Believe it or not, making yogurt at home is sooooooo easy and requires no special equipment. All you need is cheese cloth and a thermometer…. and that is it!
There are lots of ways to make homemade yogurt, but the basic concept is the same. Heat milk to the desired temperature, mix in cultures, usually in the form of plain yogurt containing active live cultures like lactobacillus bulgaricus or streptococcus thermophilus. Keep at a steady temperature for a period of 7-12 hours so the bacteria has a chance to eat the sugar found in the milk, called lactose.
As a result the milk will thicken and produce lactic acid. The lactic acid is what preserves the yogurt and gives it the tangy taste. That’s it. You now have yogurt! A creamy tangy yogurt packed with millions of happy, active good bacteria, or probiotics, that help keep the gut happy and healthy.
Good health starts form the inside out!
You can make yogurt out of regular store bought pasteurized milk, organic milk, raw milk or even goats milk. Pasteurized milk, the kind you find at the grocery store, is basically milk that has been heated up to 180 F in order to slow the growth of bacteria in milk, which lengthens its shelf life. While this does make it safer by lowering the risk of harmful bacteria, there is growing research that shows that pasteurization changes the chemistry of milk and makes it less digestible.
I prefer making yogurt out of RAW, Unpasteurized milk– basically fresh milk, strait from the cow, that hasn’t been treated or heated. If you are curious about the benefits and risks of raw milk, here are a couple of websites that will explain both. Please do a little research and make an educated decision for yourself and family. Look at this and this.
The first step is to heat 2 quarts milk to desired temperature on the stove top. Here I am using Cable Creek Farm’s fresh raw milk, so I will only heat 110 F to keep the good bacteria that is already in the milk alive.
Otherwise, when using pasteurized milk, you would normally heat to 180F. If you are leery, or this is your first time making yogurt, just heat it to 180F. You will feel more confident about the whole process.
Add 3-4 Tablespoons yogurt with live cultures. When you add yogurt, make sure to cool the milk down to 110 F. Otherwise you will kill the cultures.You can use any grocery store plain yogurt, or some of your own homemade yogurt. Don’t be tempted to add more than 3-4 T yogurt, or your yogurt may end up sour and runny.
Place in a barely warm oven for 8 hours. You want to keep the temperature steady between 100-110F. I preheat oven on lowest setting for 5 minutes and then turn it off, but leave the light on. I wrap the dutch oven in a towel. In my gas oven, this works, and light and pilot keeps it warm enough. But it may not be warm enough in all ovens. There are many other ways to keep yogurt at a steady temperature like using a heating pad or dehydrator.
After 8 hours, strain with a few layers of cheese cloth.
How to Make Homemade Yogurt
A simple guide to making Homemade yogurt from scratch!
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 8 hours
- Total Time: 8 hours 10 mins
- Yield: 3 cups
- ½ gallon raw organic milk
- 3-4 T unsweetened yogurt from the grocery store with active live cultures ( or yogurt from a previous batch)
- Cheese cloth
- Turn oven on lowest setting for 10 minutes. Turn off, but leave light on.
- Heat milk gently in a pot on the stove. If you want all the benefits of raw milk yogurt, remember to heat milk only to 110 degrees and no higher. This ensures that milks own bacteria will stay alive. Or if unsure, heat to 180F . ( please see notes)
- Add 3-4 tablespoons yogurt. ( The general rule is 2 tablespoons yogurt per quart of milk) Resist the temptation to add more, or you will end up with yogurt that is watery and sour. Cover, wrap in a towel and place in the oven with the light on, or the oven on the lowest setting for short periods of time. The light will act as an incubator.
- You could also place on a heating pad on lowest setting. The idea is to keep yogurt at a steady warmth ( 100F-110F) for a period of 8 hours. If it gets too warm, it will curdle.
- After 8 hours, strain with a cheese cloth. Store in air tight container in the fridge. Once cooled it is ready to eat.
- If you like sweetened yogurt mix in honey, vanilla, maple, or agave.
- I prefer to sweeten yogurt in smaller batches, keeping my main batch, plain.
NOTES: Making yogurt from unpasteurized raw fresh milk is full of nutritious enzymes, fat soluble vitamins and linoleic acid. If you want all the benefits of raw milk yogurt, heat the milk only to 110 degrees- which will keep these enzymes alive.
IF using pasteurized milk, heat to 180F. OR If you are nervous about the process, or this is your first time making yogurt, just heat it to 180F. You will feel more confident about the whole process and when you get more comfortable you can try this with the lower heat.