Homemade Yogurt

  • 3-3/4 cup warm tap water
  • 1-2/3 cups instant nonfat dry milk
  • 2 to 4 tablespoon store-bought, plain yogurt with active yogurt cultures (read the label to be sure)

In a large saucepan combine the tap water and dry milk powder. Stir it very well, and let it sit a few minutes. Then stir it again. All of the dry milk should be dissolved. Heat the milk over medium low heat until it reaches 180°. This kills off any competeing bacteria so that the yogurt will respond better to the acidophilus cultures. Remove from the stove and allow to cool to 115°. If the milk is any hotter than this then it will kill off the yogurt cultures. Add the store-bought plain yogurt to the warm milk. Stir well. Allow it sit for a few minutes and stir a final time. This should dissolve the store-bought yogurt completely.

Carefully pour the mixture into a very clean, quart-sized, wide-mouthed canning jar, or another clean, quart-sized container.
Incubate the yogurt in a warm spot for 6 to 8 hours, or until it is set almost as thick as store-bought yogurt. Chill and eat.

Each cook develops her own way of incubating home made yogurt through trial and error. I am going to describe my method, followed by some other common methods and ideas. But first there are a few things you need to know. Yogurt is cultured from acidophilous bacteria, which you can sometimes buy in powdered form at the health food store. I have never actually seen it, but I’ve heard tell about it.

Yogurt can also be cultured from store-bought yogurt which contains “active yogurt cultures” or live bacteria. Read the label and it will tell you if the yogurt contains active cultures or not.

I always use prepared yogurt as my culture. I buy a large container of plain store brand yogurt from the store. I bring it home and scoop it into a couple of icecube trays. Then I freeze it. When it is completely frozen, I take the frozen yogurt cubes and pack them in a plastic freezer bag. Each time I make yogurt, I use one cube as the starter. You can use your own fresh yogurt as a starter too, but eventually it loses it’s power due to the introduction of foreign bacteria, usually after using it about 3 or 4 times. I like to use a new frozen yogurt cube each time I prepare yogurt. I’ve had my best results this way.

When making yogurt with powdered milk, it is good to use more dry milk powder than you would to just make fluid milk. For instance, normally I would use 1 1/3 cups of dry milk powder to make a quart of milk. When I reconstitute milk for yogurt, I add an extra 1/3 cup of dry milk powder, using 1-2/3 cups of dry milk powder for a quart of yogurt. This makes the yogurt thicker and also higher in calcium. Even when preparing yogurt from fluid milk, the results are better if you add a little extra powdered milk for thickness.

There are lots of ways to incubate your yogurt. I prefer to do it in my electric oven. I set the stove dial half way between OFF and 200°, or at approximately 100°. The light which signifies the oven is on, pops on for a moment, and then pops off when the temperature is reached. I set my jar of yogurt in the oven and leave it for between 6 and 8 hours, usually overnight, or while I’m out for the day. I take out the yogurt when it is thick. This method works every time for me. My yogurt has a very mild flavor, which the kids like better than the sour stuff we used to get from the store.

There are many other ways to incubate your yogurt. Some people pour the warm milk combined with the starter, into a large preheated thermos and let it sit overnight. Other folks set the yogurt on top of a warm radiator, or close to a wood stove, or in a gas stove with the pilot operating, or on a heating pad set on low. Sometimes I have placed the jar in a pan filled with warm water, to keep the temperature even. This worked pretty well when I incubated the yogurt next to the wood stove. It kept the yogurt at a uniform temperature, even with occasional drafts from the front door opening and closing. The heating-pad method is supposed to be pretty reliable. You set it on low and then cover the heating pad with a towel, place the yogurt on top of it, and put a large bowl or stew pot upside down over the yogurt. This makes a little tent which keeps the heat in. I don’t have a heating pad, and have never actually used this method myself, but a good friend swears by it. Another friend uses a medium sized picnic cooler to incubate her yogurt. She places the jars inside the cooler and then add two jars filled with hot tap water, to keep the temperature warm enough. After 4 hours, check the yogurt to see if it is thick enough. If it isn’t then refill the water jars with more hot water, return them to the cooler, and let the yogurt sit another 4 hours. When I tried this method, it worked very well. It took a full 8 hours, but the yogurt was perfect, and I liked not having my oven tied up during the day. Also, there was little danger of getting the yogurt too hot while it incubated, and drafts weren’t a problem because of the closed nature of the cooler. You should try to disturb the yogurt as little as possible while it is incubating, in ensure you get good results.

After the yogurt is thick, place it in the fridge. It will stay sweet and fresh for about a week or two. You may prepare more than one jar at a time if you like. I included the method for a quart because this is the size canning jar I use. Narrow mouth canning jars would probably work too, but I prefer the wide mouth ones because it is easier to stick a measuring cup or ladel down inside of it, to scoop out the yogurt. I usually prepare two quart jars at a time. The prepared yogurt is good mixed with jelly, fresh or canned fruit, served with granola for breakfast, or substituted for sour cream in many recipes like stroganoffs. It is also nice pureed in fruit smoothie blender drinks, or stirred into gelatin or popscicles before freezing them. It can also be stirred half and half with regular mayonnaise to make a very tasty low fat mayonnaise. This mixture can be used in just about any recipe which calls for mayonnaise.

Learning to make yogurt is a trial and error process. Most people don’t have perfect or consistant results the first few times they make it. With a little practice though, anyone can learn to make it. When you get a little skill at it, the entire process becomes second nature, and you will have sweet fresh yogurt available whenever you like.

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Comments

  1. says

    You have inspired me to try making homemade yogurt! I love mixing yogurt with homemade granola. Now I can try mixing HOMEMADE yogurt with homemade granola. Wish me luck! Thanks for the info!

  2. says

    The heating stage (to 180 F) is pasteurization only meant for raw unpasteurized milk. It would definitely be good to state why you perform certain steps.

    • Holly Lind says

      Not necessarily Jax. I make 4-5 different types of yogurt at home and 2 of them specifically say to heat the milk even if you are using pasteurized milk. See culturesforhealth.com. They not only have different heirloom yogurt cultures, but great directions on using and storing.

  3. Denise M says

    I haven’t tried this recipe. I make my yogurt in my crock pot. I strain it to make it thicker (I like it really thick). Do you know what I might be able to use the liquid that comes off of it for? I hate to throw it out.

    • Jeanne says

      I use the whey from strained yogurt in my home-made bread. Just substitute it for liquids in your recipe. If you’re not planning to make bread at the same time you make yogurt, you can freeze the whey until you need it. Just defrost it and warm it up to baby-formula temperature (110 – 115 degrees) before you put the yeast in it. Extra nutrition!

    • Kathy says

      I like to use the liquid (whey) for pancakes or waffles, actually any baked good where you might use milk or buttermilk. Also bery good in a smoothie.

    • Anita says

      I’ve read other sites that mention straining the yogurt to make it thicker. And they say to give the whey (liquid) to your dog or cat. Or even good to give to chickens if you have any.
      I make my own yogurt but without powered milk added, so I do have to strain it for the thicker style that I like.

    • says

      hi, my mom and I are begining to work with homemade yogurt, mine was very successful for awhile using my dehydrator, but, because it was so open, I was afraid it was getting to many drafts, and frankly, I can’t make enough to last more than a day or two,and I would like to make larger quantities. My mom has started making hers in the crock pot, it was very tasty, but ran into a problem of it being to thin, she uses standard pasturized milk from the grocery store, I’m sure it 1% fat (she’s such a health nut) but, it is to thin, she and I both want a thicker yogurt, any suggestions?

    • Carla says

      That whey is precious! Get the Sally Fallon Nourishing Traditions book for an explanation. The Weston A. Price Foundation is Sally Fallon’s basis. Also, the GAPSdiet.com book & cookbook (& DVD’s). All these are good sites.

      I want to make cultured veggies, etc. The probiotics in your gut are so important. I will pick up some raw, Jersey milk this week — yes, it a lot of trouble to obtain — & will make the very-low-heat version of yogurt.

  4. Lael says

    I like to give young children that are learning to eat by themselves cereal mixed with yogurt instead of milk. It isn’t as messy and the children are thrilled by their accomplishment! Little things like this are so important for children.

    • YoGo says

      I always use a buttermilk known as Cultured Bulgarian Buttermilk under the Darigold brand name available in Western Washington, where I live. It is just a little more expensive than regular buttermilk. It is a whole milk product but, I use it with non fat milk in making my yogurt. I don’t know of it’s availability elsewhere. It give a great result – somewhat more tart than grocery store yogurt – as I prefer my yogurt. I have used this for many years and it has always given me great results – I use it exclusively for my home made yogurt.

  5. says

    Another trick with homemade yogurt is a spreadable cheese. The step between culturing your yogurt and putting it in the container for the fridge makes it into cheese. If you lay a cheese cloth or some coffee filters in a colander over a bowl and let the whey drain out, for a few hours, you get a nice thick cheese, that is amazing on bagels, sandwiches or mixed with peanut butter.

  6. Paula says

    I don’t think you need to heat powdered milk up to 180 degrees. It has already been pasteurized, and the reason for drying the milk into powder in the first place is to remove the moisture so that it will not spoil from any bacteria. I add water to the milk powder and warm it to around 110 and add the yogurt culture.

  7. Autumn Vogel says

    I am so happy I found your simple instructions. I am using powdered milk at extra strength as you suggested, and I’m also straining the resulting yogurt through a cheesecloth to get a Greek-style consistency. I simply pour the already nice and thick result into the cheesecloth laid over a strainer set in a pie dish to catch the whey and sit it in the refrigerator for about an hour. The very thick yogurt falls clean from the cheesecloth afterward! Eat it plain or flavor however you like. It is sweet and not at all tangy sour and weird like the store bought stuff. It is fat and carb free, high protein and probiotic laden – great healthy treat.

  8. kzolady says

    I would like to try making homemade yogurt from Smart Blend fat free milk with omega 3 added. Can anyone please tell me if there is any reason this should not work?
    Thanks

    • Jennifer says

      This should work fine. But you should try to add some powdered milk to make sure it thickens nicely, as stated above. I usually use powdered milk but have made it with fat free milk with powder added.

  9. Rebecca C says

    Hi, just wanted to say that I’ve been using a quarter cup of yogurt from a previous batch to make a new batch (quart size) every time for ages. So in my experience, there is nothing wrong with that and it does not lose it’s power. I haven’t bought yogurt for at least six months.

  10. Karen Hudson says

    As another reader has posted, you can use your own “starter” just as you would for sourdough. Two tablespoons per quart will do it. Just set aside two tablespoons from each batch you make, and add to the next batch. Also, it works well to let it incubate in an electric fry pan set on “warm” and covered. When my children were young we went through about four quarts a week—I made two quarts at a time.

  11. says

    I’ve been making my own yogurt for well over a year. Occasionally my batch does not thicken and I don’t want to throw it out if I can reboil and start over. What do you think? Of course my concern is the possibility of harming my family with ‘bad’ yogurt.

    • susan says

      I have been making my own for years and have had your problem twice. The cause is either using “dead” yogurt as the starter or heating it too high and “killing” it. You are not feeding them “bad” yogurt, just yogurt without the live friendly bacteria.

  12. Kathleen says

    I have made two batches of yogurt so far with the non-fat dried milk. I end up with a nice, thick and good-tasting yogurt. The only negative thing is that the yogurt made with the dry milk is not as smooth as with the regular milk. Or maybe I’m doing something wrong during my process. Any ideas?

  13. Kathleen says

    My mom made yogurt in the 1970’s in a yogurt machine and I want to start making my own yogurt, but prefer not to have another kitchen gadget right now. I gave it a try and was amazed and so pleased to find yogurt in the oven when I woke up. It was a little thinner than I like, so I strained it and used the whey for mashed potatoes – yummmm! The first batch is gone, so I better get busy and make another. Thank you for posting!

  14. says

    When I want to make alot of yogurt, I use my crockpot. I start it after dinner, then before I go to bed when it has cooled down to 115, I set the whole thing with the cover back on, in my electric oven wrapped in a big towel. I only leave the light on, with instructions to everyone not to turn the light out. I do not turn the oven on and in the morning it is perfect. The first time, I was really surprised how warm the oven stayed with just the light on. There was actually condensation on the door and walls and it was a steady perfect temp.
    Thanks for all the different coments on all the uses for yogurt. My favorite in fresh berries, 1 tsp of maple syrup and a couple tlbs. of homemade granola

  15. Nicole says

    Can you use this recipe to make yogurt cheese with? I’ve really been wanting to try it and I’d love to make it this way. Thank you for all your wonderful tips and tricks:).

  16. Jeannie says

    Hi,

    I just tried making some yogurt. It is very thin, almost like slightly thickened milk. Is there any way of fixing this now that it has incubated? I really do not want to waste all this milk… Please help!

  17. Elise Barber says

    Do you leave the oven on? I saw on other web sites that people turn the oven on at first and then turn it off. I think you leave it on. Thanks.

  18. Amber says

    I have now made my 3rd batch of your yogurt, hands down this is the best yogurt ever. It has turned out perfect every single time. I had never made my own yogurt in the past because many of the recipes I read seemed too complicated. Your recipe looked easy enough so I gave it a try. I used the ice chest method for incubation. The first time I changed the water after 4 hours and let it incubate another 4. The second time I lost track of time and checked on it at 6.5 hours. It was still perfectly warm in the ice chest and the yogurt had already thickened up perfectly. I bring some of this to my husbands Grandma and she cannot get enough. This woman is extremely picky about yogurt and used to make her own too. The texture is perfect the thickness is perfect and the taste is not seet or sour mmm…Thank you sooo much for this recipe!

  19. Tamara says

    Hi. I just tried using your recipe, and I guess I didn’t do something right, because the yogurt separated. I tasted the curds, and they don’t really have the tangy taste that I associate with yogurt (I’ve only ever eaten store-bought, though). I’m just not sure if it’s still good or not.

  20. Astonman says

    I am going to try my first batch of homemade yogurt soon. However, I am somewhat dismayed by what hillbilly housewife wrote. She gave very specific instructions and then said yogurt making was trial and error! Sounds very inconsistent to me, What say you?

    • Yvonne says

      Hillbilly Housewife’s recipe for yoghurt is the best I’ve ever made. My previous attempts at making yoghurt were a failure.

      I mix warm water, powdered milk together thoroughly. Bring to 180 deg (I use a thermometer) on low heat, no stirring. Turn heat off and let stand until mixture cools to 115 deg. I put 2-4 tablespoons of bought yoghurt (I freeze the rest) in a jug and slowly mix in the heated milk, A LITTLE AT A TIME, until well mixed. Cover jug with a plate and put into a barely heated oven and let stand, undisturbed, for 8 hours (I keep the oven on). Result, yummy thick yoghurt.

      I save 2-4 tablespoons to make my next batch of yoghurt or use the frozen bought yoghurt when my home-made has lost it’s potency.

  21. says

    I also make my yogurt out of dry milk but since the milk is already dry, I don’t see that there is any bacteria there. What I will do is first boil my water, wait until it cools to the correct tempurature and then mix in my milk and cultures, set it on a heating pad and let it develop. I don’t drain the whey either, instead I make a mixture of gelatin (thoroughly dissolved) and add that, let it chill for 12 hours. Always turns out great.

  22. Rosemarie says

    Thank you, this is the recipe I used to use and needed a refresher,, I love yogurt an so does my dog it helps keep us both yeast (infection) free. I like to make a gallon at a time and use the stove top in a spaghetti pot (so the heat is not directly under the yogurt, like a steamer) I use an induction top since my stove does not keep a low 100 degree heat. The induction grill does and I keep the lid on with a probe thermometer in the yogurtn so I can see what the temp is at all times, sounds like a lot od work but it really isn’t it is better than getting on my boots and going shopping..;)
    Thank you

  23. says

    In my yogurt, I use a half can of evaporated milk in mine as I like a thick, Greek style yogurt. I also am able to use fresh milk from a farm in my area.
    I also do sour cream and buttermilk using the milk, I order my cultures from a company that carries cheese making supplies.
    I usually culture for at least 12 hours as I like the tangy taste of true cultured dairy.

  24. Kristi says

    You have changed my life! Not only was the yogurt easy to make but so tasty too! I live in rural Alaska where we have to fly in all of our groceries, this recipe will save me lots of money!

  25. Daphne says

    I made this yesterday and it is fantastic! I will NEVER buy yogurt again!!! Thanks so much for the recipe!!!

  26. says

    hillybilly housewife\
    When making your second batch of yogart can you use this first batch for a starter. instead of buying store bought yogart .Just thought that would work, What do you think, Going to try mine in a cooler.So I want het the house up. Going to be 90 degrees today in Va .
    Grace

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