I love fancy organic yogurt but I can’t stomach the price tag. $5 for a quart of yogurt is just pure craziness to me.
I’ve learned how to make my own yogurt at home for less than 1/3 of the cost of store-bough organic yogurt, and it is SO GOOD! Since there was a lot I had to learn before I made my first batch of homemade yogurt, I thought I would share the process to hopefully save y’all some time.
I use this Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker and while it isn’t the fanciest one of the market, it works great and is usually around $20 on Amazon. I really like that it has glass jars so I don’t have to worry about plastic compounds getting into the yogurt I am feeding to my little one. You can also check out this post from Money Saving Mom on how to make yogurt in your slow cooker.
What You Need
Here is a list of the equipment and ingredients you’ll need (in addition to the yogurt maker), which you likely already have hanging around your kitchen. You’ll need:
- a meat or candy thermometer
- a whisk
- a large pot
- a large measuring cup
- a medium bowl
- a source of yogurt cultures (a small container of store-bought yogurt works fine)
So making yogurt (at least the kind most of us are used to) is basically just introducing some yogurt cultures to milk and then holding the milk at a temperature that allows to cultures to grow and work their fermentation magic for a period of time. Depending on the type of milk you use, this is between 6 and 10 hours.
I make low-fat yogurt from 2% milk, but you can use skim, 1% or whole milk. My yogurt maker manual says you can also use soy milk, but it must be UHT (shelf -stable) and must contain either fructose, honey or malt.
For a source of yogurt cultures, the easiest method is to buy a single serving of your favorite kind of yogurt and use that to make a few batches of homemade yogurt. You should only use plain yogurt though, nothing flavored or sweetened.
I’ve read that different companies have different strains of yogurt-making bacteria that lead to different tastes and textures. I like the taste and texture of Stonyfield Farms yogurt so that’s what I have used. One 6 oz. cup of store-bought yogurt can be used to make one 49 oz. batch of yogurt and then one of those servings can be used to make another batch of yogurt. After that, the cultures are weakened and you have to start over with a new source of cultures from a store-bought yogurt. Some alternatives to this are using a freeze-dried yogurt starter or purchasing some heirloom cultures which can be reused indefinitely.
Making Your Yogurt
The first step in actually making the yogurt is to measure your milk into a large pot on the stove. My yogurt maker can make seven 7 oz. jars of yogurt at a time (49 oz. total) and I will add 6 oz. of store-bought yogurt to the batch so I poured about 43 oz. of milk into my pot. Then turn the burner on high and wait for the milk to start to gurgle and climb up the sides of the pot. For me this takes between 5 and 7 minutes, so I do something else while I am waiting.
Next move the pot off of the burner, place your thermometer in the pot and go about your business. The milk should be less than 100 degrees before you move on to the next step, and in my experience this takes between 30 – 45 minutes. You don’t want the milk so hot that it kills the bacteria that you are about to introduce.
Next, add your starter yogurt to a medium size bowl and pour a little of the cooled-down boiled milk into the bowl with it. Whisk them together until they are very smooth, then combine this mixture with the rest of the milk and stir to combine.
Next you need to transfer the mixture to the glass jars. I use my glass Pyrex measuring cup to fill the individual glass jars and that works fine for me. It is okay to fill them almost to the top as the yogurt doesn’t expand or anything as it “cooks”. At this point you can also add fruit or other flavorings to the yogurt. The manual provides some recipes and ideas.
Last thing is to put the jars into the yogurt maker without their lids, plug it up and wait. The manual isn’t totally clear about how long they should stay in there, but from what I can gather the recommended time is 6 hours for whole milk, 8 hours for 2% and 10 hours for skim milk.
While there is some down time while preparing the yogurt, it is really only about 10 minutes of active work time to make 7 servings of yogurt. To me it is worth the time and effort to have delicious, healthy yogurt we can eat throughout the week. I hope this helps you get started with making your own yogurt!