This post walks you through the steps to make yogurt at home from organic milk. The steps are simple and most of the time the process is hands off.
Why make yogurt at home?
Since milk is one of the original farm-to-table staples, making yogurt has been going on for ages. It’s one of my very favorite foods for breakfast, a lunch side or a snack because it has 8 grams of high-quality protein (in every 8-ounce glass), which fills me right up.
How to make yogurt at home
Although we’ve dabbled in homemade cheese, I’ve always been a little intimidated about making yogurt at home, but the process was actually quite simple. Just clean your props, heat the milk, cool the milk, add yogurt starter, incubate and chill. I did some research on the web to hone my process. There are a lot of opinions on yogurt making techniques. The only thing I think I’d change next time would be to use a smaller cooler. But I’ll get to that in a sec! My yogurt turned out great – here’s how I made it!
Steps to make yogurt
Step 1: Gather equipment.
I used our big stock pot to sanitize the equipment, our smaller pot for heating the milk, two quart mason jars for storage, and a thermometer and whisk.
Step 2: Sanitize equipment
You do this by adding a few inches of water to the pot and letting it slowly boil for about 10 minutes. I read you can also use the dishwasher for this, but since I didn’t know how long the cycle would take and mine was filled with oatmeal bowls, I figured simmering would be a little easier.
Step 3: Heat up milk.
I used half a gallon of organic whole milk, as I read lots of articles that said lower fat milk doesn’t work as well. Something to note about milk of different fat content is that no matter which kind you choose, you’re getting the same nine essential nutrients, including 8 grams of protein. I also made sure that the yogurt starter I used said it had LIVE active cultures!
Heat the milk to 185-190 degrees.
Step 4: Prepare ice bath
Make an ice bath in your sink to cool the milk back down to 120 degrees.
Step 5: While milk is cooling, get a few gallons of water heating on the stove.
You’ll use this to heat your incubator. You want it to be about 110 degrees inside the cooler, so I used water that was about 150 degrees to account for the cooler temp of the cooler when it started.
Step 6: Add your starter – 3 ounces of yogurt per half gallon of milk.
This can be previously made homemade yogurt or a commercial one, but as I said above, make sure it has live active cultures on the label. I’ve also read that Greek yogurt isn’t the best, so get regular plain whole milk yogurt.
Whisk it in until it’s smooth.
Step 7: Pour milk into your clean quart jars.
Some sites recommended funnels, but mine poured nicely right from the pot into the wide mouth jars.
and cap with lids
Step 8: Pour your hot (but not boiling!) stove water into the cooler and place your jars in to incubate.
Next time I will try to use a smaller cooler – mine was clearly too big! And don’t look at the dirt – I knew no food would be touching the inside so I didn’t bother to sanitize.
Step 9: Allow to incubate for 4-6 hours.
Types of yogurt incubators
I read lots of different opinions on incubation so I was most worried about this step. People have used a heating pad, the oven, the microwave – all kinds of incubators. Really you just need something that will hold the yogurt at 110 degrees for an extended period of time. The Instant pot work too!
How long should you incubate yogurt?
And that time varies too – some said incubate for as little as 3 hours and others as long as 10 hours and overnight. I checked mine at 3.5 and 5 hours. When I checked the air temp after about 3.5 hours, it was in the 90s and my yogurt was still a little runny. I think this was because my cooler was too big! So I added some more hot water at this point and gave it another 1.5 hours. Then I had yogurt! I’m not sure if it was the temp change or the additional time, but I think what’s important to note that is that this process isn’t black and white – it seems to work in many different ways and you can adjust depending on your equipment and taste preferences.
Step 10: Chill yogurt for a few hours
And then crack open and see if it worked!
How did it taste?!
Mine turned out totally delicious – so rich and almost fluffy! I LOVE plain yogurt so this was a total win. There was some whey that I poured off the top (sorry, I can’t stomach saving that for a smoothie liquid!) but once that was poured off I had nice, thick yogurt.
Served with some Key Lime Curd on top!
How did the process go?
The whole process was much easier than I expected, and you could totally do this too! The hands-on time doesn’t take that long, and the incubation doesn’t need babysitting. That said, I’m not sure I’m going to be making yogurt every week, but I would like to try it again. I can see how if you wanted to make this a regular process an inexpensive yogurt maker like this one would be worth buying. That would save a few steps and streamline the process even more. I’m so glad I tried this though! Now I know how to do it, and I’m sure next time will be easier.
What flavors of homemade yogurt could you make?
Since this was my first time, I didn’t want to add any variables, but you could go crazy with flavor options added in the cooling stage! My friend Faith once made chai yogurt that was delicious. The beauty of doing it yourself is that you can get high-quality yogurt customized to your taste, and since it’s made with real milk, you know it’s a wholesome and nutritious choice as well. Real food at its finest : )
- Half a gallon of whole milk
- 3 ounces of whole milk yogurt with active cultures
- Gather two big pots, 2 quart jars with lids, a thermometer, a whisk and a small cooler.
- Place your jars, whisk and lids in a pot and fill with a few inches of water. Cover and heat to boiling for about 10 minutes.
- Pour milk into a stock pot and heat to 185 to 190 degrees.
- Fill a sink with ice water and place pot in ice bath. Cool milk to 120 degrees.
- Meanwhile, heat another pot of water above 110 degrees. This will go in your cooler.
- Whisk in 3 ounces of yogurt starter.
- Pour the milk into jars and add lids. Place jars in cooler full of heated water.
- Incubate for 4-6 hours, until the liquid milk in your jars has turned to yogurt when you tip them sideways. Ensure the temp stays around 110 degrees and add more hot water if necessary.
- After incubation, put jars in the fridge where yogurt will continue to firm up.
Ideas for using your homemade yogurt:
This post was sponsored by The National Milk Life Campaign