Sunday, May 30, 2010

Making yogurt

A reader asked how to make yogurt. It just so happened I had some pictures of the process but never got around to posting them. goes.

Start with two quarts of milk. I like to use skim milk.

Add 1/4 cup of nonfat dry milk. This will add to the creaminess of the yogurt. Mix thoroughly and slowly heat the milk to 180F.

Don't stir during this time, just let the milk gently heat. When it hits 180F, turn the heat off and let it cool to between 105F and 115F. Again, don't stir. When the milk is cooled, there will be a thick nasty skin on top. Scoop this off and discard.

I like to use Bulgarian yogurt starter. I order mine from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. The reason I use Bulgarian starter is because it can recultured indefinitely.

Whatever you do, do NOT add the yogurt culture to the milk when it's hotter than 115F because it will kill the culture (been there, done that). Stir gently until the culture is thoroughly mixed.

Now the milk has to be incubated for a minimum of 5 to 6 hours (I usually incubate mine about 12 hours because I like a tarter yogurt). Anything can be used as long as the milk stays warm. Several years ago I bit the bullet and bought a Yogotherm Yogurt Maker. The reason I like this is it's nonelectric - it's literally just a plastic bucket that nestles inside a Styrofoam sleeve. You could probably put the milk behind the woodstove in order to stay warm; or inside a gas oven with a pilot light; or wrapped in towels and tucked inside a small ice chest. Use your creativity to come up with some way to keep the milk warm.

After the yogurt has incubated for several hours, remove the plastic bucket from the incubator and refrigerate overnight (or about 12 hours).

Before flavoring the yogurt, scoop out a few ounces and put it in a small container. Keep this in the fridge. This is your starter for the next batch.

To sweeten the yogurt, I use one cup of sugar or Splenda, then either add 1/4 cup vanilla (for vanilla yogurt) or some peach purree (peaches are my favorite fruit). Obviously you can flavor it however you like and to your taste.


  1. Great photos of the yogurt process and the Yogotherm. Thanks, Patrice! I asked Patrice about the Yogotherm. I've been using my crock pot and babysitting it all day for the 8-10 hours of incubation. While the milk is cooling down, I heat about 2 quarts of water to 115 F and pour it into a 6-quart crock pot. I pour the cultured milk into mason jars, add plastic tops and put them into the water in the crock pot (it holds 5 pint jars). I set a timer to remind me to check the water temp every 30 minutes, then set it for 5-7 minutes when I have to turn it on "Low" to maintain the temp. This becomes a bit much on a busy day. The Yogotherm is simpler AND non-electric. :)

  2. Making yogurt seems fairly straightforward, now that you've explained the steps. Thanks.

    The incubator appears to be a possible do-it-myself project. Maybe a 5 gallon bucket/lid and a 3 gallon bucket/lid, some spray insulating foam and voila! Think I'll try to make one, just to see if I can.

  3. What's the best way to keep yogurt as long as possible? Hubby and daughter like yogurt, son and I don't. Though daughter likes chocolate raspberry, hmm, wonder how I'd flavor that?

  4. OK, I'm a day late and a dollar short every time, but it is fun to go back to your links and read when I need it.

    have you ever made yogurt with powdered milk, in the little yogurt cup maker? I have a couple of them, but have only actually made yogurt one time, so I'm still kind of afraid to try, but the recipe that I have calls for powdered milk.

    thanks for your help.

    shalaee south east Idaho

    1. I've heard it can be done but I've never made yogurt with powdered milk. Try it and see what happens!

      - Patrice

  5. Hi Patrice,
    I made yogurt for the first time yesterday for a post I'm writing. I used milk and yogurt with live cultures (instead of a yogurt starter). Next time I'll try the dry milk for creaminess. I actually stirred it the whole time. While it was heating up(to keep it from burning on the bottom)and while it was cooling down. Is there a reason for not stirring? I really can't understand what I was afraid of. I'm thinking it will only get easier! Great way to save money.