I like to think of myself as a pretty crunchy parent. And let me tell you a secret: sometimes I think we make things hard for ourselves.
I just had a baby! He’s going to pee every 45 seconds for the next three years! What do you mean there are disposable items to deal with that? I must buy a rainbow of cloth because I don’t already have enough laundry!
Oh no, couldn’t possibly put my child in that convenient seat with wheels! There’s nothing I would rather do than strap this 35 pound toddler to my back using 18 layers of fabric on this delightfully humid July day!
A special bed for a baby? With a little baby-sized mattress and slatted sides that goes in a room just for said baby?? Surely you must be joking! He’s sleeping with me! Who needs to be comfortable, amiright?
I’m guilty of all three; I’m a cloth-diapering, baby-wearing, co-sleeping, convenience-hating hippie. And of course I have the environment, our budget, and bonding in mind when I make these choices for my family, but sometimes it just feels hard.
You know what isn’t hard? Homemade yogurt. And nothing says hippie like doing stuff with bacteria!
You can make stovetop yogurt with a Dutch oven, but I like using my crockpot. It takes longer but requires less attention. You need:
an instant-read thermometer
up to a gallon of milk
two tablespoons of plain yogurt (after you’ve made your first batch, always save a little to make the next batch)
a measuring cup
1-2 strainers or colanders
cloth napkins, tea towels, or cheese cloth.
Important! If you don’t want to be up too late, start this process before noon!
Turn your crockpot to high and fill it nearly to the brim with milk. You can use low fat, but whole makes a more creamy yogurt. Put on the lid. Set your thermometer to 180. The only bacteria you want in there is the kind you add yourself.
When the milk reaches 180, turn off the crockpot.
When the temperature of the milk falls to 110 degrees, scoop out about two cups. Add the two tablespoons of yogurt to the measuring cup and whisk until it’s fully incorporated. Gently stir this thinned yogurt into the crockpot.
Remove the crock from the warmer. Wrap it in a towel or blanket. Turn the light on in your oven (this will warm your oven just enough), and place your little bundle of active bacteria inside. Leave it overnight (note: we like our yogurt tangy. The longer you leave it, the tangier it gets).
In the morning, set two strainers inside two bowls (or maybe you have a giant bowl and a giant strainer?). Place a tea towel, cloth napkin, or cheese cloth inside the strainers. Pour your yogurt (taking a second to reflect on the fact that you just made yogurt!) into the strainers.
Let the whey drain for a few hours. I like to wait until the yogurt is pretty darn thick (Greek style) and most of the whey is separated out. The yogurt pulls away from the cloth more easily then. If I need to, I whisk some of the whey back in to thin it out a little after this step. No matter what, I like to whisk it for a minute or two just to make it smooth, then I pop the lid on it, put it in the fridge, and hit up Pinterest for interesting things to do with whey.
That’s it. It couldn’t be easier. Now, keep in mind that this is no store-bought fruit at the bottom affair. It isn’t sweet at all. I mix in some no sugar added jam or fresh fruit, and my toddler is happy. Enjoy!