yogurtmaking 101

Posted on May 19, 2011 in Food

Babyface and I eat a lot of yogurt. And when you eat organically, it can get mega expensive. Just do the basic math, in our area, you can pretty much always find organic Stonyfield yogurt, in the individual size tubs for about a $1 a piece. Seems economical enough. But what if I told you could get an entire half-gallon of organic yogurt for the same price you pay for three of those individual tubs? In fact, you can make organic yogurt for even cheaper than conventional store-bought yogurt.

Just make your own!

I know, yogurtmaking seems difficult and complicated, but I promise it is totally easy and only takes about 10 minutes of hands on time. Plus, it only requires two ingredients!

We make our own yogurt all the time. There is almost always a big, covered bowl in our fridge full of plain yogurt ready to eat or use in recipes.

So how do you do it? Let’s get started. First, your ingredients.

Milk: You want a half-gallon (or really, as much or as little as you want, but half-gallon is a good starting size) of organic milk in whatever milkfat percentage makes you happy. The higher the milkfat, the creamier your end-result yogurt will be. We drink skim milk but I use 2% for yogurt just because the little bit of fat is nice. Also, make sure you get PASTEURIZED milk. There are a lot of milks out there that are ultra pasteurized and those will NOT make yogurt. You’ll just end up with warm milk at the end of the process. It will say right on the container if it is pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized.

Yogurt: The first time you make yogurt, you’ll need to pick up a starter of plain, organic yogurt with live active cultures (make sure to the check the label). All you’ll need is an individual tub size. After this, you can use your own yogurt to make remaining batches.

And that’s all your ingredients! Next up, the process. Using a large soup pot and a stainless steel or glass bowl, make a double boiler by placing the bowl over simmering water in the soup pot.

Pour in your milk.

Keeping the heat on low, slowly warm the milk. You don’t want to boil the milk, but you do want the milk to get up to 185°. I don’t use a thermometer. So I just wait until it looks frothy and super hot (but not boiling, boiled milk won’t make yogurt).

Turn off heat, remove bowl from double boiled and set aside to cool. You want it to cool to about 110°, but, again, no thermometer. So I just let it cool until I can stick my finger in the milk, count to 10, and not feel like my finger is going to burn off. If it gets too cool, just heat it back up. If it is still too warm, wait for it to cool down. Too hot and the yogurt cultures will die. Too cool and the yogurt cultures won’t multiply.

Lukewarm milk looks like hot milk.

Next step, pitch in your yogurt. In a small bowl, take a little bit of the warm milk and whisk it with your starter yogurt.

Pour the yogurt/milk mixture into the milk and whisk well.

Put a lid (or an upside-down plate works, too) on the bowl. Wrap the bowl in a blanket. Sit it in a warm and non-drafty space. And wait. The longer you wait, the more yogurt cultures are created and the tangier the yogurt gets. I usually just let it sit out overnight—about 9-10 hours.

Unwrap it in the morning, cross your fingers and you should have yogurt! The yogurt will continue to thicken as it cools in the fridge.

Variations

  • Flavored yogurt: you can flavor the yogurt at either the pitch stage (before you wrap it up and let it sit out) or before the yogurt goes in the fridge. Mix in honey, vanilla, jam, etc.
  • Greek yogurt: strain the yogurt through cheesecloth after it has cooled in the fridge

Troubleshooting:

  • My yogurt just looks like hot milk: Make sure your milk was not ultra-pasteurized and that your yogurt had live active cultures.
  • My yogurt is grainy: You probably overheated your milk (to boil) in the beginning stage or you pitched in your starter yogurt when the milk was still too hot

26 Comments

  1. Great post thank you!!

    Any ideas about making soya yoghurt…?

    x

    • I’ve heard you can just replace the cow’s milk and yogurt with soy milk and yogurt, but I’m not 100% sure. I’m sure there is someone out there on the internet that has done it. :) Let me know how it turns out!

      • Soy milk with soy yogurt (or regular yogurt, but if you want true soy yogurt, you’d probably use soy yogurt) can be made the same way, but it is usually really runny. You can add a thickener (like gelatin powder) to make it thicker when you add the yogurt to the milk.

      • Yay! Thanks for the info Shauna!

      • No problem! I’ve been making yogurt for a while now, and have experimented with soy yogurt.

        I also use gelatin powder when I make flavored yogurt, as I find that adding fruit or vanilla to my yogurt makes it a tad runny.

      • I wonder if there is an alternative to the gelatin? Gelatin is bad news bears for vegans (not that I am one).

      • Hmm, I don’t know. I think there are some other kinds of thickeners, and some people don’t mind their yogurt to be a bit runny, but I like mine THICK THICK THICK (like Greek yogurt).

      • could pectin work? Its made from apples.

    • Thanks both – must give this a bash soon!! x

  2. LOOOOOVE homemade yogurt! Have you tried crock pot yogurt? I did once and it just didn’t work for me. We’ve started giving Ty yogurt and he loves it. He eats it just plain, but I like to add honey and berries to mine. :)

    • I did it a few times, and I guess my crock pot just holds heat too well because it was always grainy at the end. Not good eats. The blanket around the bowl seems to work perfect for me.

      • Yeah, I usually put my bowl covered and in the oven (off) overnight, as I find the oven is a good incubator as well.

        Also, if you’ve used your own yogurt to make new yogurt for quite a few batches, sometimes the cultures go “bad” and won’t multiply, so you sometimes have to buy new yogurt for the new cultures. I usually buy new yogurt after 6 batches or so.

  3. Thanks for sharing! My mom used to make yoghurt all the time and I haven’t done it since I was a kid! I should try it again.

  4. Wow! I had no idea you could do this. I guess it’s just something I never thought about. I’m obsessed with Greek yogurt mixed with granola, honey and berries, so I may have to give this a try.

  5. Wow! This is great! I will definitely give this a try. I have one question though. How long does it last in the refrigerator? Thanks Cassie!

    • Oh gosh, forever! If you’ve ever noticed, organic milk has crazy far out expiration dates (like 6 weeks to a 2 months). So I’d say it lasts that long. Although we go through it much quicker than that!

  6. Ooo… Love this! We are getting goats in a few weeks, I am going to try this with the goat milk!

  7. My husband & I eat a lot of yogurt, too, but I haven’t tried making our own yogurt because I didn’t want it to go bad. how long does your yogurt usually last?

    • Quite a while! As I said up there, organic milk has crazy far out expiration dates (around 6 weeks) and I’ve never had yogurt stick around long enough to get to 6 weeks!

  8. Can I use plain greek yogurt or no?

    • For the starter yogurt? Just as long as it has active cultures, you sure can!

      • ok cool thank you! If I do use greek yogurt, will the final product have the consistency as regular yogurt or greek yogurt? Im looking to make regular yogurt like the one you made.

      • Nope. It’ll be just like regular yogurt. To get Greek yogurt, you just need to strain the yogurt through a fine cloth or sieve. :)

  9. I haven’t made yogurt in many many years, when I had a yogurt maker! Thanks for this reminder of how easy it can be and worthwhile, too!
    Can’t wait to get started!

  10. Ok so I followed all your steps, but mine came out really runny on top and thick at the bottom. I stirred it up and put it in the fridge. The milk was pasteurized and the yogurt jad cultures in it. Not sure what I did wrong! Help??

  11. What would be a good easy way to sweeten this up without using sugar? My husband is a diabetic and has a sweet tooth

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