Nearly $17 of my budget last month went to yogurt. That’s more yogurt in one month than we bought all year!
(“We”… as if I can share the blame. Do you see anyone else confessing their crumbs? Who am I kidding?!)
Once I did the math, making my own yogurt became number one on the to-do list after the grocery budget reset.
I read lots of sites and reviewed lots of different methods. Making yogurt is like making almond milk – it begs the question, “You mean, you can MAKE your own?”
Sure it can be done, but is it easy? Because if it’s not easy, I don’t want to do it. I want (and need) the simplest version available. Give me homemade yogurt for dummies.
How to Make Homemade Yogurt
My first choice was Katie from Kitchen Stewardship. Her instructions are super easy and given her experience in the kitchen, I had no doubt the recipe would work. But there was one big problem – I don’t have a large cooler for the yogurt to “cook” in. There was also another small hiccup…
The whole jar-in-a-pot-of-water thing.
Call me chicken, because I am, but sticking a filled – and open – jar of ANYTHING in big pot of boiling water really scares me.
The pictures show yogurt. My brain sees expensive organic milk spilling over from my jars into the water. OBVIOUSLY it can be done correctly, but I’m skeptical of my own yogurt-making skills… especially since they’re non-existent.
Scratch it off the list.
My second choice was Aimee from Simple Bites. Her yogurt 101 is also super easy and the cooking method was unbeatable – a heating pad! How can you screw up a heating pad? You can’t!
That is my kind of yogurt. Sign.Me.Up.
In full disclosure, there is a super-easy slow-cooker method, but I heard it comes out runny. Me no likey runny yogurt, but if you like runny yogurt, give it a whirl!
There may be a old wives tale saying milk cools at a rate of one degree per minute. This could be a byproduct of my imagination, but with “exercise” on my to-do list, I had something to keep me busy. You know, the typical day of a stay-at-home-mom – multi-task-mania. And as it turns out, the cooling rate is somewhat accurate too!
Yogurt is kinda sneaky. You can do everything right, but you won’t know it until 8 hours later. You can make one tiny little mistake, and you still won’t know it until 8 hours later.
Making yogurt is a leap of faith.
But the heating pad is a safety net.
Afraid to take make the jump? Feel free to try a yogurt starter kit from Cultures from Health instead. If you’re feeling adventurous, grab your pad and follow along! I’ve included approximate times too, so you do something fun while the milk is cooling, like laundry or sweating. 😉
- 1 quart whole milk
- 2 Tbsp (approximately) plain yogurt with active cultures, room temperature
- In a medium saucepan, heat milk 180 degrees, stirring occasionally (about 15 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool to no warmer than 115 degrees (about 70 minutes).
- Place the yogurt in a small mixing bowl and add ½ cup or so of the cooled milk. Whisk to blend well.
- Add the yogurt mixture to the remainder of the milk and whisk to blend thoroughly.
- Pour the milk to a clean quart-sized jar (or several smaller sized jars). Screw on the lid and place on a heating pad set to "low." Wrap a towel around the jar and cover it with a large inverted soup pot.
- Allow to incubate for up to 24 hours, but at least 8 hours.
Homemade Yogurt Process
Here are some photos for those who are visual learners.
Heating pad set up on the counter. I took a bath towel, folded in lengthwise (hot dog) and placed one end on the counter. The heating pad is plugged in and on low, folded on top of the towel. I don’t know if the heating pad could burn the counter tops, but since we’re renting, I didn’t want to risk it.
My three jars on the heating pad filled with cooled milk/yogurt.
You can’t see it well in this picture, but I folded the towel over the jars first, then covered them with the pot. The term “incubate” from the recipe made me think “warm” and I thought another layer of towel would help the process.
Towel wrapped over inverted pot.
Ta da! The final product, 8 hours later! As you can see, the yogurt is really thick. I scooped some out and the yogurt didn’t fill in the hole – and this was right after incubation. It firmed up even more after refrigeration!
Additional Recipe Tips
- Lactose intolerant? Allowing the yogurt to culture for a full 24 hours removes nearly all of the lactose in the yogurt. No one in my house has lactose allergies, but I gave a quart to a friend and neither her nor her husband experienced any allergy symptoms – and they are both lactose intolerant!
- Want a thicker yogurt? You can make your own Greek yogurt at home with this method. BONUS: since that strainer is stainless steel, you can use it to strain kefir too!
- Read my extensive write-up on homemade yogurt at Kitchen Stewardship, and more about traditional dairy in the Dairy: A Factual Udder-Taking series HERE.