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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Homemade Yogurt

Since I have gotten a few requests for how I make our yogurt I thought I would share it with you. Some of you have no desire to make yogurt let alone eat it so I understand if you just skip on by . :)…or you could just say hello since your here anyways. :)

It really is easy… if I can do it, anyone can do it. :)

I do have a yogurt maker that I still use… thanks to my dear sister…


…but I cannot keep up with the demand so I have resorted to an alternative method because I can make much larger batches this way.

You do NOT need a yogurt maker to make your own delicious goodness.

If you and your family go through a lot of yogurt this really is the way to go.  Since I pay $3 for a gallon of milk it basically costs me $3 to make a gallon of yogurt.

And not just any yogurt…the best yogurt you will EVER eat.

We also drain our yogurt to make Greek yogurt and use it to replace sour cream, which is all the more reason to make it!

To start out you need any kind of milk…raw or pasteurized. Cow, goat or sheep milk or even powdered milk work.  I use whole raw organic cows milk.

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You will also need a plain yogurt starter, with live cultures that don’t have anything added to it. No sugar or pectin. No fruit. If it does, it will not work. After this first time, you will set aside some yogurt to use for your next batch. You will do this each time you make it.

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You can also buy freeze dried yogurt starter.

yogurt making 032  You can also take a batch of yogurt and freeze it in ice cube trays and then put it in baggies to pull out as you need it. I haven’t tried this yet but am planning on doing that soon.

You will need a large jar or container to incubate the yogurt in.

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A large pan and thermometer. You can use a double boiler if you would like.

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A heating pad and a couple of dish towels for the incubation of the yogurt. I lay my heating pad on a board.

yogurt making 027 There are other ways to incubate the yogurt but I found this keeps the most consistent heat and I can just forget about it for a good 7 hours.

I did try the Crockpot and it did turn out but I had a harder time keeping it at that consistent temperature. I also tried the oven method but again I struggled with keeping a consistent temp of 90-110 degrees and fretted needlessly about it because in the end it turned out just fine. :)

Measure milk into large pan and heat over medium heat. I put a little bit more milk then the amount of yogurt I plan on making because some of it evaporates.

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Some people recommend stirring the milk. I have never done this and my yogurt has always turned out.

At this time, I  remove my yogurt culture from the refrigerator so that it will be at room temperature by the time I need it. I have used 6 oz of yogurt but in my research found out that I could even use less. I have now been using about 2 T yogurt per quart of milk.

I put the yogurt into the container I am going to mix it with the milk in. If the jar I am using has a wide mouth on it, I will use that. If I don’t have yogurt I pour  a package of the freeze dried starter into the bowl or container.

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Put thermometer in pan so you can monitor the temperature. Once it reaches 180 degrees, turn down the heat and keep at this temperature for a few minutes. Then shut burner off and remove from heat.

Let cool down to 110 degrees. You can make this time shorter by setting the pan in ice water. It should not be any hotter then this when you add it to your culture as it could kill the cultures. Some say that it could be 120-130 degrees but I’ve never tried this.

Once it is 110 degrees, skim any film off that formed on the top of the milk. Then pour a little of the warm milk into your yogurt culture and stir well with a wire whisk.


Add rest of warm milk and stir well. If you are putting the yogurt into a different jar then pour into the jar and cover. If you did your mixing inside your wide mouth jar, put your lid on.

Set jar on your heating pad.


This is your incubator. This is what replaces the yogurt makers base.


The purpose of incubation is to keep the yogurt between 90-110 degrees for a period of time to let it ferment.

Make sure the heating pad is not one that automatically shuts off. Set pad to medium.

Cover with dish towel. I use 2 because my kitchen is cool right now due to our cooler weather. The towels replace the plastic dome that a yogurt maker has.


If your kitchen is drafty and cooler you may need to wrap the heating pad and jar in a thicker towel to maintain that consistent heat. You will want to check the temperature about an hour later to see if the temperature is staying between 90-110.

Heating pads can vary so adjust yours to keep the right temperature.

When you check the temperature if it is above this temperature, turn down heating pad or take off one of the towels. If it seems to be cooling down too much add another towel.

Remember, once you have done this a couple of times and know what works for you to keep it at a consistent temperature, you will be able to leave it and walk away from it for the incubation period.

If you are using whole milk your incubation time will be 7 hours. 9 hours for 2%. 11 hours for 1%. 12 hours for skim.

The more fat in your milk the shorter the time of incubation. The longer you let it ferment the more sour it will be. 

Since I use whole milk, at 7 hours I  check my yogurt. If it looks like custard it is done incubating. It will still be thin. Do NOT stir or shake to mix as this will disturb the cultures. Carefully set jar in refrigerator. It will thicken up as it cools down. Cool for at least 2 hours. Some recommend longer.

I really think it comes down to experimenting and trial & error. I have found that 7 hours has been pretty consistent in getting good results with whole milk.

Once your yogurt is done cooling it is ready to eat.

You can sweeten with a little honey or pure maple syrup.

We usually add fresh fruit and sometimes granola on top.


Honestly, it tastes like you are eating dessert. 

 If you want thicker yogurt,(often called Greek yogurt) you can put a coffee filter in a strainer and set in taller bowl.

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Or if you have cheese cloth you can drain it in this also. Put yogurt in filter or cloth and set back in refrigerator. I drain mine for at least 2 hours but often times I drain it overnight. The longer it drains the thicker it will be. It is thick and creamy and can also be used to replace sour cream on things you eat and for baking and cooking.

The liquid that drains from the yogurt is whey.

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It is very good for you. I suppose you could drink it like a friend of mine does. But honestly I don’t think most people would like that.

You can put it in a spray bottle and spray your hair with it and let it sit for a while before washing out. You can also use it on your skin. Some put it into the bathtub and soak in it. I use mine in place of water when I make breads. It gives bread such a good flavor. Some use it as part of the liquid to make smoothies.

I have read that you can thicken your yogurt by adding a package of Knox gelatin or powdered milk to your yogurt when you are adding the warm milk to the yogurt culture. I have personally never tried this. If you do this, you must make sure you don’t use this yogurt as a culture to make your next batch.

On occasion I have added 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup and 1/4 cup of pureed strawberries to the yogurt starter. If I do this, I take them out and leave on counter to bring to room temperature at the same time I take the yogurt out. I do this mainly for the little lady who likes pink yogurt.

When my finished product seems to be more runny(usually after about 5-6 batches) I take this as a sign that my culture has grown weak so I start my next batch with a fresh culture. Presently I use the freeze dried starter since it is cost efficient and I don’t have to run out and find good yogurt to use. One box has 6 pouches and costs me just under $6. You can order this online or find it at health food stores or at a coop like I do.

I still use the runny yogurt because it’s still good and is perfect for smoothies.

The yogurt is suppose to last at least a week(some say 2 weeks) but I wouldn’t know because it goes too quickly.

So there you go. If you give this a try let me know how it goes.

Good luck!

My next project? Learning how to make homemade laundry soap. Wish me luck! :) 

Until next time, love & hugs, Lori


Joyce A Gray said...

I am going to put this on my list of things to accomplish. It sounds so yummy! Hope you have a good day.

Buckeroomama said...

I was wondering how you make your yogurt without a yogurt maker. :) Thanks for sharing, although I don't think I will be attempting this any time soon... :)

Hilary said...

Yum! I've made yogurt in the oven years ago but never would have thought to use a heating pad. What a great idea.

When you make the Greek style yogurt, consider adding fresh garlic, dill and grated (well drained) cucumber to it to turn it into Tzatziki sauce.. incredibly delicious with pork, chicken, a sandwich spread.. it's so yummy.

Thanks for sharing the yogurt-making details. :)

~Joy said...

Thnks Lori for putting this up! I was just telling Ben a couple days ago that I wanted to start making my own yogurt. We jsut started getting raw organic milk from a farm near us and I thought it would be fun to try and use it for yogurt. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Lori - THANK YOU so much for posting this! I've been wanting to make my own yogurt for some time now, but you have no idea how timely this is. Last night, we were at the health food store and Beloved came to me and said, "They have yogurt starter here." And sure enough, they did, including the freeze-dried stuff you just showed. I told him we'd come back for it, because I wanted to read up on it first, especially since I don't have a yogurt maker (and had read that I didn't necessarily need one). And here you are, giving me step-by-step instructions!

And the whey!! I want to do some lacto-fermented vegetables this fall - they are supposed to be very, very good for you. Whey is what I need for them, and you gave me that, too. You are a doll!

Debbie said...

Wow!! I'll bet it is the best yogurt ever! What patience you have! I see you are having a wonderful time still with the grands! Good for you....what an amazing mother and grandmother you are Lori. You are making wonderful memories with these kids that will be with them forever. It is an extremely important job. Thanks for stopping by my blog so often lately!! Sorry it has taken me so long to get back here. I always love being here when I get here....a big "Ahhhhh" always comes over me! Enjoy the fall my friend.~~.

LPC said...

So healthy for those little ones.

Jeannie said...

I'd forgotten that I made yoghurt a couple years ago using a heating pad - my daughter ate a lot of it then

I should try it again - I have no clue where the heating pad is now but my stove has a keep warm element (I should check the temperature)

Brian Miller said...

as much yogurt as my boys eat i need to start making my own....

Colleen: said...

This sounds absolutely delicious! I love yogurt so much! Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipe!

Busy Bee Suz said...

This is SOOOOO cool.
Your family is lucky that you do this for them.
Interesting about the whey...I never knew.