Easy Homemade Yogurt: Save Money by Making your own Yogurt

Of all fermented foods, yogurt is one of my favorites. Buying yogurt can be expensive, and the individual plastic cups are a drag. You can save money and add less plastic to our environment by making your own yogurt! It's super easy and tasty.
I bought a yogurt maker at a thrift store or garage sale probably 5 years ago. I used it a couple of times with moderate success but it seem rather fussy.
Now I make yogurt the easy way.
You don't need a yogurt maker, you are the yogurt maker!
A few tools make the process easier.  You probably own everything you need to make yogurt already!
For my super easy laid back yogurt making I use the following items

  • Milk
  • Measuring cup
  • Mason jar, quart
  • Thermometer
  • Starter culture(you may use store bought plain yogurt, see notes below)
  • Shabby towel
  • Heating pad, I use a seedling mat.
  • Microwave(you could also use stove top, but then you need a pan, so much hassle)

Making yogurt is really easy, it is very forgiving and works every time(in my experience). Depending on certain variables it might be too thin, lumpy, sour, but it will still be edible yogurt. So to get consistent great yogurt you just need to control a few aspects of the process, time and temperature.

Here is my super simple yogurt making method,

1. Measure 3 1/2 cups milk into microwavable container.

2. Heat in microwave to 175 degrees, this is 6 and a half minutes for me, but you will need to determine the perfect time for your microwave.

3. Let milk cool on counter until 115 degrees. Remove any skin that has formed.
4. Add 3 Tbls yogurt or yogurt starter.

5. Pour into quart jar, cover with loose lid.
6. Make yogurt burrito, wrap in towel, wrap seedling mat around towel, secure loosely with large band. The goal here is to keep milk at  roughly 115 degrees, I added the towel because the mat alone was too warm. This can be adjusted as you learn what works for you.

7. Wait 5 hours. Check it, if it isn't done let it go another few hours and check again. Shouldn't take more than 12 hours. Yogurt is done when you tilt the jar and yogurt will separate from side of the jar. The longer yogurt cultures the tangier it will be, I like mine at about 6.5 hours.

8. Refrigerate, and enjoy, don't forget to make a new batch before eating all of your yogurt.

Notes on starter Cultures

The first few times I made yogurt I used plain store bought yogurt as my starter. It worked, I was on my way to becoming a fermented milk virtuoso. I was under the impression that I could just keep making yogurt from previous batches forever. I was sure that my yogurt would become better than the yogurt I started from, because terroir, and love of the craft.

I was wrong. I was disappointed to learn that commercially cultured yogurts can't be used to culture new batches of yogurt indefinitely. They start to get weird after a few batches.  Commercial yogurt cultures are lab grown individual bacteria strains blended together just so, for each new vat of commercial yogurt. what does this mean you ask? It means that eventually they will fall out of their harmonious equilibrium and one microbe will take over and spoil the flavor, like warring tribes.

That's not very effective DIYing if you ask me. What if you had to go off the grid?

The Solution

What I needed was an ancient clan of microbes that have been living together making yogurt for centuries, every one in harmony each with their own place/job.
You can get your own here: Cultures for Health.
I decided on a Bavarian yogurt culture. It is great.

Too runny, try heating the milk for longer, or culturing longer. Heat milk to 160 let sit for a few minutes on counter and microwave a little more, this helps transform proteins.
Lumpy, culturing temp might be too high, or culturing too long.
Weird tough bits, did you remove milk skin that formed while cooling?


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