Yogurt-making is a regular part of our week. Why do we make our own? Cost and health.
You can make half a gallon of yogurt for just over $2 dollars and it’s much healthier than pre-flavored types. You get to control just how much (and what kind) of sweetener is added.
Plus, making yogurt simple. Super simple.
Yogurt-making basics: Heat milk. Cool to “bathtub warm.” Add “live” starter. Keep warm. Wait seven to ten hours.
Told you it was simple!
There are two ways that I make yogurt, depending on how much of a hurry I’m in. If I remember in the morning or early afternoon, I just make it in the crockpot. If I forget until later, I use a pot to hurry up the process.
Homemade yogurt recipe
Ingredients and supplies:
- 3/4 gallon milk (I use whole, but any kind will work, though it won’t be as creamy)
- 1/2 cup yogurt starter (most plain yogurts with live, active cultures will work. It’s one of the few areas where Aldi let me down though! I usually use Dannon Naturals.)
- Large pot
- Crockpot crock
- Thick towel or blanket
- Thermometer (optional, but highly recommended for the first few batches)
- Heat milk in pot until it reaches 185º F. At this point it starts to froth and steams heavily. If I have time, I just let it sit in the crockpot until it reaches this point. Otherwise, I heat it in a pot on the stove, but have to stir frequently to prevent burning as it reaches 185ºF. For thicker yogurt, hold milk at 185ºF for a few minutes, or up to half an hour.
- Let the milk cool to 120º F, or until it’s very warm, but not hot, to the touch. (If you heated it on the stove, transfer to the crockpot slightly before it reaches 120º.)
- Pour one cup of the warm milk into the yogurt starter and mix well.
- Pour yogurt starter into the milk and swirl gently.
- Cover crock with lid then wrap in thick towel or blanket overnight (or for at least seven hours.)
Tips and tricks:
- Once you’ve made a batch, you can freeze a portion of your starter to use next time (though I’d recommend replacing the starter every few batches, just to be on the safe side!)
- If you want a thicker yogurt without adding extra ingredients, maintain the yogurt at 185F for up to half an hour.
- Want to make Greek yogurt? Just pour your homemade yogurt into a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a thin drying towel. Let sit in the refrigerator while the excess fluid (called whey) drains out. Depending on how thick you want it, let it drain for 30 minutes or overnight. The remaining yogurt will be nice and thick!
- Contrary to what I would have guessed, more starter actually makes for thinner yogurt because it takes less time for the cultures to permeate and thicken the yogurt! (Kind of like with sourdough.)
Nerdy yogurt facts:
The first step of making yogurt is to heat the milk to 185F. Why? Not to pasteurize. Most milk already comes pasteurized. You heat it to 185F because that de-natures the proteins and helps the finished product be thick. The longer you hold the milk at 185F (up to 30 minutes) the thicker it will be!
Then you cool the milk to 115-120, at which point you add the starter. 115-120 F is the perfect temperature for the active cultures (usually L. acidophilus) to thrive, grow and turn your milk into yogurt. Keep it at this temperature so the healthy little yogurt bacteria don’t get too cold and slow down their work.
Enjoy your homemade yogurt!
As you can see, this homemade yogurt recipe is incredibly simple. And it produces consistently thick and creamy results. Pull out your crockpot and make some up today!
Have you ever made yogurt? What’s your favorite way to eat it?