Friday, January 22, 2010

Homemade Yogurt

The only reason I am posting this recipe tonight, is that I just received a threatening phone call with lots of heavy breathing saying that if I left my house tomorrow without sharing this, my family would be in danger.  Okay, not really.  But Hye Country Heather was VERY persuasive....and insistant so here it goes.  For those of you that have never made homemade yogurt, it is EXTREMELY easy and requires very little "equipment".  You'll need a large stainless pot, a gallon glass jar, a thermometer (I wouldn't use a candy thermometer, I don't think they go low enough), a measuring cup, a seamless stainless spoon and plain yogurt culture.

First, you need to go to the grocery store and secure a culture.  Why am I talkin' all fancy pants here.  Go to the dairy section and get you a small container of plain yogurt with LIVE cultures.  For those of you that use Activia, you can buy a small container and make yourself and entire gallon for pennies.  Seriously, it only takes a 1/2 cup of cultured yogurt to make a gallon.  You do the math.

Also, if you are using store bought milk it is pasteurized so you can omit the first 2 steps of the recipe.  Here we go:

     1 gallon whole or skim milk
     1/2 cup cultured plain yogurt

1.  If you are using, fresh unpasteurized milk, pour it into a large pot.  (NOTE:  You can make this fresh from the cow and it is the exact, perfect, couldn't-be-better temperature.  Also, I have made it without pasteurizing my fresh milk and it works great, too).  Place over medium heat and heat to 161 degrees.

2.  Remove from heat.  Let cool to 115-120 degrees, stirring every once in a while to speed up the cooling process.

3.  While the milk cools in the pot, pour 1/2 cup culture into a wide mouth glass gallon jar (If you are wondering where to get one of these, stalk your local restaurants.  Locally we have a pizza place that uses tons of jalapeno peppers that come in the glass jars.)

4.  After the milks cools to 115-120 degrees, remove the film from the surface (this only happens if you pasteurize).  Pour the milk into the jar with the yogurt starter.  Stir briefly with a wire whisk, or large stainless seamless spoon, to mix the yogurt into the milk.

5.  Screw on lid.  Wrap the jar in a bath towel and secure it with clothespins.  Basically, you are trying to insulate it so it cools every so slowly.  Set the jar in a warm spot for 4-6 hours.  I skip the whole towel thing and have an igloo cooler that I stole from my husband.  It seats two gallon jars side by side perfectly.  When the yogurt is thick, unwrap the jar (or pull it out of the cooler) and store it in the refrigerator.  Let chill before using or it will separate.  Be sure to save 1/2 c. for starting your next batch! See how this can really save you money.

A couple of notes on making homemade dairy products.  It is very important that you use seamless equipment. Remember that dairy products are a result of good bacteria.  If you have a seam in your equipment, it harbors nasty bacteria.  Eeeww.  Also, only work with stainless steel.  Aluminum reacts with the acids in the milk and that's not good either.  If you have any questions,  post a comment or send me an email.  

Prairie Kerri

P.S.  If you actually try this at home, please come back and post a comment.  I would LOVE to hear!


  1. People are going to think I'm some sort of cattle stealing murderer after reading your posts. It's all fiction folks!

  2. Tried this out over the weekend. Great! I divided my gallon into two half gallons. Left on half gallon plain and added 1/2 cup sugar and a good splash of vanilla in the other. Both are good but the vanilla is wonderful!

  3. For raw milk yogurt skip the heating to 161 degrees part. Use milk fresh from the cow/goat which is usually still in the 80-90 degree temp when you get back from the barn. I then culture it in my dehydrator at 100 degrees for several hours. I always end up with super thick yogurt that is perfect (and I almost always use goat milk). I use yogourmet yogurt starter or sometimes I use brown cow plain yogurt from the grocery store.

    Anyway, just another option that saves messing up another pan. I just add the culture to my jar and then strain the milk directly into it. Super easy and super good with a minimum of dirty dishes.
    ~Mrs. P