My husband and I have been going to the farmer’s market on a weekly basis for quite a while now. Ever since I bought yogurt there, I was hooked. I could not go back to store-bought yogurt. However, at $2.50 a pop, this was turning into quite the expensive habit. I decided there had to be a way I could make this delicious yogurt myself, for much cheaper. Turns out there is! It took me three failures before I finally got it. But I got it! So if you don’t get it the first time – don’t give up!
Below is the recipe.
Recipe to Make Homemade Yogurt
- Half gallon of milk (you can use whole, non-fat, or anything in between
- Starter Yogurt (I used Yoplait. I recommend this or Dannon. More on that below in my “failures” section)
Step 1: Pour milk into a stock pot. Put it on the stove and slowly heat it up to 180 degrees F. This will kill off all the bacteria in the milk.
Step 2: Allow the milk to cool to 110 degrees F. If you don’t have a thermometer, I read that this is the point you can put your finger in the milk for five seconds and it doesn’t burn. I just went out and bought a ten dollar thermometer.
Step 3: After the milk has cooled to 110 degrees F, add three tablespoons of starter yogurt and whisk into the milk. Make sure the milk has cooled, or you will kill off your starter bacteria (I know this because I did this!).
Step 4: Now we will allow the bacteria to incubate. Cover the stock pot with a lid and then wrap it in a towel. Put the stock pot in the oven. The bacteria like to have a warm, dark environment. I found with my oven that if I turned on the oven light, this was the perfect temperature. I read other people that have a “bread” setting (the guy who owned our house before us bought the cheapest over possible, so I do not have this setting), in which the oven can be set at 100 degree F, and this works well. However, the oven light worked fine for me.Step 5: Let the milk/yogurt mixture sit for ten to twelve hours. You may have to play around with this to find the right amount of time for you. The longer it sits, the tarter the yogurt will get.
Step 6: After ten to twelve hours, take the yogurt out of the oven. It should have thickened up at this point. Yay! If not, see failures below (yes, this has happened to me). The yogurt may have a thin skin on top. Take this off and throw it out (my dogs just told me that they’ll take it off your hands and eat it). You can chill the yogurt and eat as is. OR, if you like Greek yogurt, see the below steps.
Step 7: I love the consistency of Greek yogurt, so I strain the whey out of the yogurt. Put a cheesecloth in a colander. Then put the colander over another bowl (to catch the whey when it is strained out). Pour the yogurt into the colander. Put this in the fridge for a few hours (I usually leave it overnight). Afterwards, the whey will have strained out and now you have a thick creamy Greek yogurt! The whey can be used in protein shakes or put over dog’s food.
Step 8: Eat your delicious yogurt!
If the first time around the yogurt doesn’t turn out, give it another try. It took me three failures (and three pots of smelly milk) until I finally got it right. Here are some things I did wrong:
- The first time I added the starter yogurt before the yogurt cooled to 110 degrees F. Therefore, I killed off all the bacteria and had nothing to incubate and multiply. If you let the milk cool too much, the milk will not be warm enough for the bacteria. You do have to be pretty precise with the temperature of the milk. This was hard for me to get used to since I like to do about twenty things at once (and forget to watch the temperature of the yogurt)
- The second time I tried to make starter yogurt, I put the stock pot in the oven and turned my oven on to the “warm” setting. Apparently this was still too hot. I once again killed the bacteria (they don’t seem to stand a chance with me). This is when I read that turning on the oven light will give just enough heat. It seemed to work for me.
- The third time I tried to make yogurt I bought store brand yogurt to use as starter yogurt. The yogurt did not set. I’m not sure if it was due to the brand of yogurt I bought, but in my research I read that store brand yogurt doesn’t always have the freshest bacteria cultures. Therefore, they may not have been live enough to multiply. Since then, I have used either Dannon or Yoplait, and my yogurt has set. After you make your first batch of yogurt, you can just set some aside and use your own yogurt as the starter yogurt.
So there you go. How to make yogurt. Give it a shot! Give it a whirl and comment below with your success stories….or non-success. Trust me, with the amount of times I had to try to get it right, I can now answer a lot of questions!