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, it’s simple. Super simple.
Heat milk. Cool slightly. Add “live” starter. Keep warm. Wait seven hours.
Told you it was simple!
I used to make mine in a crockpot, but kept forgetting early enough in the day. My mother recommended this faster (though slightly more messy!) method. Find what works best for *you* and make yourself a bowl of healthy, inexpensive yogurt!
strawberry banana yogurt
Recipe: Homemade yogurt
Ingredients and supplies:
1/2 gallon milk (I use whole, but any kind will work, though it won’t be as creamy)
1/2 cup yogurt starter (any yogurt with live, active cultures will work. I use Dannon Naturals but most yogurts will work. Just read the label to make sure it has live cultures!)
Thick towel or blanket
Thermometer (optional, but highly recommended)
- Heat milk in pot over medium heat until it reaches 185 F. (At this point it starts to froth and steams heavily) Stir frequently to prevent burning as it reaches 185F. For thicker yogurt, hold milk at 185F for a few minutes.
- Remove pot from heat. (At this point I like to remove the starter from the fridge so it is closer to room temperature when added later.)
- Cool slightly (just enough to prevent the cold crock from breaking with the heat!) and add milk to crock. (Pour a little hot milk into the bottom of the crock to “heat it up” before adding all 8 cups.)
- Let cool to 120 F.
- Pour one cup of the cooled milk into the yogurt starter and mix well.
- Pour yogurt starter into the milk and stir 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.
Have you ever made yogurt? What’s your favorite way to eat it?