Friday, April 13, 2012

Homemade Yogurt

Image Source: Rebecca Bent
   In my efforts to provide nutritious foods for my family I have started making a lot of things homemade. I know what ingredients are put into each thing and I can avoid a lot of extra questionable things. One example of nutrition can be found in yogurt.  Most of us know that yogurt is full of 'good bacteria' that aid in digestion and give our immune system a boost. Those 'good bacteria' are also good for people who suffer from a lactose sensitivity, like my youngest. I could write a whole post on the health benefits of yogurt, but I am going to leave a link and you can fill your brains with more yogurt knowledge when you have an extra minute.  
     Most of us also know that store bought yogurt can get expensive over time, especially the little 6oz containers. My family eats yogurt in bulk. My youngest daughter is on the 'picky eaters diet' and typically only eats yogurt and bananas, though she has become a little more adventurous here lately, thank goodness. :) So between my three kids a 32oz container of yogurt only last 2-3 days. At $3.00 a container the cost starts to add up. x2 32oz containers a week is $6.00 x4 = $24 a month :/. That's a half a tank of fuel or so and with the price of fuel so outrageous any spare penny can defiantly be used there. Now these price comparisons are for the cheap store brands. More specialty yogurts come with a heavier price tag. When making my yogurt I purchase the store brand milk because its cheapest though I am sure to check to make sure it has not been treated with hormones. As I am able to increase my food budget the first thing is to buy organic milk.

Anyways, Lets break down the cost of homemade yogurt using the cheap milk. I buy milk for $2.57 a gallon. That's potentially 128 oz of yogurt. That would be $12 if I got it at the store! The amount of milk you use is how much yogurt you get. I typically make a gallon of yogurt because I strain the whey from mine to make it thicker and more like Greek yogurt. In doing so it reduces the amount by about half. But that is still 50% cheaper than buying it... plus Greek yogurt is way more expensive to buy. So now that you've seen a little run down on price how about we visit the process. Here are the things you will need to make your own:

Milk- in whatever quantity you want in yogurt 32oz = 32oz un-strained yogurt
Starter at room temp-( 2-3 tablespoons of plain store bought yogurt with live and active cultures( easier to get) OR frozen Yogurt cultures,( I have yet to find this, but others say it does exist.)
Thermometer-( that goes to 185*)
1 pot for direct heating or crock pot and lid with either or-( 2 pots if you prefer the double boiler method)
Preferred heating method( some use crock pot, I use my stove)
Heavy towel
Cheese cloth or other very thin cloth( optional ) 
Storing container

Now the steps:

1. Sterilize equipment in boiling water 
    Truth be told, I never do this and I have never had any ill effect. Heating the milk to 185* kills the bad bugs anyways. 

2. Using your preferred heating method, heat the milk low and slow( so not to scorch) to 185*. I just put the milk in the pot and the pot on the stove. For as much yogurt as I make the crock or double boil methods are not big enough. 

3. Now allow the milk to cool to 110*. This can be done sitting on the counter ( takes about 45 mins) or can be done quickly with a sink of icy water. Just submerge about half of the pot into the water and watch the temp closely.( Dont let water get into the milk!)  If it gets too cold just warm it back up to 110*

4. When the milk reaches 110* whisk the starter in.

5. Place the pot in a warm place( I have a warming zone on my stove) and put a lid on it as well as the heavy towel.  A heating pad on low works as well. The temp needs to stay 110-115* for the next 7 hours at least. You can culture longer for a more tart taste. Ive read instances of 24 hour yogurt! Once an hour I set my warming zone on low for 10 mins. I just set a timer to remind me. Take the temp ever so often, but dont disturb it too much. This stage does take a little bit of babysitting, but after a couple batches you'll start to learn how well your pot or whatever insulates. At the end of 7ish hours you will have a very nice yogurt. I would start with 7 hours until you determine your taste. You could eat it warm now, but it will be a bit thinner than you'd expect. Chilling over night will produce a thicker yogurt. Or you could go a step further and strain the whey and make a very thick and yummy Greek style yogurt.

6. Strain the whey ( optional ). Line a colander with the cheese cloth and place the colander over a bowl or pot the will hold it but not let it fall down inside. Pour the yogurt into the cheese cloth lined colander and wait. I do mine about an hour, but you can stain as little or as much as you want to. 

7. Store- From staining, spoon your yogurt into a container of your choice that has a lid. Lots of people use mason jars for example. I use 32oz containers from previously buying yogurt that I happen to have still. If you did not strain your yogurt just give it a final good whisk and pour into your container(s). Place the yogurt in the fridge. I believe other who say it keeps only about a week, however ours never last that long. :) At this point the sky is the limit to what you can add to it!  Jam, honey, granola, fresh fruit... Etc.!!!! 

Now remember to save a couple tablespoons for your next batch.

There ya have it. If any part is unclear just shoot me a message and I will do my best to clear it up. Happy Yogurting :)


  1. Hi there,
    I've been looking for a homemade yogurt recipe and I think this is it! Thank you! :)
    I found your blog via the Modest Mom link-up, and I am your newest follower. I look forward to getting to know you better. I'd love for you to stop by and "visit" me sometime.
    Many blessings,

    1. Lisa, I just saw this comment. Sorry it took me so long. Did you make yogurt? I will defiantly stop by and "visit". I hope you can continue to visit me as well. I know this blog is very new, but each follower is growth. :) Thanks!