Homemade Yogurt

I don’t remember exactly how long I have been making yogurt… but it’s been a couple of years now I think. We go through so much yogurt in our household each week that this is a really good way for me to save money for my family! Like with bread, this is something healthy & delicious I can make easily & economically from scratch as a way to bless my family. Recently, some dear friends of mine were asking how to make yogurt, and I thought it was a good opportunity to document it in pics and writing, rather than just in a spoken method. 🙂

Plain Easy Yogurt

Begin with a gallon of milk. I don’t buy organic, raw, or anything special.
I buy straight-up common milk (usually 2%) in a jug at the grocery store. That’s what makes this so economical:
I get 4 quarts of yogurt for about $2.80

To start, dump the entire gallon of milk in a large pot.
Stick a candy thermometer in there to monitor the temperature for you.
With the stove on med-high, heat the milk to roughly 185*F.

yogurt 3

Stir it around occasionally (using the thermometer), but try not to scrape the bottom of the pot
because you will scrape around bits of milk that adhere to the pot during the heating process
which makes the end result of yogurt grainy.
But I do sometimes scoop off the film that forms on top of the milk, and toss it in the sink.
Generally speaking, I make yogurt in the morning while I’m feeding the kids breakfast,
doing Bible with them, and washing dishes; it’s very easy in that way
to simply stay nearby and keep my eye on things.
(But that’s not to say I’ve never lost track and let it boil over all. over. the. stove.)

yogurt 1

I don’t do anything special to prepare my jars.
I figure they have been sterilized well enough in the dishwasher…
so I simply line up my wide-mouth quart jars on the counter
along with screw on plastic lids (although you’ll see in these pics I used a metal rim on one).

You’ll also notice that on this particular day, I was making more than a gallon
so I have six quart jars lined up.
It just means that I adjusted proportions so my milk to yogurt ratio
was still appropriate.

yogurt 2

Once the milk reaches roughly 185*F, turn off the stove and remove the pot from the heat.
Now is the part that sometimes makes me impatient. 🙂
Wait for the milk to cool down to 120*F.
This waiting usually gives me ample time to do other housework,
homeschooling, or kitchen projects… I’ve never timed it though!

Upon reaching 120*F, once again lift the film off the top of the warm milk and toss it.
This is the point where you need yogurt starter: 8oz (a cup) of a previous batch.
When I made my first batch of yogurt, I used a single serving cup
of vanilla Tillamook yogurt.
I just wanted to use one that was as natural as possible
that was clearly labeled as having live active cultures.

Just dump your yogurt started into the warm milk and whisk it around,
without scraping the sides or bottom of the pot
(again, to avoid a grainy end result).

yogurt 4

Now you need to pour the yogurt-milk into the jars.
I have a steady enough arm to couple with a pot that doesn’t drip when I pour from it,
so I do not use any kind of funnel.
But you just figure out what works for you
to get it poured nicely into the jars.
Don’t cry over spilled milk! 😉

yogurt 5

Screw the lids on nice and tight.
You can see here that you don’t have to fill the jars to an exact science.
The one with the metal rim isn’t quite as full as the others.
It did just fine though.

yogurt 6

There is something so thrilling about jars full to the brim
of something delicious.
I feel this way about jam and pickles too.
Glass jars make me so happy!

yogurt 7

This is the fun part. 🙂
Put your jars in a cooler,
and run water from your tap until it reaches 120*F…

yogurt 8

…and then let the warm water fill the cooler
until it’s at least halfway up the sides of the jars.
It’s okay if it gets on top of the jars, too.
Sometimes I have a pint in there with some of the quarts,
so the water basically goes to the very top of the pint.

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Now while you let those happy little yogurt bugs take dominion
and reproduce in the warm milk,
just leave the cooler closed and left alone for at least 6 hours.
Go about your day!

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After 6 hours or so (I promise, it’s very flexible!),
take the jars out of the cooler,
dry them off,
empty the cooler,
dry it out…

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…and put the jars in the fridge.
By the next morning, it will all be solidified
and beautifully tangy & creamy.

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We eat it plain!
We eat it with a drizzle of honey!
We eat it with a dollop of homemade jam!

Here or there, on a train and in the rain, on a boat and with a goat…
we do so like our homemade yogurt, we would eat it anywhere!
We love it, and hope you do too.

5 Replies to “Homemade Yogurt”

  1. This reminds me of my childhood in so many ways. We did ours with goats’ milk as that’s what we had on hand but the method is pretty much the same. I’ve also heard about doing it in a crockpot (haven’t tried it).
    Have you heard of Kombucha or kefir? I’ve made milk and also water kefir before but now I’m diving into a new project: Kombucha. Will tell you more about it soon over an email 🙂

  2. Samantha, I would love for you to share about that!! I haven’t made it myself, but I have had kombucha I bought at the store. It’s not my favorite… I liked one okay, and the other took some major gulping to choke down. I’ve never had kefir, but would love to. Just because I have heard so much about those two things, but don’t know much about them. People tell me, due to my immune issues though, that I ought to be trying them. Do write and tell me your thoughts sometime! And I did try yogurt in the crockpot once, and in the oven once; didn’t like either method very well, so I’ve stuck with the stove/cooler method. 🙂

  3. Hey 🙂

    I’ll tell you more about it in an email and maybe even do a bit of a tutorial if you’d like 🙂 I’m a newbie when it comes to the kombucha…. first batch is brewing on top of the fridge right now. What brands have you tried? My favorite is definitely Humm. Favorite flavors are strawberry lemonade, pomegranate lemonade and coconut lime. https://hummkombucha.com/
    Milk Kefir is really simple and easy; even easier than yogurt, IMO. We used to make it all the time and use it in pancakes instead of regular milk. I have a recipe for that too. 🙂
    As far as water kefir goes, it seems to be a little more fickle. I had some success with it and then I somehow ‘killed’ my grains, I think. I need to try and reactivate them again. The kefir seemed a little too sweet for me- I prefer something with a little more tang. I never really got mine to fizz all that much either. My favorite brand of water kefir is definitely Kevita. I like the Acai flavors, Citrus flavors and berry flavors in general. I’d buy it more often if it was less costly.
    I really think that having the kefir and or Kombucha just twice a week has definitely improved my digestive and immune system. I don’t need to take enzymes anymore! 😀

  4. Oh I am so glad you shared this! I am totally going to try it. I have made yogurt in the crock pot before, but had a hard time with it being too runny. So I only have a couple of yogurt eaters so would make much less…hoe long would you say it would last in the fridge?

    Thank you, dear Melissa!

  5. Well… we never have it last more than about ten days, maximum… usually I have to make roughly a gallon a week, which is why I have started making six quarts at a time recently! But I don’t see why it would not last 2 or 3 weeks, if necessary. It’s never seemed to have trouble for me personally. There was ONE time where the lid of one of my quarts started to have a little mold in it, when I finally unscrewed it – but I can not recall how long it had been in the fridge, and do not know if there were other surrounding circumstances that would have made the mold occur. It’s only happened that one time…
    But you could easily make just one or two quarts at a time, using a smaller proportion (but same ratio) of milk/yogurt starter, and using a smaller cooler also. It would be a faster process prior to culturing in the cooler, too, I’m sure, because heating/cooling one or two quarts of milk wouldn’t take as long as it takes me to do six quarts. 🙂

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