How to Make Yogurt
Oct 26, 2011, Updated May 01, 2016
I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Even when it’s not October #Unprocessed, I make a ridiculous number of things from scratch.
I tend to get a little pushy when it comes to making your own yogurt. Frankly, I think everyone should do it! If ever there was a homemade yogurt pusher, it’d be me.
I don’t need a trench coat (“Wanna buy some yo-gaht?”) to push this deal. Yogurt is one of the many from-scratch practices that saves a ton of money over buying it at the store. My family of four eaters, two of whom are under seven years old, goes through a gallon or two of homemade yogurt per week — no exaggeration.
With current milk prices of about $3-ish per gallon and a 32-oz. tub of plain yogurt ringing in at $2-3, I figure I save $600-800 per year just on this one food. Plus, I’m always pleased as punch to see healthful probiotics going into my kiddos, especially during cold and flu season.
Each batch takes only about 17 minutes, split up into four parts. I’m willing to teach you my secret method, but only if you promise to eat yogurt with as little sweetener as possible. 😉
The basic steps of yogurt-making…
…are easier than chocolate chip cookies:
- Heat to sterilize the milk (185 degrees).
- Cool milk to proper incubation temperature (90-120 degrees).
- Add starter yogurt.
- Incubate at warm temperature 4-24 hours.
- Glass jars (quart canning jars or empty mayo or spaghetti sauce jars work great)
- Milk (any, from skim to whole – but skim will be very runny unless you add powdered milk, which seems a little #processed for this challenge. You could always just grab raw milk straight from the cows!)
- Candy thermometer, but I can show you how to do it without one too
- Pot large enough to hold your glass jars
- 2 Tbs of plain yogurt per quart of milk (Buy the freshest yogurt possible at a store and make sure it has “live and active cultures.” I prefer Dannon or Stonyfield. I know they have the three top cultures that I’m looking for to help the gut.)
- Picnic cooler
- Bath/beach towel
1. Put a dishcloth in the bottom of a large pot, and place the clean jars on the cloth.
2. Pour milk into your jars to about an inch from the top.
3. Place jars into the pot and fill pot with tap water around the jars.
4. Cook on high heat until boiling and get the milk to about 185 (you can’t burn it with this method, so if you forget it for a while, it’s OK!). Turn off the heat and put lids on the jars.
5. Put the pot in the cooler with the towel underneath and the lid on both pot and cooler.
6. Cool the milk. You can do it on the counter, in the garage in winter, or in a sinkful of cold water with ice packs.
7. Get milk to about 110 degrees. I know the milk is about ready when I can pick up the jars and hold them without burning my hands.
8. Stir in ~2 Tbs. plain yogurt for each quart of milk.
9. Get those lids on again and nestle your jars in the cooler. Keep them wrapped in one half of the towel and take the lid off the pot to let the heat out, then close the lid of the cooler to keep the heat in.
My yogurt jars happily nestled in the cooler, ready to incubate.
Before I close the lid, I’ll wrap the towel end from the right around the jars.
10. Incubate 4-24 hours. Shorter incubation makes sweeter yogurt, longer is more tart. Also lower incubation temperature makes sweeter yogurt and higher makes more tart. I’ve had good success at 4 hours and at 24 (add a teapot of boiling water at the 12-hour mark if going for the full 24, which gets rid of almost all the lactose in the milk).
11. When the time is up, put the jars into the freezer for about an hour to make a creamier consistency. Do not stir first. No room in the freezer? They can go right into the fridge.
That’s it! You have created yogurt!
- If you’re nervous and would like more detailed instructions for the yogurt, my post on making homemade yogurt leaves out no details.
- I know a lot of people make slow cooker yogurt, but I hate dishes so much that washing that big insert just kills me. I’d rather dump the water out of my pot to air dry, put my cooler away and be done.
- Missing cream cheese during October #Unprocessed? You can hang your yogurt to drain out the whey, and the result is almost identical to cream cheese.
- What can you do with homemade yogurt? See this list of homemade yogurt recipes.
- Here are my top four tips for eating less sugar in your yogurt.
- Want to learn even more? Check out the GNOWFGLINS eCourses on Cultured Dairy & Cheese Making and Fermented Foods.