I was really intimidated about making yogurt for a long time. There were so many directions (and I am not good at following directions – I’m a free spirit, okay?).
But when I met my friend Jenna, who made yogurt, like, everyday, I decided to give it a try. She assured me that it really is easy and if I messed up, I could just use it in baking.
So I gave it a try. And it actually worked!
I love yogurt making as a school project, because it gives me an opportunity to teach the kids about:
- Good bacteria vs. harmful bacteria
- Where food comes from (it doesn’t get made in the grocery store)
- Using thermometers
- Sterilizing equipment
- Natural sweeteners vs. artificial sweeteners
There’s a lot you can learn just by making yogurt!
It also gives me an opportunity to practice patience. A lot.
How to make yogurt
(If you don’t eat dairy, check out how to make coconut milk yogurt)
For the process you’ll need:
- Stainless steel pot (you can use glass, too)
- Thermometer (it doesn’t have to be digital – just make sure you can read it well)
- Measuring cups
- Cooking spoon for stirring
- 2 quart-size canning jars with lids
- 1/2 gallon of milk (use the best you can afford – we just got a raw milk herd share again, so that’s what I’m using now)
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt with live cultures or a yogurt starter (after my initial batch, I just use yogurt I’ve made)
First, you’ll want to sterilize your tools. Fill your pot with water (enough to cover the two jars lying on their sides), then bring it to a boil. Put in the spoon, jars (on their sides) and clip the thermometer to the side of the pot so the probe side is in the water. Let them sit in their for 5 minutes, drain the water and let the sterilized equipment sit on a clean towel to dry off.
Now, pour your milk into the pot and put in the stove on medium high heat. Put your thermometer in the milk and heat it up to 180 degrees. Once it gets there, turn off the heat and move your pot to a cool part of the stove. It’s going to cool to 110 degrees (this takes about 20-30 minutes for me, so don’t feel like you have to sit and stare at the thermometer until it cools down).
Once it’s cooled, measure out 1/2 cup of plain yogurt with active cultures (I use an organic yogurt with only milk and cultures in the ingredients) into one of your jars. Add a spoonful or two of the cooled milk to the starter and mix them together. (It’s important to wait until it’s cooled so you don’t kill the bacteria.)
If you’re using a yogurt starter, follow the instructions on the packet.
Next, pour the milk/starter mixture into the pot and stir it all together. Pour the milk into the two quart jars and put on your lids.
Now you need it to incubate. It needs to do this for about 8 hours in a place that is warm, where it won’t get moved. You can do this a couple of ways:
- Put the jars in a small cooler (I use one like this), fill it with up to the bottoms of the lids with hot tap water, lock the lid in place, wrap it in a bath towel and let it sit somewhere warm and dark for 8 hours.
- Use a yogurt incubator (like this one). I prefer multi-purpose kitchen appliances, but this is worth the investment if you’ll be making yogurt regularly and have enough space to store it.
Once it’s incubated and set up, store the yogurt in the fridge and enjoy!
(If you’ve done all of the above and are having problems with your yogurt, check out my friend’s yogurt troubleshooting page for ideas.)
Honey-sweetened vanilla yogurt
Our kids are not fond of plain yogurt, try as I might to convince them it’s yummy. So we’ll sweeten their yogurt with honey. To save time mixing in the honey after the yogurt is made, I just make them some honey-sweetened vanilla yogurt:
After the milk has been heated to 180 degrees, pull it off of heat as you would above. Then add:
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract (buy it or make your own)
- 3-4 tbsp raw honey, depending on how sweet you like your yogurt (I use raw honey even if I’m heating it because I know there are no other additives, like corn syrup)
Stir it all up, wait for the milk to cool down, then proceed as you would to make plain yogurt.
Making my own yogurt is one of the many ways I save money on real food. If you’d like to save money on food, join the newsletter in the box below – I’ll be announcing a new group coaching class soon that will give you simple strategies for lowering your grocery budget.