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Make Your Own Yogurt!

Make Your Own Yogurt!

Yogurt is both delicious and nutritious. Not only is it creamy and tangy, yogurt also contains beneficial bacteria that can help your digestion and immune system function better. Because most people buy yogurt from the grocery store, it’s easy to forget that plain yogurt is just fermented milk. It is created by introducing live cultures, specifically Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles, and allowing them to change the chemistry of the milk. This process is easy and inexpensive to do right at home.

To make your own homemade yogurt, the only ingredients you’ll need are a half-gallon of milk and three tablespoons of plain “live culture” yogurt or freeze-dried yogurt starter culture. Live culture yogurts still contain the living organisms that caused the milk to ferment. Some commercial yogurt brands heat treat yogurt after production to kill these beneficial organisms. To find live culture yogurt, check the label of the brands at your grocery store — organic brands like Stonyfield Farm include live cultures — or buy some directly from a local dairy.

Other things you’ll need are a large stock pot (at least 8 quarts), a smaller pot (4-5 quarts) with a lid, a large metal spoon, a cooking thermometer with a clip, and a heating pad.

Before beginning, set aside the three tablespoons of yogurt or live culture, and allow it to come to room temperature. Set a heating pad to medium and place it on a clear spot on your kitchen counter.

Set the larger pot in the sink and place the smaller pot inside it. Fill the larger pot until water reaches about halfway up the side of the smaller pot. You’ll probably need to hold the smaller pot down to keep it from floating. Drop the cooking thermometer and spoon into the large pot of water, and turn the small pot upside down over the top of the larger pot. Bring the water in the large pot to a boil. This will sterilize your tools. Remove the spoon and thermometer, and set the smaller pot back inside the larger one.

Pour the half-gallon of milk into the small pot, and clip on the thermometer, making sure that the sensor reaches into the milk. Make certain that the milk in the small pot and the water in the large pot reach the same level for even heating. Add or remove water as needed. Heat the milk to 185° F, stirring frequently. The milk should begin to froth once it is near the correct temperature.This means the milk is ready to accept the live cultures.

Fill your kitchen sink with 3-4 inches of cold water. Once the milk reaches 185° F, plunge the pot into the cold water and cool the milk back down to 110° F. This is the temperature at which yogurt cultures thrive and reproduce. Immediately add the live culture yogurt or starter culture to the milk and stir it well to ensure that the cultures are incorporated evenly.

Cover the pot with a lid and a towel, place it on top on the waiting heating pad, and leave it to incubate for seven hours. If you don’t have a heating pad handy, there are other methods you can use to keep the yogurt warm. Some people use a crockpot or rice cooker, set on medium heat. Some put the pot inside the oven on low heat. It’s also possible to fill an airtight cooler with a few inches of warm water (the same depth as the milk in the pot) and set the pot into it. No matter which method you use, it is very important that the yogurt stay at about 110° F for a full seven hours. You’ll need to monitor the temperature throughout the incubation period.

After seven hours, remove the yogurt from the heat and stir it until the curds disappear. Don’t worry if the yogurt appears runny or greenish. That’s perfectly normal. It will thicken up and begin to look more like yogurt in the next step.

Pour the yogurt into sterile sealing containers, such as mason jars or plastic tubs, and chill it in the refrigerator overnight. This will thicken the yogurt and give it its trademark tart flavor. After that, you can flavor it with honey, fruit, or any other add-in you like (just be sure to set aside three tablespoons of plain yogurt to start your next batch), and enjoy!

16 comments

1 Jaime McLeod { 07.15.11 at 2:28 pm }

The process won’t change, but the thickness of your final product will. The lower the concentration of fat, the runnier your yogurt will be. Commercial yogurts add gelatin or guar gum to thicken their low-fat and nonfat yogurts.

2 Dawn { 07.15.11 at 2:23 pm }

I’m curious if the process changes depending on whether I’m going to use skim, 1%, 2% or homogonized milk?

3 Jaime McLeod { 07.13.11 at 9:34 pm }

A couple of weeks.

4 Traci Donahue { 07.13.11 at 8:09 pm }

How long does homemade yogurt keep in the fridge?

5 Dorothy { 07.13.11 at 4:35 pm }

For a great how to Step for Step Homemade yogurt Video you can go to http://WWW.makeyourownyogurt.com

6 Jaime McLeod { 07.13.11 at 3:39 pm }

The yogurt shouldn’t “turn green,” but the watery whey on top of the unfinished yogurt may, temporarily, appear to have a faint greenish tinge. This won’t always happen, but if it does it is, as noted above, perfectly normal. Once its been mixed thoroughly and refrigerated, it will appear white.

7 Ali { 07.13.11 at 3:35 pm }

I’ve made kefir to somewhat the same way….however, it has never turned green…..YOU DON’T WANT IT TO BE GREEN!

8 mary miller { 07.13.11 at 12:38 pm }

I have an easier recipe for yogurt that is really good. so I will give it to you , it’s a lot easier to make too.I live in ALBERTA , CANADA, and we have a yogurt named after it’s owners farm it’s called BLES-WOLD YOGURT.. Here goes; Bring 2 1/2 cups good quality milk to a full boil in a saucepan,then turn down the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Pour the scalded milk into a bowl ( use a strainer or cheesecloth if you have acquired any brown bits around the edge) and cool until you can hold your finger in the milk and count to 10. Place a heaping tablespoon of best quality plain yougurt in a small dish and add some of the milk to it to warm it up, then whisk it back into the milk. Pour into a glass jar (glass holds heat well), wrap in a towel or sweater and put it in a warm place, kitchen countertop works fine, you just need to avoid drafts, for about 6 hours, or overnight. In the morning put the jar in the fridge to chill and you’ll end up with a lovely jar of fresh yogurt.If you like, stir in a spoonful of honey maple syrup or sugar. ENJOY!!!!.

9 Jaime McLeod { 07.13.11 at 11:40 am }

That’s exactly right, Rauni.

10 Rauni { 07.13.11 at 9:55 am }

I’m confused by the sterilization step. Can you clarify the part of ” turn the small pot upside down over the top of the larger pot “. I’m assuming this means to balance it on top of teh big pot and let the steam sterilize it, but just want to make sure. thanks :)

11 Jaime McLeod { 07.13.11 at 9:42 am }

Hi Patsy,
Yes, that’s right. Straining out the excess moisture will result in a thicker, Greek-style yogurt.

12 Patsy Lavinia { 07.13.11 at 8:56 am }

I always purchase Greek yogurt. If I chose to make this recipe at home and want it Greek style, would I just strain the whole batch through cheesecloth? Thanks.

13 Kate { 07.12.11 at 4:36 pm }

I do it the easiest way possible-when I’m down to the last 2-3 tablespoons in the container (I have 2 32 oz ones) I heat milk to about 100 degrees and add it to the leftover yogurt and shake. In summer I can just leave it on the counter (no AC) and in winter I put it on top of the fridge (heat from the coils) for 12 hours. as long as it is between 80-110 degrees you will get yogurt.

14 diane trierweiler { 07.11.11 at 9:23 pm }

This is perfect. I’ve been wanting to make my own for some time and thought I’d need more equipment. My biggest reason for making it myself is it would ommit the plastic containers from coming home with me. I am so over plastic and disposable containers! Even if i am an avid recycler.

15 Jaime McLeod { 07.11.11 at 1:56 pm }

Hi Jane,
Benefits are in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. Yes, there is a significant cost savings. You save the difference in price between a half gallon of milk and a half gallon of yogurt (around here, milk is about 1/4 the cost of yogurt). Granted, you have to have a little store-bought yogurt on-hand for that first batch, but after that, it’s self-perpetuating. Beyond that, though, some people just prefer making things at home. You have control over the process and know exactly what’s gone into your food. Most store-bought yogurts contain a lot of chemical ingredients – preservatives, thickeners, high fructose corn syrup (or artificial sweeteners), coloring, and who knows what else. This way, you know you’re getting nothing but pure milk and a little live culture.

16 Jane Horton { 07.11.11 at 1:45 pm }

Though the technique for making the home-made yogurt doesn’t sound difficult, it would have to show me some major advantages before I ‘d want to go to soooo much bother to make this at home. Does it have a better flavor than store bought ? What is the advantage of making this at home? Cost maybe? Thanks for the recipe…

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