Easy Homemade Yogurt

yogurt - on a spoon

I bumped into a friend a couple of weeks back. She was asking about my blog, and specifically about Kombucha. This led to a quick discussion on fermented foods and their health benefits. She proceeded to tell me that she’s been making yogurt lately, (which is really just fermented milk), using a recipe she got from her mom.

She recounted the days that, as a young girl, she watched her mom make yogurt in their kitchen. A cup of milk, a sprinkle of sugar, and several spoonfuls of yogurt to inoculate the milk was all the ingredients she used. A simple pot, a wooden spoon, and an oven were the only tools necessary. I got excited listening to her describe the process. Yogurt has always been one of those foods that seemed too complicated to make at home. But this yogurt recipe sounded so easy!

yogurt - thickened in the pot

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a girl of practicalities. When it comes to my kitchen, I prefer tools that have multiple uses; tools that I am familiar with, that fit comfortably in my hand. So when it comes to recipes, the same holds true. I prefer straight forward food with simple ingredients. I tend to avoid making foods which require special tools, and with few exceptions, special ingredients.

This sounded too good to be true. I messaged her that evening and asked her for the recipe. Homemade yogurt was something I was going to try! And I already had all of the ingredients on hand.

I searched the internet, reading many blogger’s recipes and experiences making yogurt. But I kept coming back to the recipe I had received from my friend: “Bring the milk to almost a boil, and just before it bubbles over, take it off the heat and cool to a temperature that you can stir with your finger.” This reads like a recipe my grandma would have written (and anyone who knows me also knows I love almost anything, from dishes to recipe books to doilies, that comes out of a granny’s kitchen!).

Since experimenting with this easy yogurt recipe, I have come across a most wonderful artisanal dairy. They sell non-homogenized whole milk from pastured cows. It is called The Farmhouse, and besides milk, they make an incredible variety of cow’s milk and goat’s milk cheeses. The batch of yogurt I made just was with The Farmhouse’s decadently creamy milk and the results were nothing less than amazing. (If you’re looking to get your hands on this milk a little closer to home, Lepp’ Farm Market  also carries it.)

yogurt - nice and thick

Easy Homemade Yogurt

(Modified from my friend’s mom’s recipe)

Makes approximately one quart (1 litre)

Ingredients

4 cups 2% or whole (3.25%) milk

1/2 cup store bought (or homemade) yogurt with active bacterial cultures (I used Olympic Organic brand), either plain or sweetened works

1/4 cup cane sugar (organic, if possible)

yogurt - in the jars

Instructions

1. Add milk and sugar to a dutch oven pot and heat over medium high heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

2. Heat until milk is just below the boiling point (approx. 15 min.), and do not stir. Milk will be simmering and bubbling under the surface, but take care because once it comes to a true boil, it will boil right out of the pot.

3. Immediately take pot off the heat, and allow it to cool to luke-warm temperature (“so that you can stir it with your finger”); it should be warmer than room temperature.

4. In a measuring cup or bowl, measure out the yogurt, and then mix in some of the warm milk to thin it out. Stir this yogurt mixture into the milk.

5. Turn on the oven and preheat to 200 F degrees (for a minute or two). Turn the oven off, and place the dutch oven pot, with a lid, inside the oven. (Alternately, you can place the pot in the oven with the oven light on – no preheating necessary. The heat from the light will keep it warm enough.)

6. Allow mixture to sit for six to eight hours (or overnight). Check to see that the yogurt has thickened up. In the case that it doesn’t thicken in this time (which happened to me the first time I made it) preheat the oven for another minute, and leave pot in for two more hours. It should thicken up just fine.

7. Place yogurt into glass jars, and store in the refrigerator. The yogurt will keep for three-four weeks unopened. Once opened, it will keep for approximately one week.

Have you made yogurt before? What has your experience been like?

 

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2 thoughts on “Easy Homemade Yogurt

  1. I have made a lot of yogourt over the years – it really is easy and saves accumulating all those plastic containers when you buy it. I have never used sugar. Does this help the fermenting process? Does it make it sweet, or does all the sugar get consumed in the process? I have sometimes added milk powder to it after heating, which thickens it up a bit. I also strain off any whey on the top to keep the yogurt as thick as possible and then use that whey either as a starter or in baking.

    • Hi Hilda. I’m not sure if the sugar helps with the fermenting process. I do know that the yogurt comes out very thick with both 2% or whole, so maybe the sugar feeds the bacteria in the process. I’ll have to look into that.
      As far as the sugar content goes, the average 1/2 cup serving of flavored yogurt has between 18-28 grams of sugar, whereas this recipe only has 6 grams. I like to stir in a little vanilla once the yogurt is ready. I find it’s the perfect balance of tart sweet.

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