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 60 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:
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.
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’d 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.
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 too 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.
And now the fun part!
The Basics of Making Homemade Yogurt
1/2 gallon cow or goat milk
6 ounces yogurt starter or purchased starter culture
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
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.
Now, using a funnel 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
Set your electric roaster to about 140-degrees F and fill with about 1 inch of water.
After you remove from the stove, pour milk and 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.
Again, let it sit at least 5 hours.
I just tried homemade yogurt like this for the first time and after about 10 hours it was done. I did it overnight.
Also, my roaster’s lowest temperature indicator is 150 so I just set it slightly below that.
Pour your milk and starter 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.
I haven’t tried this but a reader mentioned it so I thought I’d pass it along.
Have you ever made homemade yogurt?