My family eats a LOT of yogurt. We really like the taste of the Stonyfield Farm organic whole milk yogurt with six live active cultures… but the containers are small (only four cups) and expensive ($3.59 each), and it seemed like I was always buying yogurt and we were always running out. Happily, I have found a recipe and a method that makes a yogurt my whole family thinks tastes even better than the purchased organic yogurt. Using organic hormone-free whole milk, I make up a half gallon of yogurt at a time, and even when milk isn’t on sale, I can make $7.18 worth of organic yogurt for only $2.15… that’s a savings of 70%. When organic milk IS on sale (as it is this week), the savings are even bigger.


Incubating at a constant 100°F

Here’s how I make this yogurt. I bring one quart of whole milk just to the boiling point using moderate heat. (This part is important because it ensures a smooth, even curd.) Then I cool the milk to 95°F to 110°F and remove any skin that has formed on top of the milk.

Next I measure out three tablespoons of plain whole milk yogurt (purchased organic yogurt or my own yogurt from a previous batch) into a large mixing bowl, whisking the yogurt until it liquifies. Then I whisk in the milk and mix well.

Now the milk and yogurt mixture needs to incubate. Yogurt will incubate successfully at temperatures between 85°F and 100°F, although the lower temperatures will take a longer time. Temperatures higher than 100°F will result in a yogurt that looks curdled with an uneven texture. I try to keep the yogurt mixture at a constant 100°F. I have found what works best for me is to keep the bowl of yogurt in a large pan of 100°F warm water… I frequently check the temperature with a candy thermometer and warm up the water when it cools. If you have a gas oven with a pilot light, that may keep a constant temperature of 100°F for you… or putting the bowl on a heating pad works, too. Just keep checking the temperature until you have found a method that will keep a constant temperature of 100°F.

After about four or five hours I start checking the consistency of the yogurt, although the entire incubation process will take longer than that. Most yogurt recipes specify seven hours and some even as much as eight to ten hours or more. I never let this yogurt incubate that long… perhaps because the whole milk makes a thicker yogurt more quickly. The yogurt is “ready” when it has a custard consistency, although at this point it may look slightly thinner than I want it to be. Oddly, more incubation time now will only keep fermenting the yogurt and adding to the “sour” taste that many people don’t like… additional incubation time after the yogurt has reached the custard stage will not make the yogurt firmer, so now is the time to stop the incubation by refrigerating the yogurt. The yogurt will become even firmer when it cools.

This homemade yogurt will keep in the refrigerator for about one week, but it’s always gone before then with our family, so it’s fortunate that I make a new batch of yogurt at least once a week. Of all the yogurt recipes I have tried, this one is by far my favorite. The yogurt is very thick and has a wonderful flavor, which I think comes from the organic whole milk.

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Comments

Philippa

Hi Shirley,
I also make my own yogurt regularly, and am amazed at the vast price difference ~ plus the convenience of always having yoghurt on hand!.

I incubate my milk and starter overnight in a cooler with warm water. This gives a constant temperature and I find it more convenient than the oven or stockpot methods.

By the way, my family loves your chocolate cake recipe!!

Julie

Instead of using a heat source, I just heat the milk, cool to 120F,add starter yogurt, pour in a thermos and set on the counter overnight. I drain it a bit in the morning and use the whey in baked goods. I always use non-fat or 1% organic milk and it comes out great.

If you let it drain a while it will get really thick like that pricey greek yogurt.

Antonietta

I tried making yogurt for the first time and I incubated it for about 10 hours. It seemed like yogurt but was softer than I wanted it to be and had a lot of separation from they whey. However, since it incubated for so long, I thought it would taste sour, instead it tastes very creamy. I even took some and squeezed out the whey with a cheesecloth and I got a very thick cream that tastes like ricotta and butter.

Now, where did I go wrong as far as getting the taste of yogurt? And is it still safe to eat?

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Antionetta, I have no idea why your yogurt would turn out like that… except it almost seems that the yogurt you used as your culture wasn’t “alive”. You should have the taste of yogurt if you have a good yogurt to start with and keep the proper temperatures. I don’t know about the safety of eating milk that has sat for ten hours without turning into yogurt. I am overly cautious about anything like this, so I don’t think I would eat it.

Ivonne

Hi!

i found this site with tips for yogurt making. I just bought a yogurt maker and I have tried making yogurt twice but somehow it comes out too liquid. I am using as a starter plain bought yogurt from the store with live cultures. I am following instructions to the letter. I am not sure what is going on. The machine has a timer and it is working right. I have left it once for 10 hrs and another time for 14 in hopes that maybe the consistency would change.

PS> I wait till the temperature is right before adding the two tablespoons of the starter yogurt and mix it first in a small amount of the meilk and once it is completly mixed I pour it with the rest of the milk (as instructed in the booklet)

Ivonne

Irene

Hi,
Love this site. I would like to respond to the yogurt makers with problems.

1) If you want thick yogurt more like the commercial variety, add non-fat dry milk powder to the milk. It gives more protein solids to the yogurt. I don’t remember exactly how much to add per quart of milk, but this information is easily obtained on the web.

2) The “sourness” or tang in the yogurt is related to the temperature and fermentation length. The culture will be WAY less tangy if given a short ferment at a low temp. Conversely if your yogurt is TOO tangy, give it a much shorter fermentation time. I have had the yogurt come out both ways, and I would suggest that the temperature was too low or the fermentation time too short. But I HAVE eaten yogurt which was sweet and creamy as described. Still alive and never got sick either. Perfectly fine.

3) If yogurt is disturbed or jiggled during fermentation it will not set properly – by that I mean that it won’t have that solid coagulation like you see in commercial yogurt. It will be thick and soupy instead. Again perfectly fine.

4) The type of milk used affects the texture of the final product. Skim milk produces the firmest yogurt, especially when nonfat dry milk is added. I think whole milk would account for much softer yogurt. In areas such as Greece and the Middle-East they use full fat milk AND add cream!

Been a while since I’ve made it! But I did enjoy it. Very tasty. I stopped because it was not cost effective for me as my local stores sell plain yogurt for cheap.

Hope this helps!
Irene

P.S. I would love to have your oatmeal bread recipe, if you wouldn’t mind sharing. :-)

MJS

If I leave my oven light on the oven maintains a perfect 100 degree F temp for incubation. My first batch I left for 10 hours (overnight) the consistency was perfect but very sour – how many hours should I incubate my next batch if I want it less sour. BTW I am making this not only for the family but for our 4 enormous dogs – it was costing a fortune so I thought I would give it a go myself. Thanks in advance! Love your site.

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

MJS, I always go by the consistency of the yogurt and not by the amount of time, but I usually have yogurt ready to be refrigerated within about six hours. It really depends on the temperature. I keep mine in warm water so the temperature fluctuates between water changes, but if yogurt is left too long it WILL taste sour and somewhat bitter. We make yogurt for our dogs too, only our dogs are tiny chihuahuas. :o)

Bill

Reply to Ivonne: there are a couple of things you can do to improve the yogurt you make:

– add some powdered, dry milk to the tune of 1/2 cup per quart and stir it in well before heating it to 190F.

– try another yogurt as culture and make sure it says that it has live active cultures in it.

– put the culture in a blender with some of the warm milk and blend it for 10 seconds. This makes sure the culture is distributed well. And make sure you stir the blended culture well into the rest of the warm milk – I use a whisk.

Make sure your thermometer is working right – test it with boiling water and ice water. If it is off by more than a degree or so, then get another one that is right.

Good luck,

Bill

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

It is entirely possible to make a very thick yogurt without adding powdered milk. I have concerns about this product so I do not use it, but I consistently am able to make a very thick yogurt following the procedure I describe above. Temperatures used and length of incubation time are what determine the thickness.

Fur

I have been making yogurt for about a year now. Saves a lot of money! I too end up with about a cup to 2 cups of liquid whey per half gallon, and I’m not sure why. I use 2% organic milk with a couple of tbs. full cream greek yogurt. I would like less whey.

Maria

Hi, I wanted to respond to all those who think their yogurt is too thin. From the research that I did when I first started making yogurt I found that it is fairly typical for yogurt to be watery from the whey. You can thicken it up by straining it through cheese cloth into a bowl for a few hours. Keep track of it and strain it until it gets to the consistency you prefer. You can use the whey for baking etc. or you can feed it to your dogs. By the way, I am going to try your method of making yogurt Shirley. Mine is never quite sour enough. I incubate it for up to 14 hours but I have never brought it to a boil. Bill I never thought about using a blender to make sure the milk and yogurt are fully blended. Great idea!!

Maria

Shirley I made a batch of yogurt using your recipe and I have to say that it was definitely an improvement. The consistency was more like I prefer. I did still have to strain it but I only wound up straining the last bit of yogurt instead of the entire batch. The taste was more sour then my previous batches, however, I would like it even more sour. After I brought the whole milk to a boil and then cooled it down to 110 degrees I placed the yogurt into an incubator for 8 hours. I removed the yogurt, strained and refrigerated it. Can anyone tell me what I need to do to get my yogurt more sour tasting? By the way, I say that I like the yogurt really sour but what I actually do is add splenda to my “Brown Cow” brand store bought yogurt. If I didn’t I would find this yogurt too sour for my taste. But with the added Splenda it has a tangy flavor and I just love it.

duncan

This is nearly the simplest process I have seen published, but it can be made simpler, as I explain below. I believe to be a sustainable practice, it must be simple and quick.

I am a great fan of Albert Enstein’s , “things should be as simple as they can be but not simpler”

I have been making yoghurt for about three years, since being inspired by a Kenyan’s story about his grandfathers yoghurt plant; a earthenware jar in the corner of his hut on the slopes of Mt Kiliminjaro. He ran a small mob of milking sheep which ate the weeds he pulled from his beans, corn and bananas. What he did not drink he threw in the yoghurt jar.

I now use a “Esiyo” yoghurt maker $20 from Kmart Aust.
It is a 1 liter polythene flask that fits into a larger 2L insulated container that contains a body of boiling water 2L. I half fill the flask with cold tap water, as a teaspoon of yoghurt, shake, fill the rest with powdered milk of choice, mix by placing a fork through the powder, stirring from the bottom side till dissolved, shake again until all lumps dissolve, top up with water, shake again and place in the insulated jar.

This jar works much better than earlier jars as the volume of boiling water is sufficient to bring tap water to optimum fermentation temperature.Takes 6 hrs in the tropics, 8 hrs in temperate climates. All sorts of variations are possible depending on taste and nutritional requirements; from using full cream powder, organic full cream whole milk instead of water, even adding cream.

I use skim to keep my calorie budget balanced, as a vegetarian I use it with oats in the morning, with kebabs for lunch and often as a yoghurt drink before dinner and also added in the last minute of cooking curries.

I cannot recommend the yoghurt drink highly enough; it is an ideal balance to inflammatory foods such as carbohydrates and sugars, for sufferers of digestive disorders. It is a snack in its own right, killing hunger pangs immediately. It can be made less bitter by adding Stevia and if you want variation from the natural lemon flavour add vanilla essence or fruit flavouring.

This is all stuff the peddlers of toxic beverages such as alcohol and soft drinks don’t want us to know. They have no interest in our health or longevity.

cheers Duncan

Matt

using dehydrated (powdered) milk makes this much more economical and easy. You simply boil water alone. Add some boiling water to blender with 1.5 cup non-instant powdered milk per quart of water, and blend smooth. Then put in incubating container and cool in water pan to 110F. Stir in starter and incubate for desired period of time.

vivian hart

We lived in Beirut, Lebanon for 16 years and I learned by watching and listening to my Arab cooks about making yogurt. They boiled the milk, set it aside while they mixed a yogurt started with a bit of the hot milk. The way they tested the temp of the milk, which determined if it was ready to mix in the starter with the hot milk, is when they placed their clean finger in the hot milk and if they could count to 10 without it burning the clean finger,(might do this 4-5 times) then the milk was ready to stir in the starter. Strange?? No, because that’s the way I have done it ever since(35 years).
Next, they put a plate on top of the bowl, wrapped the warmed bowl of milk with a shawl or towel and put it in the sun for 5 hours. I put mine on the hot water heater. Works every time.
Happy yogurting the Arab way.