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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Homemade Yogurt

Several years ago I inherited my Mom's old yogurt maker from the 70's.  Well, to be truthful, I borrowed it for so long she forgot where it was until I confessed.  She let me keep it!  (Wish I could "borrow" her 100 year old upright grand piano! LOL)  I've made many batches of yogurt in this machine.  It has been well worth the money Mom paid for it.  :)

You do NOT, however, have to have a neat little machine to make fine yogurt!  The only thing that machine does, is keep the yogurt at a constant temperature while it incubates (I know that makes it sound like it's going to hatch, but it's the only word I can think of to describe it at the moment!) .... around 100 degrees.  There are several other options for keeping it warm but I'll just share the two I've used.

There are a few items that are useful for making yogurt:  a cooking thermometer the one I use looks like THIS.... a larger, heavy bottomed pot.... glass jars, quart, pint, or even jelly jars would be great.

This will take a little time to complete, but you won't be standing in the kitchen the whole time.  Don't let it intimidate you!  Give it a try!

Homemade Yogurt

2 quarts of milk - either fresh or mixed from dry
1/4 C. plain yogurt with live culture

Pour milk into a heavy bottomed pot.  Over medium heat (or just under that) bring milk to 170-180 degrees.  Stir often to avoid scorching - especially helpful to stir constantly once it gets above 140 degrees.  Be patient and use a lower heat or it will scorch.  Once you reach 180 degrees, remove from heat and let cool to 110.  This takes a while, if you want to hurry it up, put ice water in your sink and set the pan in the ice water.  Stir often to keep a skin from forming on the top.  If one does form, skim it off and toss.  While your milk is cooling, set your 1/4 C. yogurt out on the counter to start warming up.   When the milk is at 110 degrees, mix a little milk into the yogurt to thin it down and then add that whole amount back into the pan of milk.  Pour into clean glass jars, cover with lids. 

Choose your own method of keeping the yogurt warm while it incubates.  The two I've used are: 

1.  Place filled jars inside a food cooler, pour in a few quarts of hot water, around 120 degrees or slightly more, replace cooler lid.

2.  Place jars in large pot - big enough you can cover with a lid.  Pour hot water around jars, cover with lid and then wrap pan with a heavy towel.  

Let your prepared yogurt incubate for at least 4 hours - up to 8 hours.  After 4 hours, lift one jar and tip it slightly to test how set it has become.  When it seems fairly firm, put all jars in the refrigerator to chill.   Serve with fruit or sweeten with jam, the plain yogurt can be used to make cream cheese.

Joy's Notes:   I've found that the higher fat milk you use, the better the texture is. Often I use reconstituted dry milk. (Whey based dry milk substitute does not set up well, use regular or instant powdered milk)  I add an extra 1/2-1 C. of powder when I mix it to give it more body and sometimes I add a few cups of whole milk to it.   I read that the longer you incubate past the 4 hours, the more thick and tart your yogurt will be.  It definitely is more tart the longer it sits. I've had batches turn out super thick and others much thinner.  I think the quality of the yogurt start is a factor as well as the milk used. Some of my batches have been so mellow I could eat the plain yogurt and it tasted wonderful!  Other batches have definitely needed jam to sweeten. :o)    Lately I've been doing 1 gallon at a time.  I just use a 6 quart pan or larger to heat the milk.  This keeps in the fridge nicely about a week.

Homemade yogurt is a healthy snack.  We love homemade strawberry or raspberry jam to flavor it.  Try using it with some fruit to make smoothies for a healthy breakfast!  Making yogurt at home is a good way to control the amount of sugar added and you know your ingredients.  Plus, on a "Green" note - think of all those plastic containers you're saving from the landfills!   Enjoy your yogurt adventures!

I think I've been working on this post too long!  The word "yogurt" is starting to look funny to me, as though it's spelled incorrectly.  I'll check back later and see if it's better then.  :)


  1. Have you had better luck with a particular brand of yogurt for a start? And do you always use store bought yogurt for a start, or do you use homemade sometimes?

  2. I usually get the Western Family brand just because it's cheaper. I did get a Lucerne yogurt at WinCo last time though and that yogurt had the most mellow flavor of any yet. I've heard that Mountain High gives a good flavor, but it's only available in the huge tub here so I haven't tried it.

    You can use some of the homemade for starter next time, but after about 2 times of that the yogurt doesn't set as thick. You can freeze the store bought yogurt in portion sizes and just thaw enough for a batch as you need it as well.

  3. Timely for me, I'm about to go back to making my own. Walmart stopped carrying the kind I like, which is Stonyfield organic in the big tub. They didn't have it for a couple of weeks so I was getting nervous...sure enough, they reorganized the yogurt section and are only carrying it in strawberry and blueberry while I only want the plain and vanilla.

    I use the old Hillbilly Housewife thermos method. Simple but I got used to buying it and am feeling lazy....just not lazy enough to look for it at a different store. :)

  4. Jan I haven't tried the thermos method yet. Mainly because I always need a larger batch than I have thermos for. Sounds like it would work perfect though.

    Really, it doesn't take much work to mix up a batch does it! - just checking in on it while you get other work done. :) And you could make it as organic as you like with organic milk & yogurt start. :)