HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN YOGURT FROM SCRATCH.

I started making my own yogurt about 6 years ago.  I didn’t really think I could make it any better than they did in the stores (my homemade yogurt actually is marginally better) and I wasn’t even sure it was going to be any cheaper (it’s not) but I really wanted to make homemade yogurt just out of curiosity.

The other reason I wanted to be able to make homemade yogurt is because of my imaginary world.  This is the world many of us let our minds wander to when we should be thinking about insurance rates, mutual funds or other gross things.   In my imaginary world I’m usually at the cottage (that I don’t own) and everyone is  gathered around when we all realize, much to our horror, that we don’t have any butter, or bread or … in this case … yogurt.  “Everybody calm the hell down.”, I say, my arms outstretched, palms facing the ground, in the internationally known gesture of “calm the hell down”.  “We have whipping cream, flour, yeast and milk.  We’ve got this.”    

Butter as you know is made by shaking whipping cream.

Bread is made with flour, water, salt and yeast.

And Yogurt … is made with milk.  (And a little bit of yogurt.  But that ruins imaginary world where I miraculously produce yogurt with just milk.   So.)

Therefore 6 years ago I started making my own yogurt so if I ever own a cottage and am ever stranded there with a group of yogurt starved people I need to impress, I will be able to impress them.

It’s so easy and so fun that I’ve literally forced my yogurt making enlightenment on others.  Strangers in fact.   This particular episode took place about 5 and a half years ago.

I was standing in my local health food store minding my own business when a woman opened up the refrigerator and pulled out a tub of Liberté Greek Yogurt.

Well.

I couldn’t even believe she did it. She stood there, right in FRONT of me, holding yogurt. To purchase. I mean, I don’t want to say there was something wrong with her, but clearly … there was something wrong with her.  To do that and not expect to me to jump right up in her face and start telling her about how she can make her own yogurt, is insanity.

INSANITY I SAY.

I tried to be kindda cool about it, but 3 sentences into my inspirational diatribe on how she could make her own yogurt, I realized my speech was getting really rapid and maybe a touch too animated for anything outside of a meth amphetamine lab.  I … I couldn’t help myself.

I once stopped a lady in line at Costco to tell her she shouldn’t be buying pre-cut stewing beef because it’d end up making her stew gross instead of delicious. Go buy a blade or a cross rib roast and cut it up I told her.  These shopping situations always pop up when I’m by myself (because no one will go shopping with me anymore.).

So, the woman with the yogurt. I spent a couple of minutes telling her how easy it was to make yogurt, and how I was actually going home right that second to make yogurt myself. As I was telling her the 2 temperatures she had to remember, her eyebrows scrunched together and she appeared to be trying to commit them to memory. Either that, or she was trying to memorize my facial features for the police sketch artist.

I skipped out of the store, confident in the notion that I had either supplied this woman with a life changing recipe, or gave her a really good story to tell her family. Or the cops.

As I mentioned, I just can’t help myself. I’m not being a know it all, I just want people to do things better, smarter, cheaper. I want everyone’s life to be more enjoyable.

And homemade yogurt is a one way ticket to an enjoyable life. It really is. Hell, even if you only do it a few times a year you still get that “I’m just a little bit better than everyone else” feeling.

 

How to make Yogurt.

Making your own yogurt is easy, fun and gives you that little feeling of superiority we all like to experience every now and again.
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Servings: 2 cups Greek or 4 cups Regular yogurt.
Author: The Art of Doing Stuff

Ingredients

  • 1 litre quart of Milk, (whole, 2%, 1% or skim)
  • 1 Tbsp active yogurt plain

Instructions

  • Heat your milk in a saucepan over medium heat to 180 F (almost boiling, this happens quickly)
  • Remove pan from heat and allow milk to cool to 115 F. This will take around 30 minutes.
  • Once the milk is at 115 degrees, stir in 2 Tablespoons of yogurt until combined.
  • Now your job is to keep this concoction at 115 degrees for the next 8 hours. There are a few ways to do this:
  • Pour your milk mixture into a mason jar (or similar) with lid and place the entire jar into a small cooler filled with warm water. Leave for 8 hours. Or ...
  • Pour your milk mixture into a good thermos, wrap it in a towel and leave it for 8 hours. Or ...
  • Put your yogurt in the oven if your oven has an oven setting as low as 115 and leave it for 8 hours.
  • After 8 hours you will have 4 cups of yogurt that's probably thinner than what you're used to.
  • You can refrigerate it as is, or you can drain the liquid whey out by straining the yogurt through cheesecloth for a couple of hours in the fridge. Just pour the yogurt into cheesecloth, tie it up and hang it over a bowl.

Here are a few tips and a visual step by step:

You can use whole, 2%, 1% or skim milk.

I always use homogenized  milk.  (do not use ultra pasteurized)

To “activate” your  yogurt, you need 2 Tablespoons of  plain yogurt with active cultures.  Just look for the words probiotic or active cultures.

Heat your milk to 180° F (until almost boiling) over medium heat.  It won’t take long so keep an eye on it.

 

Remove your milk from the heat and set it on the counter until it comes down to 110-115° F.  This will take around half an hour to 45 minutes.
3

 

Once your milk has cooled to 115° F, stir in 2 Tablespoons of active plain yogurt.

Stir well until combined.

4

 

Pour your milk mixture into a glass jar.  I used to use a large mason jar with a lid on it. Now I use a large, good quality Thermos.

5

 

Your yogurt has to stay at 115° F for the next 6-8 hours.  Overnight is best.

So.  How to do this?  Well some ovens have a warm temperature that will  keep the oven at 120° F.  Heat your oven to this temperature, then put your yogurt in the oven and turn OFF the oven.  Leave the oven door closed with the yogurt inside for 6 hours.

If you  have a big enough insulated thermos, you can just put the yogurt in the thermos, wrap it in towels and leave it.  Like I mentioned, this is how I do it now.

Or you can do what I used to do. Put a mason jar of yogurt into a cooler, fill the cooler up with hot water from the tap (hottest possible) and close the cooler.  Let it sit for 6-8  hours.

6

For extra insurance, you can wrap the cooler in a towel.

Once the milk  has sat for 6-8 hours like this, you will have yogurt!  You can either put it in the fridge as is (your yield will be 4 cups) or you can make Greek Style yogurt, which is what I do.  I love a good, thick, creamy yogurt.

To make Greek Yogurt, after letting your yogurt sit for it’s prescribed 6-8 hours, just pour it into a cotton dish towel or cheesecloth and allow it to drain over a bowl in the fridge for 1-2 hours.  You’ll be amazed at the amount of whey they drips out.    Once it has drained, just scrape the yogurt out of dish towel/cheese cloth and stir it up well with a whisk.  Your yield will only be 2 cups of yogurt, but it will be a smooth, rich, delicious Greek Yogurt.

You can either eat it plain, stir in some honey for sweetness or top it with a dollop of jam to make a fruit yogurt.  Of course, you can also put the jam on the bottom and top it with yogurt, creating a fruit on the bottom yogurt.

I always remove 2 Tablespoons right away and put them in a little dish in the fridge.  That way I know I have my starter for the next batch of yogurt.

I really hope that woman I accosted went home and made yogurt.  She admitted she’d better go home and do it right away, otherwise she’d forget about it and never make it.  And I could see she really wanted to.  Honestly.

I liked that health food store yogurt woman.  I wonder if she has a cottage.

259 Comments

  1. K says:

    Hello, Karen, I enjoyed your post! 🙂 And, not to be a know-it-all either, something I JUST learned from reading “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, is that yogurt should be fermented for at least 24 hours (pg 218). Also, if you can possibly use raw milk, it is far and away better, and does not need to be heated to a high temperature as with pasteurized milk. There are whole books written on why raw milk from healthy pastured animals is good and pasteurized is not. Above and beyond the health aspect of products from pastured animals, I could go into a rendition on the horrendous conditions animals endure in commercial animal treatment (concentrated animal feeding operation, CAFO) over humane treatment, but that is more than you want to hear. I love my really healthy homemade raw yogurt! If you can possibly obtain raw milk, I hope you will try it. Either way, please at least think about fermenting yogurt longer for better probiotics. 🙂 I lift a beautiful glass of yogurt to your health! 🙂

  2. Tina says:

    I have been making yogurt for years. A gallon at a time. Used to keep it warm by setting slow cooker on warm, Inverting a steamer basic in the base and setting the crock on top of that. Now I put in in my bread riser(more control over temp). I recently started using raw milk but am afraid that heating it to 180 will destroy the good natural probiotics I want to keep. Any info on that? What is the reason for heating to 180?

  3. tonya says:

    made yogurt for the 1st time saturday. it was wonderful. ready 2 eat by supper sunday. hubby can not stand yogurt. i whined and pestered him into trying a bite. he had 2 helpings!! i got up monday after he had left for work- he had finished off the rest. so made 4 pints tonite. it’s all cozy and incubating in the kitchen right now. hope he leaves me some. making yogurt is going to be a regular part of my life now.

  4. unicorn says:

    how long dose it keep

  5. Marna says:

    I use to make yogurt about 40 years ago, maybe more. My husband didn’t like it, but I did try to make cheese out of it, it was more like cream cheese. I experimented with different herbs and spices. I ate it and like it. Once I had children I didn’t really have time to do it. I will have to try it again, thanks.

  6. Marie Barclay says:

    You can actually use the cheesecloth method to make the yogurt into a kind of cream cheese; just keep it draining until solid.
    The amount of yogurt my youngest goes through, I’ve made one litre batches for years using the powdered culture mixes. Much cheaper (just add water), and nicer, and less artificial nasties – they are essentially milk powder and culture, with optional natural flavourings.
    Not that we have enough left to make into cream cheese often, but it is nice. Strawberry flavoured works well!

  7. Melody says:

    We’re restricting carbs and milk has a whole bunch. Do you think this could happen with half and half or cream?

  8. Lois says:

    Everyone–thanks for all the info on making yogurt & tzatziki! My head is only a little exploded from all this new knowledge

  9. Renee Rydzewski says:

    So going to try this. I eat so much yogurt. But in the ingredient list, it states 1 tablespoon of yogurt, but I see it should be 2 every where else. I use pure stevia extract in vanilla, or toffee or you can stir in a spoon of vanilla bean paste.

    • Karen says:

      To be perfectly honest Renee, 1 – 2 Tablespoons will work. Just as long as you get the probiotics in there. 🙂 I’ll fix the recipes though so it’s the same all the way through! Thx. ~ karen!

  10. Thandi says:

    Hang on…does this mean I can also MAKE MY OWN LABNEH?? From scratch scratch??
    *Gasp*

  11. Alison says:

    Only recently discovered your blog, and it makes me laugh every time. I’m in England, in the Lake District, and believe me, with the amount of rain we get, we need a laugh.

    My husband has bees in his bonnet every so often. One, last year, was making his own yogurt, as he eats some each lunchtime. Not making it your simple way. Oh no. He had to get hold of Kefir yogurt, which he’d recently read about. It cost £15 for a pkt of six starters, and took 2 weeks to order from a health food shop. It takes more time than it’s worth to make. And is very runny.

    Guess what? He made it once, and now the other pkts sit at the back of the fridge. He’s forgotten all about it.

    Have I reminded him? No. He makes a mess, and I’m left to clean up. So soon, I’ll quietly drop it in the compost, where it’ll do some good, and deny all knowledge if he one day remembers it.

    But I really like your recipe. I have an AGA cooker, and nothing could be simpler than utilising the warming oven to nurture the yogurt. Or I could continue buying it from the shops…

  12. Jackie says:

    I make 4 litres worth of yoghurt every 10 days or so. (The full three bags).
    I find this to be quite a bit cheaper than buying Greek yoghurt.
    I use my instant pot pressure cooker which has a yogurt setting- you can boil and incubate in the pot.
    I freeze my starter in ice cube trays so I don’t have to worry about keeping some for the next batch and one cube is enough for the entire batch. I also don’t have to worry about failure- about using the old to make the new too many times in a row.

    • Lois says:

      Holy cow! I HAVE an instant pot pressure cooker that I have owned since some fabulous sale on Amazon and have YET to use. Now if I could just figure out where it is . . .

  13. Richard says:

    Oh yes, she strain the grains with a nylon sieve for the next batch.

  14. Richard says:

    My wife does Kéfir (with billions more probiotics enzymes than yogurt). You do it the same way, except with cold milk with Kéfir grains (instead of Yogurt culture/yogurt) that you leave on the counter at room temperature overnight, and voilà! – MUCH LESS expensive than at any store, and MUCH MORE beneficial than yogurt.

    • Karen says:

      I know, but I really just prefer yogourt. I even get weirded out by kids having drinkable yogourt. It just seems gross to me, lol. Plus it’s much more difficult to pour honey over your kefir. 😉 ~ karen!

  15. Mel Hosgen says:

    If you add skim milk powder at rate of 50g/L milk you will get greek yoghurt without having to strain it… I also add 100g live yoghurt/L milk… turns out thick ‘pot set’ yoghurt every time!

  16. I’m not an appliance pusher – but the instant pot has changed my yogurt making life. Pour the milk into the mason jars and then everything happens in the jars – you heat, you cool, you add a small scoop of yogurt to each jar, you let it culture, then put on the lids and put it in the fridge. No clean-up, no muss, no fuss. Thing of beauty.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. I know, I know. EVERYone has told me I have to get one. But … I don’t know. I’m 90 percent sold on it. I’ll probably buy one and review it in a post here. 🙂 ~ karen!

  17. Rosie Walsh says:

    I’ve become addicted to whole milk and whole milk yoghurt. Get it at an Indian grocery. Bought the low fat by mistake. The difference in flavor, to me. was amazing. Won’t make that mistake again because now I’ll be making my own.

  18. Renee Rydzewski says:

    I know this is an older post, but it states 1 tablespoon in the recipe, then 2 tablespoons in the column itself. Want to try this, but which is it? I eat sooo much yogurt I would save alot of cash doing this!

    • Karen says:

      HI Renee, thanks someone else pointed that out. It’s either or. 🙂 It really doesn’t make a difference as long as you get some probiotics in there. 1 heaping Tablespoon is good. I’ll adjust the recipe now. Thx. ~ karen!

  19. Laura says:

    I bought some coconut silk milk to try an copy a drink recipe (didn’t work btw) I was wondering if I could use this to make the yogurt? Then it would be already flavored. What do you think Karen?

  20. Rebecca says:

    I have been making yogurt on and off for about a year – i find it cheaper and tastier because as a single person I just can’t get through a 4-litre of milk before it expires and I can’t allow myself to buy a smaller amount because the higher unit price drives me insane!! 2 litres costs nearly as much as 4 – ridiculous!

    Plus I saved a dozen lavender coloured French clay yogurt pots from working abroad and get to bring them to work filled to the brim with yogurt! So cute!!

  21. Jessica says:

    My daughter makes yogurt in her sippy cup/bottle overnight sometimes. Sometimes she just holds that warm bottle of milk all night, and every once in a while inthe morning, it is all yogurt-y.

    No one eats it, but it’s very weird how it sometimes happens on its own (20-30% of the time)

  22. Jody says:

    Are you a mind reader? I was considering looking to make yogurt the other day. Another question. Why does pre-cut stewing beef make a stew gross?

    • Karen says:

      ‘Cause it’s made up of all different cuts of meat so they all cook at different times. Some are tougher than others etc. Cheaper and better to buy a blade roast or the like and cut it yourself into squares. ~ karen!

  23. Mary W says:

    What I really wish you would experiment with, Karen, is ricotta cheese. I’ve heard it is so easy to make but never tried. Love to use it in lasagna and desserts. There is another type of cheese that I think people make easily – just don’t remember what it is right now but can you read my mind and try it, also? Thanks Karen! There really isn’t anything you can’t do, in my book.

  24. Mary W says:

    I’ve never tried this since the store is so close, but I would think a cat warmer would work wonderfully to keep it warm for yogurt. The cat warmer never gets above ?? (cat temp) so I may break down and try this – I ADORE yogurt and quick oats refrigerated overnight with dried cranberries and pecans. I really DO NOT like greek yogurt Sam I Am and I have tried it. I love buttermilk.

  25. Victoria says:

    Get an InstantPot! It makes yogurt making even easier. I follow This Old Gal’s instructions from her blog. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

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