Thursday, October 27, 2011

Making Yogurt

I've decided to post my yogurt recipe; not that it's anything exceptional, it's just yogurt. However, yogurt is getting expensive at the store, up to .80 cents to a $1.00 for a 6 ounce cup. When you have 2 or more yogurts getting eaten daily, that can add up. Yogurt is relatively simple to make, and you can buy basic to fancy counter appliances to make yogurt.

Some people do it in an old cooler or even a thermos. I did break down and spend $30 bucks on a yogurt maker. I make yogurt every week though, so it paid for itself in the first month. What you will need to make a batch of yogurt:

My personal recipe

I prefer sweetened yogurt so I improvised, and made my own recipe.

6 to 8 cups of milk (I use whole milk, but many people use skim so it's your choice)
1/2 cup sugar ( or whatever sweetener you like, or you can leave the sweetener out and make it plain)
1 1/2 T. vanilla
1 cup of store bought yogurt for starter for your first batch. I buy another one about every 4 batches to keep it fresh.
cooking thermometer

Add milk and sweetener to double boiler pan on the stove or glass bowl for the microwave. Heat the milk to 190 degrees, hold it at that temp for about 15 to 20 minutes. The reason for holding it at this temp is to break down the milk proteins. If you don't do this your yogurt may come out ropey, or slimy. It will still be good, just the consistency is odd. Let milk cool down to 100 degrees, add vanilla. Using a spoon mix starter yogurt well, until it is smooth, and stir into warm milk, sugar and vanilla mixture. Pour into cups and place in yogurt maker.

Cover with the lid and let incubate for 8 to 12 hours. After the allotted time, remove lid, cover container cups of fresh new yogurt and refrigerate. It's simple and yummy! We serve it with berries or just plain. This also makes wonderful smoothies.

Cost breakdown:

1/2 gallon of milk $1.78
1 cup yogurt .80
1/2 cup sugar .13
1 1/2 T. vanilla .10
$2.81 for 11 cups yogurt = .26 cents each as opposed to $ 8.80 for 11 yogurts from the store.

That's a no-brainer for me! I have included instructions for making it in the cooler if you want to try it without purchasing a yogurt maker. I purchased mine because I'm a tad bit lazy, and I needed to make at least 14 yogurts a week. The cooler process works great but the appliance on the counter is much simpler. You have to decide what is best for you.

Here is the cooler method:

A good size cooler
2-3 glass or plastic quart-sized containers (like pitchers, empty soda bottles, etc.)
a cooking thermometer
about a dozen glass or ceramic cups for the yogurt
1/2 gallon - 1 gallon milk (lowfat to whole; I personally haven't had much luck with nonfat)
small container of unsweetened, unflavored yogurt with live cultures
Some people add non-fat powdered milk, if you want your yogurt thicker - with a good starter, this usually isn't necessary. I do not use it.

Heat the milk in a double boiler or in the microwave
The milk needs to be heated to about 190 degrees. This is for two reasons:

It kills any other bacteria that might be in the milk that would compete against the bacteria that convert milk to yogurt.
It changes the milk protein in a way that allows it to culture and firm up.

Prepare your clean glass or plastic cups for your yogurt. I have found the plastic jam freezer containers work great for yogurt because they come with lids they are great for storing the yogurt after it is made.

Once the milk reaches 190 degrees hold it there for approx. 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool down. Once it reaches 105-110F, mix up your plain yogurt in its container until it's liquid, and add it to the pot of warm milk. Stir it for a couple of minutes for the yogurt to dissolve well into the milk. This will spread the bacteria (Lactobacillus, Bifidus, and other bacteria, depending on your source) throughout the milk and allow it to start to grow.

Pour your yogurt and milk mixture into the cups, do not cover them.

Put all the containers into the cooler, along with the containers full of hot water from the tap. The heat from those containers will keep the yogurt cups warm and start the culturing process. The heat should be maintained and stable throughout the process, so try to avoid opening the container at all until the end of the process. The fermentation takes approx. 8 hours. You may need to quickly refresh your hot water in the cooler about midway to ensure it stays warm. Just be quick about it, and try not to disturb the yogurt too much to ensure a good set.

After about 6-8 hours (or a bit longer, if the temperature in your cooler is below 100F, the yogurt should be firm. Test by gently turning it to see if it keeps its shape.

There will be some slightly yellowish, liquid on the top. This is whey. You can either pour it off, or just mix it into the yogurt when you eat it.

Cap or cover your yogurt and put them into your refrigerator. They'll last about 2 weeks give or take.

If you want to use one of these yogurts as a starter for your next batch, use the yogurt within 5-7 days, or else freeze some of the fresh yogurt, and let it thaw before using it to inoculate the sterilized milk.

If you like thick, Greek yogurt, which is strained, you can use a coffee filter to strain the resulting yogurt to drain away the excess whey and leave you with a much thicker product. The longer you strain it, the more it becomes almost like sour cream in consistency.

If you don't want to use a cooler, there are a few incubators you can buy to maintain the right temperature during the fermentation process. I have seen yogurt makers at the second hand stores or a couple of the best are available from Amazon. Have fun!

Walking Journal cont...

oct 24
Day 12
We had to go to Kalispell; the next town over from libby. Kalispell is about 97 miles away and that is where we go for dr. and dentist appointments. cooper had a dentist appointment. Whenever someone has an appt. we make a day of it. We shop at Costco, and all the other big stores because libby doesn’t have any of those. We eat at our favorite restaurant, Famous Dave’s barbeque joint! Mmmm good, love that barbeque! Most importantly we walk, and we walk, and we walk until you think your feet will fall off! We left home at 9 am and we got home at 8 pm so I’m not kidding about making a day of it.
Oct. 25
Day 13
I took a day off, my feet are sore from yesterday, lol. I will hit it tomorrow!

Oct 26
Day 14
Coop and I hit the pond trail again, we did a brisk 25 minutes! I felt really good, and think I could have done more, so I will be adding another 5 minutes on tomorrow. Whoo hoo that will be 30 minutes, I am feeling really good about that! I am almost completely well now too, I only coughed a little bit today and didn’t get breathless very many times. Yay! I am better! I did bring the camera but there were no great pictures today. It was cold out too! It was About 39 degrees today for our walk. We decided we need to bring gloves tomorrow!

Oct. 27
Day 15
I walked a new trail today. It was a bit tougher; a slight uphill grade, lol! I was going to add 5 minutes to make it 30 minutes, but I petered out and stopped at 27 minutes, Dang! I will get that 30 minutes tomorrow. It was a brisk 37 degrees again, but the sun was shining and it was very pretty. This trail runs along a gently burbling creek. It isn’t as nice as the pond, but it is okay.


  1. Love your posts! I've never considered making yogurt myself, but you've outlined it beautifully!

  2. wow, ambitious I say. I don't know if I would ever try that...but I bet it tastes awesome.

  3. That's cool. I've not seen a yogurt maker before. I remember a long time ago my mom making yogurt with a food dehydrator. Looks like a similar process. I eat yogurt everyday and can't believe the prices. Seems like they go up every month. That's for the recipe and idea. I'll check it out and will be asking Santa for a yogurt maker for sure.