Making Homemade Yogurt
*Updated with simpler method and an option to make Greek yogurt
I’ve been wanting to make homemade yogurt for a long time but held back for several reasons.
I didn’t think I had enough time. I didn’t think I had the right equipment. I didn’t think it would turn out right because it would be too runny. I didn’t know what incubation meant.
But then I was over at a friend’s house recently and she had just made some. She said it wasn’t that difficult really and that her family saves a ton of money by making their own. That gave me the push I needed to give it a try at last.
It can be a bit overwhelming trying to figure out the best way to make it if you just google instructions. People make it in their crockpot, instant pot, in specific yogurt makers, etc. But I’m so happy with this simple method that I found on The Prairie Homestead.
Total bonus that I had all necessary equipment on hand like my trust Mason jars!!! All I needed was to buy a gallon of milk.
So here is what you need for supplies:
Large pot – big enough for 2 or 4 jars
Quart-sized Mason jars and lids
Small Cooler or oven with a light
And this is all you need for ingredients:
- Gallon of whole milk (there are many opinions on what type of milk to use, but I did plain old whole milk from the store)
- 2 Tablespoons of plain yogurt with live cultures per jar (so 4 to 8 tablespoons total)
Now for the instructions:
Fill your jars (however many you want) with milk. Leave about 2 inches of space at the top.
Put your jars in your large pot and fill the pot with water…about ¾ of the way up the side of your jars.
Place the pot on the stove and bring the water to a boil. Let the jars simmer in the water until the milk inside reaches 180-185 degrees F.
Ever so carefully, remove the hot jars from the water and let them cool down to 110-120 degrees F. I just let them sit on the counter and tested them with the thermometer periodically to determine their temperature.
Once the jars have cooled, stir in 2 tablespoons of the yogurt into each jar with a non-metal utensil. It is important that your jars have cooled so that you don’t kill your live yogurt cultures as you mix the yogurt in.
Now begins the incubation process. The yogurt needs to stay at 110-120 degrees F while it incubates. Place your jars in a small cooler and fill it up with warm water (about ¾ up the jars). My tap water was right around 115 degrees, but test yours to see. Or, a method I've used lately that is much simpler is to place the jars in the oven close to the oven light with the light on (not the oven). Leave the jars in the oven over night. Just remember not to turn the oven on and cook the yogurt!
If you're using the cooler method, allow the yogurt jars to sit in the cooler of warm water for 8-12 hours. You may need to replace the water a few times to keep the temperature maintained and consistent. The longer the yogurt sits, the tangier the yogurt will get.
For either method, once you have completed this process, remove the jars and put them in the fridge. Allow the yogurt to cool completely before eating. It will thicken even more as it cools.
And that’s it! So simple with most supplies you probably already have at home even. The most difficult part for me was having a block of time to consistently check on it when I used the cooler method (the oven method takes care of this issue), but with planning you can make that work!
I may experiment with flavorings in the future, but for now, I was happy with my first plain old batch. Our kids will sweeten it with some raw honey or maple syrup when they eat it.
No added sugar, good protein and lots of healthy probiotics that can’t be beat!!! So glad I finally tried it and look forward to doing more!
You can also make this a thicker Greek yogurt by doing one more step. Place a cheesecloth (like this) over a colander over top of a bowl. Empty the jars into the cheesecloth covered colander and place it in the fridge. The whey will drain into the bowl leaving you with thicker Greek yogurt that is so creamy and yummy. It looks like this:
Then you can use the whey in many recipes that call for water. For example, we use it in sour dough bread to add a bit more nutrients and vitamins such as calcium, phosphorus and B vitamins.
The whey is amazingly bright and sunny colored and usually and looks like this:
Now in 2023 with life changes we've experienced and needing to be more budget conscious, making yogurt has been more budget friendly as we use it in smoothies, pancakes, muffins, popsicles, yogurt bark and so much more. It's a great process for the kids to see and learn about and truly very easy!
Let us know if you try it or message us if you have any questions!