I’ve been making my own yogurt for a few years now and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to store bought yogurt. Not only does it save me money, but homemade yogurt is seriously good.
The method I’ve adopted is very basic — no special heirloom yogurt cultures or fancy incubating equipment required. You could even make a batch today and have homemade yogurt tomorrow morning!
What Do You Need to Make Yogurt?
All you need to make homemade yogurt is a half gallon of milk and about a half cup of yogurt. Whole or 2% milk will make the thickest, creamiest yogurt, but you can also use skim milk if you like. For the yogurt, either Greek or regular yogurt is fine, but avoid any flavorings; stick to plain, unflavored yogurts.
When you’re buying yogurt, also check that it lists “Live Active Yogurt Cultures” in the ingredients — we need those! The live cultures are what actually turn the milk into yogurt. The number of cultures doesn’t really matter; as long as there is at least one, you can make yogurt. This said, different strains of bacteria have different health benefits, so I personally look for the yogurt with the most number of cultures listed. Some common ones are L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Casei.
What Equipment Do You Need?
All you need to make yogurt is a heavy pot with a lid.
You can certainly use a dehydrator if you have one — these are great for holding the yogurt at a very steady temperature as it incubates — but you can make great yogurt without them. Crock pots and ovens also work fine and so does an instant pot with yogurt setting.
Key is low heat – no higher than 100 degrees and slow incubation period. Min 8 hours – max 24 hours.
Personally I use a yogurt maker. I have Euro Cuisine® Automatic Yogurt Maker. I like this brand because I can make individual jars of yogurt. The jars are baby food sized. Perfect for a single serving. I purchased an GY4 EXPANSION TRAY which allows me to make up to 14 jars.
I think if I was in the market for another yogurt maker, I’d probably get a Luvele brand.
- Yogurt can be made in a heavy dutch oven, a yogurt maker, a instant pot with yogurt setting, in a slow cooker or in the oven
- 5 cups milk I prefer whole milk but any milk will do even plant based milks like coconut or almond
- 3 ounces Plain greek yogurt must have active cultures for yogurt to set up
- 3 tbsp honey or aqave syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Put milk in a large sauce pan and slowly heat to 180 degrees. (see note below on pasteurizing the milk for longer period of time).
- Remove milk from heat and allow milk to cool down to 110 degrees.
- Add yogurt into milk and stir. Add optional ingredients.
- Stir then pour yogurt solution into jars, glass bowl etc.
- I add a spoonful of preserves to each jar, or when in season a few ripe black berries.
- Plug in the yogurt maker and walk away for minimum of 8 hours (see note below on extending the incubation time). Remove jars from maker, put on the lids and store in the fridge.
Make Thicker Yogurt To make yogurt thicker here are a few tricks to try:
- Add 1/3 c whole milk powder per 1 liter of milk before pasteurizing milk. This increases the volume of milk solid proteins and results in an enriched and thicker yogurt
- When pasteurizing milk – keep milk at optimal 180 degree for 20 or longer. Heating denatures the milk proteins so they set together rather than forming curds. Also the little bit of evaporation that occurs during this extended heating process contributes to the thickening process.
- Put some water in the yogrt maker to steam. Water allows for accurate and even temperature during the incubation process.
- Incubate yogurt for 24 hours. Longer incubation period reduces the lactose or natural sugars found in milk and increases the healthy population of live bacteria. When consumed help to correct the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut. Longer incubation also increases the nutritional profile of any milk used including plant based milks.