Do you love yogurt? Do you love wholesome yogurt that contains live cultures, and no artificial ingredients? Me too. And that means I love yogurt that typically costs over $1.00 per single-serving container, and considering all six of us in my family eat yogurt everyday, that adds up pretty quickly.
I also use plain Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream, as well as in certain recipes. Yogurt is an absolute essential in our kitchen, so it makes sense for me to make my own, considering the substantial savings. Even though it took a few fails in my attempts to create a heathy batch of yogurt (including a batch that smelled and looked like baby spit-up), I now can’t imagine not making it. I tried several recipes before landing on a successful one, and it’s a simple, enjoyable process that doesn’t require a yogurt maker or any fancy supplies. In fact, if you’re interested, you probably already have most of what you need already. TIP: I begin the process before bed, right after dinner, since your milk/yogurt mixture will be incubating in the oven overnight (approximately 12 hours).
An oven :), stock pot/5 Liter pot with lid, thermometer, strainer, large bowl, whisk, mixing spoon, measuring cup, storage containers of choice, and tea towel. Ingredients include a gallon of whole milk and one cup of quality plain yogurt with live cultures. Pictured below is Grassmilk, but for my last batch of yogurt I used the Stoneyfield brand and liked that very much. After you get going, you will reserve one cup of your own batch to use as your starter the next time, if you like. If you keep that going, the only ingredient you’ll have to buy is your gallon of milk.
Pour 1 gallon of milk into a stockpot or large pot and heat over med-high heat. Stir frequently and gently raise temperature to 180 – 185 degrees.
While milk is heating, scoop out one cup of your starter yogurt and set aside at room temp.
When milk has reached 180 degrees, remove from heat. You need to let it cool to about 110 -115 degrees. ” Once your milk and starter are combined, all that’s left is to keep the yogurt at a steady temperature (110-115) undisturbed, for 5 -10 hours, which allows for the good bacteria to flourish.” -Epicurious.com To do this, I slowly pour/transfer to a different pot (pictured below) with the lid off and stir gently/often to help release heat. Since it’s on the counter top, I loosely cover with paper towel to avoid any unwanted particles from settling in my mixture. Monitor temperature carefully. This is the most intensive/ time-consuming part of the process–heating and cooling the milk accurately. After this, you basically set it and forget it.
When milk is cooled to 110-115, use a 2-cup liquid measuring cup to remove one cup of the milk, then add the cup of yogurt you set aside to it, and whisk together gently to thin out the yogurt. Then, pour that mixture back into your pot of milk and whisk it gently in, spreading throughout milk. You are adding in the cultures that will be incubating in your milk to create yogurt. Then promptly place the lid on your pot, place it in your oven (oven is OFF), shut the oven door, and turn the oven light on. Leave the pot of milk/yogurt alone, overnight, for about 10 hours, I do 12 (you can give or take hours depending on your preferences later). The first part of the process is complete 🙂
When you wake up the next morning, if it’s been somewhere around 10-12 hours, pull your pot out of the oven. (For instance, I start warming/cooling milk around 5 pm-ish the night before, so pot is in the oven by around 6 pm, then I take it out of oven around 6 am the next morning…this works with my schedule).
When you take the lid off, you will see some yellowish liquid(whey) has pooled a little on top of the mixture, and the mixture is now a yogurt-like texture. This is a good indicator that your yogurt is ready. You could pour it into a large bowl and whisk it to make it smooth, let it cool a bit, then transfer to storage device(s) and refrigerate. However, I strain it a bit more first, because we like it a bit thicker. I pour the whole pot of fresh yogurt into a tea towel-lined strainer, which is sitting on top of my stockpot (to catch the liquid whey that drains out). See below:
So, I let the yogurt strain (at room temp) for about an hour to get a decent amount of liquid (whey) out. (P.S. You can save the whey and use it…I haven’t looked into that yet!) Whisk it a bit here & there to get the liquid moving around/draining well. Then, I remove about 2/3 of the yogurt and place in container in fridge, reserving one cup and labeling it as starter yogurt for next time. I let the remaining 1/3 thicken even more, maybe another hour or so, then remove that (scooping out) and refrigerate as well (I mix both together later, for the consistency we like). The first time I strained yogurt, I did it for several hours in the fridge…it was very thick and didn’t yield much yogurt after that. Tip: go ahead and scrape the thickened yogurt off the tea towel when you remove it…when you whisk it all together later it will mix nicely.
After yogurt has cooled in fridge, you can store it as you like. I put mine all together and whisk well, then divide, leaving some plain in bulk, and flavoring some and placing in individual serving jars. Flavoring is fun, you can experiment with many different natural ingredients, including lemon, cinnamon, pure maple syrup, honey, sifted cocoa, etc. You can use as little or as much as you like. You can add fruit, granola…the options are endless.
I hope this post helps anyone else interested in the process of yogurt-making. At first, it seems a bit intimidating but it can become a simple routine, and an enjoyable one. I tried several different methods, and so far the oven method as been the simplest and most budget-friendly. At first, I invested in things I didn’t really even need (a new crock pot, fine mesh strainer –although these are great—, and cheesecloth). I think I remembered everything, feel free to post any questions or additional tips/advice! Oh, and this recipe yields enough yogurt to supply our family of six for about a week, maybe a little under a week (our kids are little)? You could cut the ingredients in half if you don’t need so much! Enjoy! -Jess
NOTE: The basis for this recipe can be found at :