I’ve always loved flavored yogurts but unfortunately, I am allergic to sucralose so many of the flavored low smart point yogurts we off limits for me. My husband, and fellow weight watcher, loves those individual yogurts and they were a staple in his packed lunches. Those yogurts, although delicious, come in individual plastic packaging and are filled with artificial sweeteners. We were also paying $1 per individual serving
Then, the new weight watchers freestyle program was introduced and non-fat plain yogurt was added to the zero smart points list, which changed my relationship with yogurt forever.
To be honest, I hate the taste of plain yogurt, but at zero points, I was willing to give it another try. The scientist in my came out and started experimenting. I found countless ways to doctor up non-fat yogurt for little or no smart points. By adding a little stevia and fruit or other flavoring, you can have delicious zero point (or 1 point) yogurt.
Here are just a few yummy add-ins that I have used in my yogurt:
Sugar Free pudding mix (Chocolate, vanilla, pistachio, cheesecake, banana cream)
Sugar Free Jello mix
There are many scrumptious combinations you can make. Just this evening, I discovered the heavenly combination of sugar free banana cream pudding mix and PB2- my husband calls this combo “The Elvis”. I also will sometimes combine the yogurt with some lite whipped topping, which makes a delicious mousse like dessert. Yogurt + Cheesecake pudding mix + Whipped Topping is a must try!!
This new love of non-fat plain Greek yogurt, resulted in buying several big containers a week. Each one of those containers is almost $4 and my recycling was filling up with the plastic containers.
I decided to start making my own! Let me tell you, BEST DECISION ever! I can now make a ton of yogurt for less than $2! And it tastes better than the store bought stuff.
All you need is skim milk! I’ve seen a lot of yogurt recipes using fancy equipment, but that is unnecessary. I was able to make delicious creamy yogurt only using my slow cooker, a thermometer and the light in my oven.
The whole process is very easy. It does take time, but 90% of that time is just waiting. I would say the total active time for this process is less than 10 minutes.
You start by adding a gallon of skim milk to a slow cooker. You can also use whole milk, or 2%, it just won’t be non-fat if you use another type of milk. I’ve seen some recipes where they also add dry milk powder. I’ve tried it with and without the dry milk. I couldn’t really tell a difference so I stopped using the milk powder. The main reason being, I am a penny-pincher and that that is one less expense on my grocery bill.
Turn on your slow cooker and start heating your milk.
Heat until the milk reaches 180 degrees. The first time I made it, I heated it on low and it look forever! I had no idea how long it would take to reach the correct temperature, so I was checking the temp at least once an hour. If you decided to heat on low it will take about 6-8 hours before it reaches 180 degrees. If you heat it on high it take about 3-4 hours. It will also depend on the slow cooker that you use, so the first time you make it I suggest periodically checking the temperature. I just used a digital thermometer that I had. It is the same one that we use on Thanksgiving for the turkey. They have lots of fancy instant read thermometers out there, but as long as you get a semi-accurate read, just use what you have.
Cool the Milk.
Once the milk reached 180 degrees just turn the slow cooker off and take off the lid to let it cool. Let it cool until it is about 100 degrees. You may get a skin on the top of the milk as it cools, just remove it before you go on to the next step. If you don’t you will end up with little rubbery bits in your finished yogurt.
Add the starter.
Once the milk is cooled down to about 100 degrees, take out about 1 ½- 2 cups of the warm milk and stir in the live culture yogurt. You can use plain yogurt you buy from the store as the starter, or once you get going just save ½ cup from each batch to use as the starter for the next batch. I have a container set aside labeled “starter” and I take it out right away. If I don’t, I forget and all of the sudden I am out of yogurt with no starter! Make sure the starter is fully mixed in, then add it back to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
Now it is incubation time!
I turn on my oven for a few seconds to warm it up and turn on the oven light. Be careful not to heat up the oven too much. If it gets too hot, the live cultures in the yogurt will die. I usually let it incubate overnight. In 10-12 hours you will have plain non-fat yogurt.
Want Greek Yogurt?
At this point you can chill and eat it, but I prefer the taste and texture of Greek yogurt. To transform your yogurt to Greek yogurt all you need to do is strain it. I line a colander with a double layer of cheese cloth, place it in the sink and pour in the yogurt. Let the colander sit in the sink for a minute or two, then place it in a large bowl or other container to catch the liquid.
Then cover it and place it in the refrigerator while it is straining. The liquid that is strained off is whey. You can pour the whey down the sink or save it for another use. Whey is packed with protein, vitamins and minerals, so if you are feeling ambitious there are plenty of uses for the whey. I personally have never done anything with my whey, but someday I will experiment with it. If you are looking for ideas you can check out 36 ways to Use Whey for some inspiration.
Pour off the whey
For me, I usually pour out the whey a few times during straining just because the bowl I use is not very deep. Almost every time I make this yogurt, I end up stealing some yogurt from the colander before it is finished straining, because I cannot wait to eat it!
Once the yogurt is fully strained- you have Greek Yogurt!
Package and Store your Yogurt.
At this point, it is time to store it. I usually have a few large mason jars of the plain Greek yogurt. Then I mix together some different flavor combos and keep the in the small jelly mason jars so we can pack them in lunches. That way we can just grab and go!
I also use this yogurt to make the bagels that are currently taking the internet by storm. (See recipe here: Easy Bagel Recipe I make mine in my air fryer)
I don’t think I will ever go back to buying yogurt
I want to hear if you try this process and what your experience is like. Give me ideas for other flavor combinations that I can use to doctor up the yogurt- I’m always looking for new ideas!
Want to know more about me and my journey? Learn more HERE