Sunday, January 15, 2012

Everything I Know About Making Yogurt

(Because Lindsey asked...)


An Introduction
I've been making my own yogurt for about five years now. I make a quart or two pretty much every week, and I estimate that we've saved at least $500. Depending on what kind of milk/yogurt you buy, your savings may vary.

I only do DIY cooking things that don't require a lot of effort. I've tried making my own tortillas and pasta, but I'm lazy and ten billion times prefer the convenience of pasta from a box and tortillas from a bag. Making yogurt is like making bread or using dried beans - they require
time but not a lot of hands on effort.

I have
this yogurt maker. I bought it five years ago for something like $30 bucks, and as I said, it has saved us a ton of money. A yogurt maker is not necessary for making yogurt, but I like having one.

I always use whole milk because I find that it makes thicker, better tasting yogurt. If you're concerned about fat content, you can add some powdered milk to skim milk to thicken it up.

The Process

1:: The cost of homemade yogurt is roughly 1/4 the cost of a gallon of milk, so if you buy a $3 gallon of whole milk, a quart of yogurt would be $0.75.

2:: You need a starter. The easiest way to get a start is by buying a container of unflavored yogurt from the grocery store with the words "live active cultures" on the package. Once you start making your own yogurt, your starter will come from the previous batch of yogurt.

3:: Heat a quart of milk to 185 degrees to kill any unwanted bacteria. I do this in the microwave, but beware - if you don't keep an eye on it, the milk might overflow, and that's a super annoying mess to clean up.

4:: Cool the milk down to between 115 and 120 degrees. I do this by putting the quart of milk in the fridge for about 45 minutes.

5:: Stir in the starter - 2 Tbsp to 1/4 cup unflavored yogurt.

6:: Keep your yogurt at a temperature of 115 to 120 degrees anywhere from 6 to 12 hours, depending on how tangy you like it. You can incubate it in a yogurt maker (the foolproof method I prefer), in an oven with the pilot light on, in a thermos, or in a crockpot. Any method will work as long as the temperature stays constant.

7:: Save 2 Tbsp. of yogurt to use for your next starter. I find that it's best to make yogurt weekly or my starter loses its strength, but otherwise, you can use your own yogurt starter almost indefinitely.

What to Do with All That Yogurt

:: Mix it with fruit.

:: Mix it with jam.

:: Make smoothies.

:: Plop it on your granola.

:: Substitute for buttermilk.

:: Substitute for cream in ice cream recipes to make frozen yogurt.

:: Substitute for sour cream.

:: Make yogurt cheese and use as a substitute for cream cheese.


  1. You may have convinced me to finally give it a try. We go through SO much yogurt around here. Maybe I'll try it in the crock pot first before investing in a yogurt maker.

  2. Kim - Awesome! Let me know if it works out for you.


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