Homemade Yogurt

20 Jun

I’ve always been curious about making yogurt, so I decided to try it as well as making some goat cheese. I bought some starter from Cultures for Health. Of the two experiments, the goat cheese was about 100 times easier than the yogurt. Yogurt is more particular than cheese about maintaining a pretty warm temperature (110F), but not going too high, either. I don’t have a low enough setting on my oven, no crock pot or yogurt maker, and since it was still kind of cool spring weather, insulating it at room temp wasn’t quite enough.

So it was a little frustrating. It took forever to set up (days) and then forever to drain (again, days), and it still wasn’t quite the greek yogurt consistency I was looking for. The taste was pretty good though (I used organic milk from Whole Foods and bulked it up with some dried milk per instructions). I think I’ll continue to make goat cheese, but unless I come across something to help me easily maintain the required temperature, I’ll skip the yogurt in the future.

Supplies for Making Greek Yogurt:

  • Greek Yogurt Starter or some Greek Yogurt from the store (plain, unsweetened)
  • Milk
  • Container for Culturing the Yogurt (glass canning jars work well)
  • Cover for the Container
  • Wooden or Plastic Spoon
  • Heating Method for Culturing the Yogurt, options include:
    • Yogurt Maker
    • Oven that can be set to 110 degrees (sometimes just turning the light on is enough, but be sure to double check the actual temperature)
    • Cube-shaped dehydrator (e.g. Excalibur, TSM or similar model)
    • Crock pot or slow cooker (double check that it’s not getting to warm!)
    • Cooler with warm water bottles and towels
    • Any appliance or method whereby the yogurt can be cultured at 110 degrees for 5-12 hours
  • Method for Straining Yogurt (if desired, to yield the thick consistency similar to store brands of Greek yogurt)
    • Tea towel
    • Multi-layered fine-weave cheese cloth or butter muslin
    • Paper coffee filter
    • Cotton bag
    • Jelly bag
    • Yogurt cheese maker

Making Greek Yogurt:

  • Heat one cup or more of milk to 160 degrees.  Allow the milk to cool to 110 degrees.
  • For each cup of milk, mix in 1.5 – 2 teaspoons of Greek yogurt from a previous batch in a glass or plastic container.  Add ½ of the cooled milk to the starter and mix well.
  • Add the second half of the cooled milk to the mixture and mix well.
  • Cover the yogurt and incubate at 110 degrees for 5-7 hours.
  • Once the yogurt is set (when the jar is tipped, the yogurt shouldn’t run up the side of the jar and should move away from the side of the jar as a single mass), allow the yogurt to cool for two hours.
  • Place the yogurt in the refrigerator for 6 hours to halt the culturing process.
  • When it’s time to make a new batch, place 1.5 – 2 teaspoons of yogurt from the previous batch in a cup of new milk and start again. Larger batches can be made (up to two quarts per container) by maintaining the same yogurt-to-milk ratio.  Yogurt from each batch can be used to make the next batch.  Yogurt from batch A is used to make batch B, yogurt from batch B is used to make batch C and so on.  To perpetuate the culture, be sure to make a new batch of yogurt at least once every seven days. Waiting longer than one week between culturing can weaken and eventually kill the culture.

Making Greek Yogurt with the Characteristic Thick Consistency:

Commercially available Greek Yogurt is often very thick.  There are two techniques which can help you achieve a similar texture:

  • Straining the yogurt to remove excess whey (clear liquid) greatly increases the thickness of the yogurt.  There are a number of ways to do this.  If you are using a tight-weave tea towel or multi-layered cheese cloth or butter muslin, place a colander in a bowl.  Lay a tea towel or cheese cloth in the bowl.  Add the yogurt and either let it drain as is or gather up the edges of the cloth and knot them over an upper kitchen cabinet handle so the towel hangs over the bowl to drain.  You can also use a cotton bag, jelly bag or even a pillow case.  Drain the yogurt for approximately 2 hours or until the desired thickness is obtained.  Continued straining will yield a soft spreadable cheese texture and eventually a firm cream cheese texture.  The excess whey can be used for soaking grains, for fermenting vegetables or condiments or as a replacement for water in recipes.
  • Culturing Greek yogurt with part cream instead of 100% milk will also yield a thicker texture and a richer tasting yogurt.

–Instructions courtesy Cultures for Health.

The yogurt (btw, Einstok beer is totally recommended, very tasty):


Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “Homemade Yogurt

  1. Cathleen

    June 22, 2012 at 11:25 am

    I haven’t tried to make it super thick, but I make our own yogurt sometimes and my method seems to be simpler than the one you tried (basically this one: I heat milk (at least 2%) to about 185 on the stove over med-low heat, then let it cool to about 115, then thin/warm the yogurt I’m using as a starter and stir it into the milk (for starter, whole milk Fage seems to work well, as do some of the yogurts from our local dairies). Next I pour into glass canning jars and pop into the oven with the light on. If it has been particularly cool in the house, I might heat the oven to 150 or so first, but usually the light is enough. I do this right before bed, and in the morning the yogurt is usually thick enough for my liking and I stick it in the fridge.

    Next I think you should tackle mozzarella. My attempts have been, uh, less than completely successful, so I’d love to hear if you have better luck!

    – your cousin and culinary kin
    (Great blog, btw!)

  2. Emily

    July 1, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Thanks for the advice – I should definitely try it again.

    Mozzarella intimidates me a bit, what with all the stretching. But I definitely should give that a try as well.

    Glad you’re enjoying the blog, and hope you’re having a good time being a mommy!


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