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!
Since then, I’ve made yogurt several times. My recent yogurt-making adventures have included the kids.
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)
Before you get started, you’ll want to gather your supplies and sterilize the tools you’ll be using to make the yogurt (you don’t want to introduce any other bacteria that might mess up your 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.
There are other ways to incubate yogurt that you can read about here.
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.)
Oh my goodness! Thank you for this post!!!
I love yogurt as a regular part of my diet, but allergies forced me to cut out corn syrup and preservatives, there were almost no options left for me to buy at the store. Learning to make it from scratch has been at the back of my mind for the past 2 years, whenever I got around to having the time and focus to do the research and experiment.
JUST TODAY I had randomly picked up a Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker for $12 at a garage sale! It did not come with instructions, so you just saved me hours of Googling! Coincidences are awesome!
thank you, nina. we go through a lot of yogurt, from chicken salad to mack & cheese to dressings. im looking forward to this on a trial basis 🙂
Great tutorial Nina. Thanks for mentioning me. Are guys traveling in your bus this summer? If so, I hope you can come visit us! Maybe we can make some frozen yogurt 🙂
I meant are you guys traveling in your bus?
I hope so! We’re hoping to visit you guys first – we just need to get this bus done. Soooooo close!
And yes, we must make some frozen yogurt!
I love being able to control what goes into my food and prefer a sweeter yogurt, so help me out with something … I know that honey is a natural antibacterial. I’ve heard that adding it can kill the cultures in the yogurt. Is there any truth to that?
A lot of people (including Alton Brown) add honey to the warm milk before fermentation, but I like to add it after. I think it can interfere with the fermentation process, although the yogurt still turns out fine. I’m guessing that even if the honey does kill some of the cultures, there are still enough left to do the trick.
Thanks Jenna 🙂
will this yogurt recipe work with goats milk?
Thanks for answering Jenna! The yogurt does have a different consistency than if you made it with sugar – my husband describes it as a little grainy.
I recently made yogurt and it’s very stringy and watery!!! Not sure if the yogurt starter was not fresh enough???