How to Make Your Own Yogurt

Making yogurt is a simple thing.  It involves heating milk to just below the boiling point to kill off bacteria, cooling it down to a temperature where some added live yogurt culture can thrive, and then letting it sit undisturbed in a warm place long enough to allow those cultures to multiply.  It’s magical, and so satisfying.

There’s only one tricky part.  Can you guess?  It’s finding that sweet spot, that perfectly warm under-a-mama-duck type place where the milk can sit undisturbed and transform into creamy tangy healthy yogurt.  Most places in the house are either too warm, or too cold.  If the temperature is too high, the bacteria will die, and if it’s too low, they won’t multiply.  It’s understandable, really, you are attempting to create and maintain the conditions necessary for life itself, which, as it turns out, are pretty exacting

I’ve been making yogurt since college, but even though over the years I’ve managed to figure out ways to make it work, it often involves complicated techniques bordering on the absurd, like swaddling my fledgling yogurt with an electric blanket, or hovering over it with a thermometer and taking its temperature every half hour.  If you happen to have a wood stove burning in your kitchen 24/7, or live in the tropics, you’ve got it made.  The rest of us have to get creative.

So I finally broke down and bought a yogurt maker on Cyber Monday.  I did a little research and this one is inexpensive, well reviewed, and makes the yogurt in a large batch, (up to 1/2 gallon) not in small individual containers like most makers do.  You can also use a mason jar or any other jar of your own, too, which is unusual.  What I like about it is that it’s low tech.  It simply surrounds the yogurt  in warm water kept at the right constant temperature.  It works and it takes the annoying uncertainty out of the whole deal.  It’s small and there’s nothing to clean except the container for the yogurt, which doubles as a storage container.   I’ve made 2 batches so far and both have been creamy and delicious.

Homemade yogurt is creamier and nicer tasting than store bought. It’s actually less sharp and tangy, which is a good thing, if you ask me. Plus you can flavor it as you make it, using add-ins like vanilla beans, espresso powder, almond extract, or anything you like.  I eat my morning yogurt with citrus sections, honey, and wheatgerm.

 

Making Yogurt

Ingredients

  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1/2 cup yogurt with live cultures (I like Total) or 5 grams packaged yogurt starter

Instructions

  1. Heat the milk in a heavy bottomed pot on medium heat until the temperature reaches 180F. The milk will look like it's just about to boil. Use a digital thermometer to check the temperature, and stir before you check it.
  2. Take off the heat and let the milk cool to 112F.
  3. Whisk in the yogurt or starter, make sure it's completely mixed in, and then either pour the milk into your yogurt machine, or set the pot, covered, in a warm spot for about 4 to 6 hours. You can try inside an oven with a pilot light, or on a counter wrapped in a heating pad or electric blanket on low. Don't move, stir, or disturb the yogurt while it sits.
  4. Refrigerate the thickened yogurt overnight, and then enjoy.

Notes

You can use low fat or even skim milk, but you may need to add powdered milk or even gelatin in order to get a thick final product.

https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/making-yogurt/

I’m not being paid to say this, and unfortunately nobody gave me a free yogurt maker, but I do think it would make a great gift!

 

20 Comments

  • Reply
    Janey
    January 29, 2015 at 11:23 am

    I used to make yogurt when I was in college 35 years ago. I kept it warm in an insulated Thermos bottle. Because of the insulation it stayed warm. I don’t think they are made anymore, but it worked great!

    • Reply
      Sue
      January 29, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      I’m on a never-ending quest to find the easiest yogurt making method, and that one sounds great. I’m just about to post another slow cooker version but yours sounds even easier!

  • Reply
    Karen
    July 25, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Looks delicious, simple and perfect for summer, yummy and a great breakfast too! My mom makes yogurt just freezing the Yakult probiotic milk .

  • Reply
    Trey
    December 14, 2012 at 2:28 am

    Mine doesn’t look near as good as yours. I’m going to have to try pouring into jars to steep. I like that idea. http://pinterest.com/pin/83316661826351530/

  • Reply
    Ted
    December 6, 2012 at 2:54 am

    After whisking in the starter, I put my yogurt in a 1/2 gallon mason jar and stick it in a cooler that’s filled halfway with hot water overnight. Works perfectly and nothing to buy.

  • Reply
    Tricia @ saving room for dessert
    December 3, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    I am impressed and amazed. This is wonderful. You were my hero when you made butter and mustard and now yogurt – you rock Sue!

  • Reply
    Junglefrog
    December 3, 2012 at 6:51 am

    Making my own yogurt is still high on my to do list and this looks pretty awesome. You convinced me to give it a try!

  • Reply
    The Café Sucré Farine
    December 2, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Your new little machine is very exciting, those little individual cup makers were a pain but this is wonderful! I love yogurt for breakfast too. I’ve been adding a handful of pomegranate seeds lately along with the citrus …………. oh my!

  • Reply
    Magnolia Verandah
    December 2, 2012 at 9:00 am

    I have an Easy Yo yogurt maker and made yogurt using that brand powder until they must have changed the recipe and it failed to set several times in a row and so havs been pushed to the back of the cupboard. You have inspired me to get it out – it looks like yours.

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      December 2, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      Maybe try using fresh yogurt as a starter, I’ve never used powder and always gotten good results. In the old days I used to save part of the batch of homemade yogurt to use as a starter for the next batch.

  • Reply
    yummychunklet
    December 2, 2012 at 4:30 am

    I’ve made paneer but never yogurt. I’ll have to try this dairy treat next.

  • Reply
    thyme Sarah
    December 2, 2012 at 3:52 am

    I will do this someday. I would just love to be at someone’s house and taste their homemade yogurt to see what it tastes like. I’ve never seen ‘yogurt starter’. Is it in powdered form? Where do you find it? Am I asking a really silly questions the planet knows but me?? I do buy this “Bulgarian Yogurt”, which is made in Texas (I don’t quite understand it…) but it does taste really delicious. I think that is as close as I have come to homemade.

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      December 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm

      Homemade yogurt tastes basically the same, but, if anything, I’d say it tends to be a little milder, and a little creamier (vs gelatin like). I think Bulgarian yogurt is also basically the same as other yogurts, but made with a specific set of bacteria. Sounds good, I’ll look for some. I gave a link to some yogurt starter, you can use it in place of actual yogurt to start the ball rolling in your homemade batch. You can buy it online, and it’s basically freeze dried yogurt.

  • Reply
    Servia
    December 1, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    OK, I am convinced. Love yogurt! I am definitely going to make my own. Thanks for the gentle push, Sue….and making it seem like I too could succeed with this.

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      December 2, 2012 at 4:17 pm

      What I like about this tool is that YOU are still making the yogurt, the machine is just keeping it warm for you… :)

  • Reply
    Averie @ Averie Cooks
    December 2, 2012 at 1:21 am

    You know I’ve never made yogurt but I make kefir, kombucha, I make bread, I ferment pickles, watermelon rinds and I’d ferment the table legs if I could. I love yeast and fermentation and the whole thing is just the best.

    What I do for my kombucha is I have this big hot plate that’s specially made for keep the temperature at *exactly* a certain degree. Like if I want it to be 82.3 F degrees, I can set it to that, and it will be. It was like $50 bucks maybe from this specialty kombucha place..totally worth it. LMK if you need the link but looks like you have a sweet little swaddling set up. Swaddle that baby tight :) I love it!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      December 2, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      What I wonder is if the plate can evenly heat the whole jar of yogurt that sits on top? Sounds like it’s about the same price as my yogurt ‘warmer’, but maybe more versatile—I’ll check out the link, thanks Averie.

  • Reply
    Gerlinde in Dallas
    December 1, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    I burst out laughing when you mentioned the electric blanket, although I imagine that could work quite well. Your yogurt looks really tasty!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      December 2, 2012 at 4:18 pm

      I really did make it that way, several times, last year when we were living in New England. It worked but looked absolutely ridiculous on the counter!

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