Homemade yogurt step-by-step

I realized yesterday morning that I was low on our homemade yogurt. This is never a big deal any more – I can even fit in making it before work. What used to be a project has become a very streamlined process. Try it! The first few times, of course it will take a while as you get used to it, but with practice, you’ll be making homemade yogurt for your family in no time!

Why do I bother making it myself? A few reasons:

1. Taste – can’t beat it. Truly.

2. I know what’s in it – as you’ll see, the ingredients are whatever milk you choose and a tiny bit of  your favorite plain yogurt from the store. No artificial sweeteners or flavoring, no sugar, no thickeners or stabilizers, gums or starches or Carmine. Ew.

3. Freshness – Go to the fridge and look at the date on your yogurt from the store. It could be dated a month in the future. Or it could say today’s date. That means that it could have spent the last month on the shelf in the store! How fresh is that!? The good bacteria culture in yogurt gradually decreases over time, so homemade provides the highest quality product.

4. Price – One quart of store-bought organic yogurt costs approximately $4/quart. One quart of homemade organic yogurt costs about $1.42 for the milk and $.27 for the 1/4 c yogurt, so $1.69/quart. Less than half price! I’m no dummy.

This is what I do to make 1 quart. To make 3 quarts at one time, triple the ingredients, use a larger saucepan for heating, and see picture at the end for incubating.

Gather equipment:

1 quart-sized Ball jar

1 large spoon

1 small whisk

1 food thermometer

1 measuring cup

1 salad bowl (for resting sterilized utensils in)

tongs (for removing hot jar from boiling water)

For best results, sterilize equipment by either pouring boiling water over them or by immersing them in a pot of boiling water. I used to skip this step, and my results were not consistent.

Gather ingredients:

1 quart milk

1/4 cup store-bought yogurt for starter (measured out in your cooled-off sterilized measuring cup)

You can use any kind of cow’s milk yogurt that you want. I’ve tried using almond milk, soy milk, and homemade seed milk with no success. I use Wegman’s 1 or 2% organic milk. I spoke with someone at Wegman’s corporate office and am comfortable with the information they gave me regarding their cows grazing on grass as well as their inspections and accountability regarding organic regulations.

I use Stonyfield plain yogurt because it’s organic and because of the 6 live active yogurt and probiotic cultures that are in it. I recommend that you use plain yogurt with LIVE bacteria in it. If it contains live bacteria, it will say so on the container. After opening and using 2 ounces of the 6 ounce container, I keep it in the coldest part of the fridge in a ziploc bag till next time.

The process:

Heat 1 quart milk in a saucepan on medium heat stirring occasionally. Bring to 180 degrees.

Remove from heat and float in a large bowl of cold water in the sink until thermometer registers between 100-110 degrees.

Pour about 1/2 cup of the cooled milk into the 1/4 cup yogurt in measuring cup. Whisk until fully blended.

Pour milk/yogurt mixture back into cooled milk in saucepan. Stir until fully incorporated.

Pour into sterilized Ball jar. Scrape off most of the bubbles from the surface of the milk. Mine looks like this.

Carefully place jar in electric yogurt maker, or…

…if you don’t have one, you could use a cooler lined with a heating pad. This is a peek into what I use when I make more than one jar at a time. These jars are incubating in my collapsible cooler, with a heating pad set on medium on the bottom, then the jars, then plastic wrap covering the jars and my thermometer poked through the wrap and suspended between the jars so I can keep an eye on the temp to make sure it stays between 100-110 degrees. I run the power cord out through the almost-fully-zippered lid. This method reliably keeps the temperature stable. It has successfully made many gallons of yogurt over the years.

You could also use 8 ounce Ball jars for individual servings. I prefer quarts because it’s less to wash, but 8 ounce cups would be great for individual servings for packed lunches.

With either method, I let them incubate for about 7 hours. This gives a nicely thickened yogurt that’s not too tart. Some people with lactose issues may want to incubate for up to 24 hours. By that time, the lactose should be pretty well dealt with.

When the 7 hours are up, carefully remove the jar, screw the lid on, and place in refrigerator until fully cooled. If you severely tilt or shake the jar, it will not set up as well.

I like this added to my green smoothie, or plain with a little stevia or pure maple syrup, or my favorite, with a little homemade granola sprinkled on top.

I guess I know what recipe I’ll have to share with you soon!

Enjoy! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

You may want to use your homemade yogurt for:

Facial masks

Maple vanilla frozen yogurt

Falafel with cucumber yogurt dressing

Ranch salad dressing

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