There's something so satisfying about successfully completing a DIY project. For me, it's an instant confidence boost! I tend to feel more like a "Proverbs 31" kind of woman. How about you? In this post I'm going to show you how to make homemade yogurt and friends, this stuff is YUMMY! In our house we like to eat it with a little organic, raw honey (that I order from Vitacost).
Tips For Success
- I've used this recipe successfully with both ultra-pasteurized and raw milk!
- Using too much starter culture could actually cause the bacteria to run out room to grow and will result in runnier yogurt, not thicker yogurt.
- Pay attention to temperatures. They're important!
- Don't let your milk scald on the bottom on the pot as it heats. Stirring and heating at a lower temperature prevents this.
- Incubating longer doesn't necessarily mean you'll get thicker yogurt. The longer you incubate, the tangier the yogurt will taste. You can experiment with what incubating times make your favorite taste and firmness. I prefer the taste of yogurt that has incubated between 8-12 hours.
- Try to use fresh milk and fresh live and active cultures to help ensure success.
- Follow the recipe. When it says to stir, STIR. When it says to let rest undisturbed, stay away!
- You can save some of your homemade yogurt to use as a starter for your next batch. One way to preserve it (or so I've heard) is to store it in the freezer! I've personally never tried this so I can't promise it works.
What You Need
- Half a gallon of milk (8 cups)
- 2-4 tablespoons of plain yogurt with live and active cultures
- A thermometer
- Heat the milk to 180°F. I've heard of people microwaving the milk to bring it up to temperature, but I prefer to do it on a stove, in a pot, over medium heat, STIRRING OFTEN! If you do forget to stir it (like I almost always do) and it does begin to stick to the bottom of the pan, you're better off just not stirring it to avoid scraping up the scalded milk and adding it to your mixture.
- When the milk reaches 180°F, remove from heat and let cool to around 110°F. Simply remove the pot from the burner and let it cool. Some people do an ice bath. Be wary of putting it in your refrigerator as it will cause the internal temperature of the fridge to rise!
- When milk reaches 110°F, stir the live and active cultures into the milk. MIX WELL! I always remove any "skin" that may have formed on the top of the milk before adding my cultures. This is more common when using raw milk.
- Pour mixture into containers appropriate for incubation. What you use depends entirely upon what incubation method you decide to try. Mason jars with lids are simple and effective!
- Incubate your mixture, undisturbed, at approximately 105°F-115°F for at least 8 hours. I was given an electric pressure cooker for Christmas that has a "yogurt" setting and it will incubate the mixture at the proper temperature for as long as I want... it's definitely spoiling me! If you have an oven you can set to the proper temperature, you could use that. However here's my favorite, simple method: Put the yogurt/milk mixture into a container (or containers) and place in a cooler. Fill up some jars with boiling water and place them in the cooler amongst the yogurt mixture. Close the lid to trap in the heat, cover with a blanket for extra security, and leave to incubate. It works perfectly every time and uses no electricity or monitoring of temperature! There are an endless number of ways to incubate. Just remember that the temperature needs to be between 105°F-115°F for the bacteria to thrive and the yogurt to thicken the right way. I've found that when my incubation temperature is too low (80°F) I often get yogurt that is the consistency of Elmer's glue.
- When yogurt has finished incubating, place it in a cold place and chill it thoroughly.
- Your yogurt is ready to enjoy! If you prefer greek style yogurt, strain it through through a few layers of cheesecloth or a VERY fine strainer to remove some of the whey. If your yogurt isn't what you want it to be... troubleshoot! There is a solution for every yogurt ailment.
- Making homemade yogurt doesn't require a lot of fancy gadgets. You CAN purchase a yogurt maker, but it really is possible to make great yogurt without one AND save space in your kitchen AND save money by not buying one AND not purchase just one more thing that will likely end up in a landfill someday.
- Making homemade yogurt isn't labor intensive. The actual amount of time you spend preparing the ingredients is minimal. I can't promise you won't spend a lot of time thinking and hoping and praying that your yogurt will turn out well ;)
- Making homemade yogurt saves money! I buy organic whenever possible, and making homemade yogurt with organic milk and organic starter is infinitely cheaper than buying organic yogurt.
- Making homemade yogurt prevents waste if you re-use your containers. Think of all those plastic containers you'll no longer have to throw away!
- Homemade yogurt is yummy.
- Homemade yogurt is a fermented food. Which is a good thing :)
- Homemade yogurt tends to settle well with people who don't generally tolerate dairy because the bacteria in the live and active cultures pre-digest most of the lactose.
- Homemade yogurt is acceptable for those following diets that don't typically encourage dairy intake, such as the SCD diet, although sometimes a longer incubation period of 24 hours is required.
- You have control over all the ingredients you use! Eat it plain or add a little fruit or honey for sweetness.
- You want to use fresh live and active cultures for the best result, and if you're using store-bought plain yogurt with live and active cultures as a starter it can be hard to tell how fresh it is. You can buy freeze-dried cultures that don't risk expiring!
- Finding an incubation method that works for you can be a process. The yogurt needs to be incubated at between 105°F-115°F for it to thicken correctly. Some people can set their stove to a temperature within that range (and I'm jealous of those people), some people use a pre-warmed crockpot wrapped in towels, some people use an insulated cooler filled with containers of hot water, and some people get creative. The bottom line is that proper incubation is key and it can be tricky to maintain that perfect temperature while the yogurt incubates!
- Sometimes the yogurt doesn't thicken correctly. Sometimes the yogurt is grainy. All sorts of things can go wrong, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to diagnose the problem and try again.
- Every recipe is different. Literally, one recipe will call for 1 teaspoon per quart of milk and another will call for 2 tablespoons per quart of milk. One recipe calls for incubation at 100°F and another calls for incubation at 120°F. Who is right and who is wrong? In my research, I've found that there is room for variation, and that different recipes will both yield great yogurt. I like definitive answers... that's not what I was hoping to learn!