I made my own yogurt and you can too!

A few years ago, I gave up on yogurt. Actually I didn’t give up on all yogurt, but mostly on the regular American yogurt. Coming from France, where yogurt is king (or queen, if you’re dairy), it’s been hard to adjust to the reality of American yogurt. I have to admit, the American yogurt aisle has greatly expanded since I moved to the US 20 years ago, but still it bares no comparison to the supermarket double-aisle long displays of yogurt and dairy desserts I grew up with. By the way, did you notice all yogurts seem to be the same here, by the way? Sweetened (with real or fake sugar), 0 or 1% fat, very little protein? Compare one of those nutrition labels to one for plain yogurt and you’ll notice plain is the way to go.

And there lies my problem. Plain yogurt here, unless you want to spend $6 a tub for the expensive (=good) stuff, doesn’t taste good. At all. It’s sour, pasty, not creamy (even the 2%). I think that’s why Greek yogurt is so popular today. It actually tastes great compared to that blah yogurt. So I’ve had a dilemma for years. I love yogurt. Well, good yogurt, that is. But the one at the grocery store is inedible. Oh, what to do? Every year, I’ve considered buying myself a yogurt maker and making my own yogurt. But every time I read reviews, I’ve been disappointed. Either the machine can get too hot and kill the cultures, or it is too cold and takes forever to make yogurt. I couldn’t pick one model without worrying of making the wrong choice.

Lightbulb momentAnd then, a few weeks ago, I had a lightbulb moment. How did people make yogurt before they could buy it at the store, or use a yogurt maker? Humans have been making yogurt for thousands of years. There has to be a better way! And so I googled my way through the history and science of yogurt and discovered that many people out there are making their own yogurt with no fancy yogurt making machines.

So I tried it out the first time. It came out PERFECTLY. Since then, I’ve made more, and it tastes delicious every time. I bought some freezer jam BPA-free cups to use until my yogurt cups arrive from Amazon. The new cups are tall and skinny and they’ll fit in my fridge perfectly.

So, would you like to make your own yogurt too? Here’s my recipe for homemade yogurt. No yogurt maker needed! You can multiply the recipe to get the amount of yogurt you want. 1 cup of milk = 1 cup of yogurt.

Prep time: 30 minutes max

Cooking time: 6 to 10 hours

– 1 cup of milk (1%, 2% or whole)
– 1 tablespoon of store bought yogurt, OR 1 tablespoon of yogurt from the previous batch, OR 1 probiotic pill containing about 3 billion of several types of cultures (the more cultures, the better the taste)
– 1 teaspoon of sugar (optional) – to me, it tastes delicious this way!
– 1 teaspoon of powdered milk (optional)

1) Scold the milk on the stove or in the microwave to reach a temperature of 170 to 180 degrees (about 5 minutes, more if you use more milk). Even if you use pasteurized milk, I recommend you scold it. It helps your yogurt not be runny.
2) Let the milk cool down (about 30 minutes), adding the optional sugar and powdered milk.
3) When the milk reaches 110 degrees, add the yogurt or probiotic pill contents.
4) Pour milk in large container or individual containers. Make sure the containers you use are filled almost to the top.

Pour the milk mixture in the yogurt containers

Pour the milk mixture in the yogurt containers

5) If using small containers, place them in a flat dish so they don’t spill when you move them around.
6) Heat up a microwaveable heating pad in the microwave. You can also use an electric heating pad you can turn on and off. Or you can use a crockpot on low and place your containers in there. Just make sure the milk doesn’t go over 110 degrees.

Use a heating pad to keep your yogurt warm

Use a heating pad to keep your yogurt warm

7) Place heating pad at bottom of the cooler bag. Place yogurt containers on top, then cover with a towel. Seal the cooler bag closed.
8) Place cooler bag by a sunny window or outside in the sun, or a warm place inside. If the inside of the bag feels cool after a few hours, warm up the heating pad again, and seal everything.

Place cooler bag in a warm place

Place cooler bag in a warm place

9) After about 8 hours (more or less), you’ll have yogurt! Refrigerate for a few hours before eating.
10) If you want Greek yogurt, you can strain this yogurt through a cheesecloth for a few hours to separate the whey.

I promise this will be the BEST yogurt you’ll ever eat! Have you tried making your own yogurt before, yogurt maker or not?

Delicious homemade yogurt!

Delicious homemade yogurt!


14 responses to “I made my own yogurt and you can too!

  1. Oh, I miss the yogurt of France, too! It wasn’t until I visited the country as a young adult that I learned to love yogurt. Even the Greek yogurt here doesn’t come close. It’s amazing that you made your own. Even though it doesn’t look that time consuming, I suspect I won’t be that energetic. But it looks yummy!

    • It really takes no time and,energy to do this. I’m glad I tried it and I’m never going back to store bought. My son drinks liquid yogurt, which is very expensive so I bought fruit nectar and I’m going to make homemade yogurt smoothies.

  2. I was thinking of getting an Easiyo to make yoghurt. I wonder how different that is to your method?

    • You still have to scold the milk, cool it down, mix things in, pour in containers and then cook. So you can cook in a yogurt maker or in your homemade version.

      • THanks. It is the scolding that would worry me. Would probably wreck my saucepans.

      • Oh, I know what you mean! I’ve had to scrub many saucepans in my cooking years! I can’t stand scolding or boiling milk on the stove, so this is what I do to make the yogurt. I use a glass bowl and I heat up the milk in the microwave. When it’s hot enough to almost boil, I take it out. Then I take the skin off. Nothing sticks to the bowl and it’s super easy to clean. You’d have to do the same thing if you get a yogurt maker, so I hope the microwave tip helps.

  3. Good for you! It’s great that you figured out how to do it and are so pleased with the results. My mom used to make yogurt ~ mostly coffee flavored. I don’t eat much dairy these days.

  4. We’ve been making our own yogurt for about a year now. Well, by “we” I mean that I don’t do it, my wife does it. It’s really not very hard at all, or at least it doesn’t look hard!

    I used to eat store yogurt every day for breakfast, until my favorite brand started to add gelatin, and then corn syrup, which made me quit for a long time. Liberte yogurt brand is good, but it’s too expensive for us, or maybe we’re just too cheap!

    • When you look at the list of ingredients in yogurt, you know they’re doing something wrong in order to have to add all that stuff to make it look and taste like real yogurt. And yes, “real” yogurt is way too expensive.

      How do your wife make yogurt? Does she use a yogurt maker, or does she do it the old fashioned way?

      • We don’t have a yogurt maker. I think she does the same thing you do except we don’t use the heating pad. She puts the yogurt mixture in a large Pyrex bowl and lets it sit in a warm oven overnight. “Warm” being an oven that had been used to bake chocolate chip cookies. Take the cookies out, turn off the oven, let it cool off for a few minutes then put the bowl with the yogurt in the oven. Then check on it in the morning. It’s not a very controlled way to do it, so a few times it hasn’t worked, but it usually works out well.

      • Yes, I read you could do it that way, but most people leave the light on inside the oven to maintain the warmth overnight. Living in San Diego, I can use the warmth of the sun almost all year round, so I can’t complain!

  5. I am utterly impressed at your yogurt making abilities! Wow! Sadly, my domestic gene was left somewhere and I haven’t been able to find it, so I have to drop big bucks on store bought. I will share this recipe with my husband – he loves cooking! :)

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