Frugal Experiment: Homemade Crockpot Yogurt

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I posted about my homemade yogurt experiment a few days ago on my FB page. Initially, I was going to test and refine homemade yogurt recipes until I found one that worked perfectly. Instead, I decided to just post about my results as a frugal experiment. I plan on doing more frugal experiments like this in the future.

Frugal Experiment: Homemade Crockpot Yogurt. Includes cost breakdown and cost comparison to store bought yogurt.

I used this homemade yogurt recipe (Edit: The site is currently down. I included my own crockpot yogurt recipe in this comment. It worked well, but not quite perfectly. This may very well have been my own fault since it was my first time making my own yogurt. The only issue I had with the finished result is that it isn’t as thick as I’d like. It isn’t runny, but it isn’t firm either.

Aside from one adjustment – subbing the honey for sugar – I followed the recipe exactly.

I got strange looks from my husband when I wrapped a towel over the crockpot to seal in the warmth overnight.  All I could say was, “it’s part of the recipe!”

The next morning, I lined a strainer with coffee filters and let my yogurt strain  to separate the whey from the yogurt and hopefully thicken it up a bit. I used a bowl to catch the whey and I let it sit in the fridge for four hours before packaging it up.

Frugal Experiment: Homemade Crockpot Yogurt. Includes cost breakdown and cost comparison to store bought yogurt.

When it was done, I packaged the yogurt up in 1 cup containers. I placed strawberry preserves on the bottom, layered the yogurt on top and drizzled honey on top of the yogurt. I mixed strawberry preserves into the large container to make strawberry yogurt as well.

I was able to make about 6 cups of yogurt. The recipe I used said it would produce less yogurt, but I attribute the extra to the thinner-than-expected consistency.

And now what you’re all waiting for… the cost.

Cost Breakdown: 

½ Gallon of Whole Milk: $1.95
Yogurt Starter (small container of store brand yogurt): $0.59
Sugar: $0.12
Vanilla: $0.06

Total First-time Cost: $2.72 for 48 ounces of yogurt.

Notes:

-The total cost goes down to $2.13 after the first time since I can use the homemade yogurt as the yogurt starter.
- Your cost may be lower. A gallon of milk costs about $4 in my area – so ½ gallon is a little under $2.

Homemade Yogurt vs. Store Bought Yogurt Cost Comparison: 

Equivalent amount of store-bought yogurt (1 ½ 32-oz containers): $3.43
Homemade first-time cost: $2.72
Homemade cost after first time: $2.13

After the first batch, your savings are $1.30 per batch.

If you go through one batch of yogurt per week, you’ll save $67.60 per year.

Overall, I think it’s worth making homemade yogurt – especially since it’s so simple to make using a crockpot. Not only is the cost lower, but there is also a considerable improvement in taste.

Have you ever made homemade yogurt before? If so, do you have any tips for beginners like me?

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    I tried yogurt in the crockpot a couple times and I could never get it thick enough either. I’l probably try it again someday cause we spend about $25 per month on it right now!

    • 2

      says

      I’ve never tallied up how much we spend on yogurt each month but it’s probably more than I think. Hopefully I can find a way to get it thick enough – if I do I’ll let you know!

    • 3

      Anonymous says

      I layer my colander with 2 layers of cheese cloth and let it drain from 1 hr to 5 hrs. You can buy 3/4 yards at fabric store for under $2 . If you want Greek Yogurt, Let it drain until very thick. Wash out cheese cloth and dry till next time. Enjoy !

  2. 4

    says

    I’ve seen bloggers who get their homemade yogurt really thick – but they are women who have access to raw milk or milk right from their own cows. I think, even if you use whole milk, if it’s storebought, it’s still been pasteurized and homogonized, and that processing might make a difference in how thick you can get ultimately it.

    I dont’ have access to raw milk, but I still want to try this. Just because so many storebought yogurts use hydrogenated oils and corn syrups for the flavorings. Yuck!

    • 5

      says

      I bet using raw milk makes an incredible difference in the thickness. Like you, I unfortunately don’t have access to raw milk either. I think getting rid of most of the processed stuff in yogurt is one of the biggest benefits of making it at home. Last time I used sugar-free strawberry preserves (from the store) but I’m going to try pureeing organic strawberries in the food processor next time to see if it turns out just as well.

    • 6

      Anonymous says

      I use 2 % milk and it gets thick. It all depends on how long you want to let it drain. It tastes great. I use it plain as a low fat protein…..I sometimes add garlic powder and herbs for a dip for vegies.

      • 7

        Kandy says

        Thank you for your comment. I only eat plain yogurt and wondered how this would taste as plain yogurt. I am diabetic and take weekly chemo so eat a LOT of plain yogurt for gut health. Thanks again.

  3. 8

    says

    Thanks for the tips girl. I would think that homemade yogurt can be healthier too for you. I mean besides what Jill said that store bought milk has stuff in it too. But it’s still a step up.

    We’d love to try this especially when we start our own jam this coming year and throw that in the bottom of our cups. Hmm… off to convince the beau!!

    • 9

      says

      Oh definitely! I bet it can be (and is) healthier. I’ve seen other bloggers use organic milk when making their yogurt so if you use organic milk, organic honey (I did in this recipe) and organic strawberries it can be less expensive AND healthier than the store-bought yogurt and completely organic. :)

      • 10

        Julie says

        I bet using coconut milk would taste good and make it thicker. At least taste good! And be so much healthier than cows milk.

  4. 11

    says

    I have made my own yogurt before, but not in the crockpot. Try adding a half cup of dried milk to the starter mix…that always made my yogurt thicker.

  5. 15

    says

    I can remember my grandparents making their own yogurt before I started school (this would have been at least 58 years ago, since I’m 63 now. Theirs was more like milkshake consistency. I have said they would think the yogurt sold in stores today would be like ice cream compared to theirs. One of my earliest memories of being left alone with my grandfather is asking for something to eat and being sat down at the kitchen table with one of those glasses of yogurt and telling him, “but Granddaddy, I don’t feel like yogurt today.” He lived to 102. When I was younger I used to make it in a low oven in a Pyrex mixing bowl with a recipe I think I got out of the original Mother Earth News. I’ve gotten lazy, I buy it at the grocery store, but I prefer Greek because it reminds me more of what my grandparents made. However, I had been thinking I should take up making crockpot yogurt. I’m not sure I want to live to 102, but I need to be eating more intentionally than I do now.

    • 16

      says

      Amazing story, Elaine! I’m the first one in my family for several generations to even take an interest in making my own staples like yogurt or bread. I wish I had memories like yours! :) I hope I can bring more appreciation for the simple things in life to future generations in our family.

    • 19

      Anonymous says

      Just be sure the starter yogurt has active cultures. That may be the problem with it not getting thick. It will say so on the carton… Good luck. Also my mother used to use dry milk mixed up . Always turned out great.

  6. 22

    Anonymous says

    You can also dissolve plain gelatin ( I like Knox brand) into prewarmed milk and add it to the warmed milk in the crockpot. This will make it thicker and more Greek type yogurt. Try experimenting and see how many packets you need for desired consistency.

    • 24

      says

      Sarah, I honestly have no idea if it works with almond milk. After a bit of Googling, I’ve seen people experiencing some mixed results. It’s worth a try though, IMO.

  7. 27

    says

    I use a different method, to make my yogurt (styrofoam cooler and warm water for a heat source) but I have discovered that I can use the whey I drain off my Greek style yogurt as a starter for the next batch. I figured there was enough of the bacterias in the liquid, and sure enough, it worked. I also use the whey to soak grains, etc.

  8. 28

    says

    Next time you make yogurt, add 1/3c of powdered milk to 4 c. of liquid milk. Then heat the milk and follow the recipe as usual. You should find that your yogurt ends up thicker.
    Also, instead of adding strawberry preserves, try thawed frozen strawberries. Mash and add some sugar. Add this to the yogurt for a fresher tasting strawberry flavor.

  9. 29

    Marsha says

    Hi. I love your website and posts. I am just learning to be more frugal. Can you use non fat or low fat milk? Or how about soy, almond or rice milks? I try to eat low fat or fat free and LOVE yogurt. Thank you.

    • 30

      Jazmin Rode says

      Hey Marsha, I’ve only tried it with whole milk and 1% milk and both work really well, even though the 1% turned out a bit less firm.

  10. 31

    Marsha says

    Sorry to post again, can someone please send me the recipe. For some reason I am unable to bring up the page with the recipe on it. Thanks again.

    • 32

      Jazmin Rode says

      Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Marsha. It seems the site I got the original recipe from is now down and redirecting to another domain. I’ll write here in the comments the recipe I’ve used for months now, which has been adapted over time from the original link.

      Ingredients:
      - 1/2 gallon milk
      - 1/8 cup of sugar (optional.You can completely remove this or add more depending on how sweet you like your yogurt.)
      - Small container of plain yogurt (single serving from the store to use as yogurt starter)
      - 1 tbsp Vanilla extract

      Instructions:

      -Turn crockpot on low and pour in 1/2 gallon of milk. Cover with lid and let cook for two hours.After the two hour mark, turn crockpot off and completely unplug. Leave lid on and let cool for two hours.

      -After the cooling period has passed, pour yogurt starter into a small bowl. Add vanilla extract and sugar (optional), then ladle about 1/2 cup of the warm milk from the crockpot into the bowl. Combine gently (don’t whisk) to incorporate ingredients, then pour into the crockpot.

      -Combine ingredients in crockpot (don’t whisk) and use a gentle back and forth motion with a spoon or spatula (almost as if you’re cutting from side to side) to incorporate yogurt into the milk.

      -Replace lid. Leave crockpot off and wrap with a towel or two overnight (for about 12 hours). Then, line a large colander with coffee filters and place the colander over a large mixing bowl. Pour yogurt from crockpot into colander and transfer to fridge for about 4 hours. It will thicken as the whey drains out of the yogurt into the large bowl beneath.

      I know this isn’t very organized, but I wanted to give you something you can use for the time being just in case you’re planning on doing this today.

      • 33

        Kayln says

        “… Leave lid on and let cool for two hours.

        -After another 2 and a half hours, pour yogurt starter into a small bowl….”

        Wait, so after it cools for 2 hours, am i supposed to wait ANOTHER 2 & 1/2 hours until the starter mixture, making it a total of 4 & 1/2 hrs?! Or do i put the starter in 30 minute’s after the first 2 hours?

        • 34

          Jazmin Rode says

          Good catch! So sorry about the confusion, I was rushed when I wrote that comment because I realized the original recipe was down so I typed the wrong time. You can just add your starter in after it’s cooled for two hours. No need to wait 4 1/2 hours! :)

          I will edit the comment now to avoid any further confusion.

  11. 37

    Sandra says

    If you never turn the crockpot back on after the 2 hours, how will it still be warm enough for the yogurt to make. After 2 (or is it 2 1/2) hours, the pot will be cold, won’t it. I thought yogurt had to be made in a warm environment.

    • 38

      Jazmin Rode says

      The actual crock portion of the crockpot + the towels that I use to wrap around the crockpot act as insulators. I’m not sure on the exact science of it, but it’s warm enough to work and I can’t remember the last time I had a failed batch. :)

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