (we usually do 1/2 cup that is a mix of honey and maple syrup)
- 1 cup chopped dried fruit (such as raisins or dried cranberries)
We usually don’t actually put in the dried fruit, since we are usually using this in yogurt parfaits. You can always throw dried fruit in when you’re going to eat it, if needed. Also, we find that the coconut really adds something. We’ve tried it with and without, but after not having it and then putting it back in, I don’t think we’ll go back to leaving it out!
- Heat the oven to 350°F. Combine everything except the dried fruit. Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or a little longer, stirring occasionally. The mixture should brown evenly; the browner it gets without burning, the crunchier the granola will be.
- Remove the pan from the oven and add the dried fruit (if you want to add dried fruit). Cool on a rack, stirring once in a while until the granola reaches room temperature. Transfer to a sealed container and store in the refrigerator; it will keep indefinitely.
We have also made the Spiced Granola from that page, which is the same as above, with the following additions:
- Another teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground anise (we usually leave this out, mostly because we don’t have any anise)
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract