Thursday, March 10, 2011

Homemade Yogurt

I was just finishing my snack of yogurt, and that reminded me that I had wanted to post the recipe that I use to make my own yogurt.  Some of you have been asking how I do it, so here it is!

I have loved yogurt since I was little, and have always bought the little containers of it, but that gets expensive and also, even though I recycle the containers, and even if I use the big containers so there are less, I feel like it is so much waste in all that plastic!  This yogurt is so good and creamy and doesn't have all the artificial sweeteners in it that the store bought kind can have. 

Here's how I do it:

All you really need are a few simple tools and ingredients.

Slow cooker
Half gallon (1.89L) of milk (I use organic skim for my yogurt and organic whole milk for the little guys.  You can use pasteurized and homogenized, but not ultra pasteurized)
1/2 c plain yogurt live/active cultures (Once you have made this once, you can use the last of the previous batch to make the next...if you remember not to eat it!  I keep forgetting and then I have to go to the store and get a little container of plain yogurt!

 Unflavored Gelatin or powdered milk to use a thickener
Bath Towels (to wrap the cooker)
Muslin, coffee filters, or paper towels to use as a strainer
Large Bowl

Total time for this is about 14-15 hours, so plan accordingly so you can have your yogurt ready when you want it and not have to do a step in the middle of the night!

First, you want to use as much milk as you want yogurt.  I usually use half a gallon.

Pour the milk into the crock pot and set the temperature on low.  Let the milk warm for 2.5 hours.  Then, unplug the cooker, leave the top on and let it set for 3 hours.

After 3 hours, take a cup of the warm milk, put it into a large bowl, and whisk in about half a cup of plain yogurt.  This is also the time you add your thickeners.  Like I said before, you can either use powdered dry milk or you can use unflavored gelatin.  I had gelatin on hand, so that is what I have been using.  For half a gallon of milk, I use a whole package of the Knox unflavored gelatin, .25 oz (7g). Pour this mixture back into the slow cooker, whisk it in and put the lid back on.

Then, unplug the crock pot and wrap the whole cooker in a few towels to keep it warm.  Our house gets really cold at night, so while I am whisking the milk, I turn the oven on to its lowest setting just to warm it slightly and then turn it off.  I put the wrapped crock of milk in the oven to give it a little warmth boost and also to insulate it even more.  If the milk doesn't stay warm enough long enough, the cultures won't do their thing and you will have very runny yogurt!  Leave the wrapped crock for 8 hours, or overnight.  (Jimmy did the wrap job pictured here...)

After 8 hours, the yogurt will still be a little runny, especially depending on what type of thickener you used and how much.

I take a larger bowl, like this one, which will hold my largest colander and put a small upended cup in the middle to keep the bottom of the colander from sitting on the bottom of the bowl.

Then I line a colander with muslin (or you can use paper towels or coffee filters, but I find them much more difficult to handle and the yogurt can stick to them after you have strained it.)  Let the yogurt strain for 2-3 hours or until it gets as thick as you want it.  You can actually make yogurt cheese if you let it strain long enough and let it get thick enough, or, if you let it get thick, but not that thick, you can use it as sour cream, too.

And there you go!  You have yourself some fresh yogurt.  The stuff that gets strained out is the whey.  Don't throw that away!  If you let your yogurt strain too long and it gets too thick, you can add some of the whey back in, or you can use the whey in soups, stews, or where ever you would use water or broth in a recipe.  It does not have much of a taste, but it has a lot of nutrients!  I use it a lot in Gabriel's baby food.  I add it to the food processor when I puree his veggies instead of water or add it to food that has been in the fridge and needs a little liquid to thin it down.

Now it's time to flavor your yogurt!  I mixed it here for the baby with some of his pureed peaches and topped it with wheat germ, but you can flavor it or sweeten it however you like.  Honey (not for babies, of course) or agave nectar are good sweeteners if you find that plain fruit just doesn't do it for you, and it's also great with granola.  You can also use instant pudding mix or unsweetened jams or jellies.  My favorite is the Polaner All Fruit.




  1. That sounds seriously complicated....I'm very impressed you do that for must be delicious.

  2. It really isn't complicated! I didn't mean to make it seem that way!