Want to learn how to make yogurt? It is easy to make thick, creamy homemade yogurt, without any of the additives (guar gum, pectin, gelatin, milk powder, etc.) that are used to thicken store-bought yogurts. You don’t even need a yogurt maker!
Here are a few reasons why you should try making yogurt
- It’s delicious!
- You can make it without any special ingredients or kitchen tools.
- It can be used to make all sorts of other cultured foods.
- If you want to get more probiotics, then yogurt is a great option because dairy helps lactic bacteria survive digestion.
- Almost everyone likes it. There are even vegan options for anyone who doesn’t eat dairy.
- Homemade yogurt is so much cheaper than store-bought. Nothing is lost in making it, so a gallon of yogurt is literally the cost of a gallon of milk! (Perfect for yogurt-hungry families like mine!)
You don’t need a yogurt maker
You don’t need to own a yogurt maker. All that is required is to keep the yogurt relatively warm for at least 2 hours (and up to 24 hours if you like really it sour). Here are some alternative options:
- I use a folding fermentation box (affiliate link) so that I can make a large volume at once.
- Before I had my fermentation box I wrapped jars of yogurt up in warm wool sweaters and left them on the shelf above my hot water heater. It took a little longer, but it always worked.
- Stash it in the oven with the oven light left on.
- Place jars in an insulated cooler to keep them warm. You can even add a few jars filled with boiling water to help hold the heat for longer.
- Use a slow cooker or Instant Pot. Put a few jars of yogurt into your slow cooker with 2″ of water to create a warm water bath, then leave it on the keep warm setting.
Choosing and maintaining a good starter
The best starters are purchased cultures. You can find a number of different options at Cultures For Health (affiliate link). Alternatively, you can also just use store-bought yogurt for culture. It’s a great way to test how probiotic (or not) a particular yogurt is.
A vigorous grocery store culture should be able to make thick yogurt without the use of additives. Here are a few things to look for when using store-bought yogurt:
- Only use plain yogurt. The sweetened ones just don’t seem to work at all.
- Smaller, local brands are usually better than national brands.
- Look at the date. You want the culture to be decently fresh, so choose a long date over a short one.
- I’ve had great success with plain Greek Gods and Astro BioBest (neither of these is an affiliate link).
Fresh is best when maintaining a culture. If you find that your yogurt culture starts to have issues the longer you keep it, it’s probably because you are not feeding it often enough. Like all living things, dairy cultures need to be fed in order to be healthy. Here are a few suggestions for maintaining a vigorous culture.
- If you are keeping the culture in the fridge, it needs to be re-cultured every 7 days. Obviously, that’s quite a bit of work! So unless you’re very into yogurt, I recommend freezing the culture.
- Dairy culture freezes very well, and it will last in the freezer for at least 4 weeks (often longer). Whenever I make a batch of yogurt, I always freeze enough culture to make the next batch. You can freeze it in a plastic container, zip-top bag or straight-sized mason jar.
- Defrost the frozen culture for 24 hours in the fridge before using it.
If you don’t have thick yogurt after 8 hours then it’s likely due to one of the following common problems:
- The starter didn’t actually have enough live bacteria in it. A possibility with a supermarket yogurt.
- You added the starter before the milk cooled to 110F (40C) and accidentally killed the bacteria.
- It wasn’t warm enough during the culturing (though this is rare).
How to Make Yogurt
Making your own yogurt is easier than you think! No special yogurt maker or culture is required for a perfect bowl of thick, rich yogurt. Homemade yogurt is an affordable way to get a dose of probiotics!
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 hours
- Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
- Yield: 2 cups 1x
- Category: Yogurt
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: Probiotic
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 2 tbsp yogurt with live culture
- 2 cups of milk
- Slowly heat the milk on the stove to 180 F (80 C). Whisk occasionally to keep the milk from scalding on the bottom of the pot. (Heating the milk causes the proteins to denature making for thicker yogurt. You could skip this step, but your yogurt won’t be as thick).
- Pour the hot milk into a glass jar and cool to 105 F (40C).
- When the milk has cooled, stir in the yogurt culture. If you are using store-bought yogurt you may want to add up to 6 tbsp yogurt as they tend to have weaker cultures.
- Maintain at around 110F (40 C) until it is set to a pudding-like consistency (for at least 2 hours, or if you like a sour yogurt then culture for up to 24 hours.)
- If you don’t have a thermometer, then heat your yogurt until it whisks up nice and frothy, then cool it to just above room temperature. However, I recommend getting a thermometer if you want to make nice thick yogurt because accuracy in heating the milk is key to thick yogurt.
- Homemade yogurt can be flavoured just like store-bought yogurt. Add jam, fresh fruit, vanilla, or cinnamon. Just don’t add the flavours before culturing, or it may interfere with properly setting the yogurt.
- Here’s my recipe for Greek yogurt or labneh. All you need to do is strain the yogurt to thicken it. The whey can be used for baking or as a starter culture for other ferments. Yum!
- If you want make cream-top yogurt, use non-homogenized milk. Or if you can’t find non-homogenized milk then add a few tablespoons of cream to the top of the jar before fermenting. It won’t be the same, but it will taste good!
Keywords: probiotic, healthy, affordable, easy, simple, breakfast, snack. lunch, dessert, waste free, gluten free, keto, anti-candida