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Making Homemade Yogurt

Methods for Making Homemade Yogurt

Homemade yogurt was the first traditional real food I ever made.  It seemed easy to do and didn’t need any special equipment or tools.

I didn’t even buy a special yogurt starter culture.

Since March or April 2010 I’ve made probably 100 batches of yogurt a half-gallon at a time.  I’ve only had one batch that did not culture. That’s a 99% success rate – not too bad.

Before I share techniques here are a few notes of mention:

Temperature

In order for yogurt your yogurt culture to grow it needs temperatures between 110 & 115-degrees.

There are few different thoughts on heating your milk.  If your goal is to make raw milk yogurt you may not want to heat your milk past the 110-115 needed for the culture to grow.

Others recommend heating your milk to 175 and holding it there about 10 minutes before letting it cool to growing temperature.  Doing this to raw milk will most likely kill the enzymes however the milk is still not a superheated, denatured product like pasteurized and homogenized milk.

Starter Culture

I have never bought a actual “starter” culture although I know you can.  I just used some store bought plain or vanilla yogurt to get started.  Then, before I ran out of yogurt,I use the last of my batch as starter for the new batch.

It’s good to let your starter come to room temperature before adding to the milk so that it doesn’t cool down the milk too much.

Sweetener

I do not add sweetener of any kind to my batch or my finished product.  Any sweetener is added only when we are ready to eat it. Mostly, we use maple syrup to sweeten our yogurt sundaes.

Types of Milk

It has been my experience that whole pasteurized and homogenized milk makes thicker yogurt than raw milk.  I don’t know why that is.  I know the higher the fat content the thicker the yogurt will be.  Goat milk, for example, makes a thicker yogurt than cow milk.

Time to Culture

Your culture can take as little as 5 hours or as many as 24 hours to culture.  I leave my sit between 8 to 10 hours making it before I go to bed or before I head to work when I was a working mama.

And now the fun part!

The Basics of Making Homemade Yogurt

1/2 gallon cow or goat milk (raw or pasteurized)

6 ounces yogurt starter at room temperature or purchased starter culture

food thermometer

Heat milk to 110-degrees F.  Remove from heat and add starter culture stirring thoroughly.

Next, pick the method that works best for you:

Methods for Making Homemade Yogurt

Pot and Pan Method

yogurt culturing

Plug in a heating pad on high and place on a towel on a flat surface.  Cover with another towel.  Now, with a lid on your pot, place pot with warm milk and culture on the heating pad and cover with another towel.

Yogurt culture does not like to be disturb or shaken as it grows so do your best to let it be at least 5 hours.  Then, feel free to check it out for thickness and sourness.

Next, use a funnel to fill your jar or jars with yogurt and refrigerate immediately. Allow yogurt to remain undisturbed for a few hours before enjoying.  I used a half gallon jar and a canning funnel which made it really easy.

This is the method I used for the first two years I made yogurt and I had only one batch not culture.

Electric Roaster Method

homemade yogurt roaster method

Set your electric roaster to about 140-degrees F and fill with about 1 inch of water.  My roaster’s lowest temperature indicator is 150 so I just set it slightly below that.

After you remove from the stove, pour milk/starter mixture into quart mason jars (or old glass jars with lids) and place in the roaster.

Cover but leave the lid of the roaster slightly ajar. Culture at least 5 hours.

Once the culture is set, refrigerate undisturbed for a few hours.

Cooler Method

Pour your milk/yogurt mixture into jars as with the roaster method but sit them inside a cooler.  Place a warmed towel around them and close the lid.  Any insulated cooler with a lid would do.

Let it sit overnight and you’ll have yogurt.  Once the culture is set, refrigerate undisturbed for a few hours.

I haven’t tried this but a reader mentioned it so I thought I’d pass it along.

Bonus Method – Food Dehydrator – Update 5/2014

If you have a box-style food dehydrator you can use that to culture your yogurt as well. Remove all the trays from your dehydrator and set to 110-degrees.  Pour your milk/starter mixture into jars and place them staggered in your dehydrator.  Close the dehydrator door or put the door in place and let your culture go about 8 hours.

Once the culture is set, refrigerate undisturbed for a few hours.

This is the method I’ve been using since July and I’m getting consistent results.

How Do I Know My Yogurt Is Cultured?

If you’re using a jar-cultured method (anything but the Pot Method) you can check to see if your yogurt is set by tilting the jar.  The yogurt should stay in one mass and slide away from the side of the jar slightly.  If it’s still liquid or separates, culture it a bit longer.

Have you ever made homemade yogurt?

 

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Comments

  1. Hello,
    I’ve made today twice. The first time I used a tedious recipe. The today didn’t set well in some jars and I didn’t do yogurt again till I found a easy recipe where I just culture it in the crackpot and let it sit overnite and put in jars the next day. It turned our really well, thick and really yummy. I think I’m gonna stick with this recipe because its so simple and easy, but I’m going to take your advice and not warm milk in crockpot paste 110 degrees. (Recipe is on my Pinterest page of interested). I do have a question for the roaster method, do you heat the milk on the stove and pour the milk in the

  2. Must’ve pressed the send button before I was finished. So to continue, do you warm the milk on the stove with culture before adding to the jars in roaster? I didn’t see that part written, or do you just put unwarmed milk in the jars in the roaster? This is similar to the first recipe I used, but a warmed oven was used instead of a roaster and new seals were used so the jars sealed while in oven. It was gyogurtreat having sealed jars since its just two of us hear, so the yogurt wouldn’t go bad. That leads me to another question. Do you know how long unsealed jars of yogurt last in the fridge? This is my first time using a recipe with unsealed jars and I don’t want them going bad if I don’t get em ate in time. Do you know if yogurt freezes well? Not sure if it’d freeze well like sour cream or if it’ll get watery and change texture.
    Ok, thank you, I think that’s all.
    Have a blessed day 😉
    Oh, one more thing. Do you have any good frozen yogurt recipes? I have an indoor electric, no ice needed ice cream maker and want a good frozen yogurt recipe. I guess I could check the recipe book, but wanted to have some options.
    Thanks again. 😉

    • Love your questions Karen!!

      Yes, I still warmed the milk stove top to about 110, then added culture and put in jars.

      My 1/2 gallon only lasts me about a week because we eat so much of it. I have had it as long as two weeks though.

      The only time I froze yogurt is when I made homemade yogurt pops for Wyatt lat summer.

  3. Hello,
    I just checked the jars in the fridge and all of them seem that they have sealed without being in oven, except one. I opened the one that had a springy seal and it is so yummy. I had to holds myself back from eating the entire jar.

    • Using the electric roaster, two of my jars sealed too. I don’t know if I’d consider it a thorough seal but it good enough to keep it fresher a bit longer I suppose. I’d like to test this theory but we’re already through a quart jar in just 24-hours! I doubt the other two will last the weekend at this rate.

      🙂

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