Homemade Buttermilk and Yogurt

Here are three quick and easy ways to save money on your dairy expenses without cutting your usage.

Make your own buttermilk.

You will need some buttermilk to use as a starter. We just buy the smallest sized, most natural buttermilk from the grocery. Pour about 1/4 – 1/2 cup buttermilk into a quart size canning jar (or whatever container you wish to use). Fill the rest of the jar with milk and shake. Now set it on the counter and whenever you go into the kitchen give it a shake.

Let it sit out on the counter for…. well until it starts to glop up like buttermilk and smells nice and buttermilk-y. I have read that it can take up to 24 hours or so, but for me it is usually done within 12.

Store in the refrigerator and be sure to save some to start the next batch.

Make your own yogurt.

You will also need a starter for this. We use Stoneyfield Whole Milk Organic or Dannon All Natural, plain, unflavored yogurt. Set the yogurt in a glass bowl, covered, on the counter so that it can come up to room temperature. (You will need 1.5 T per quart of yogurt.)

I usually make a gallon of yogurt at a time because it will keep nicely for about a month and since we can make it inexpensively we eat yogurt.

Heat however many quarts of milk that you want to make into yogurt to 180F. I use powdered milk to make all of our yogurt (I can’t tell a difference in taste) and when I mix it up I add an extra cup of powder per gallon of milk. Heat slowly to attempt to avoid scorching.

Remove from heat and let cool, stirring occasionally, to about 115F. While the milk is cooling prepare your quart jars. Make sure they are clean and dry, you don’t want any competing bacteria. Yuck!

Turn on your oven light while your milk is still cooling. You want your oven to be warm, but not over 100F. You can use an oven thermometer if you have one. Temps over 100F are OK, but the yogurt will have a sharper flavor.

Once the milk is cooled to 110-115F, pour some into the starter bowl and whisk, blending well. Then pour that mixture back into the pot with the rest of the milk and whisk thoroughly. You want to be sure the starter gets through all of the milk.

Put the jars in the oven. I set mine on a cookie sheet so the don’t tip as easily.

Let them sit in the oven for 4-6 hours. It may set up more quickly, but the best flavor is achieved if you let it incubate for at least 4 hours. The longer the incubation the more tart the flavor.

I have forgotten and left it in the oven over night. It was still fine, but boy was it strong. Not our favorite yogurt. Yikes!

Take your fresh yogurt out of the oven, and refrigerate. Yum!

Use powdered milk in your cooking.

I use powdered milk in my cooking. While my family does not like the taste of powdered milk for drinking, no one can tell the difference in taste when I cook with it. This is an easy way to save money especially if you buy your powdered milk in bulk.

I’m sure that some of you use healthy raw milk and I know that these recipes would be delicious with that, but we just use regular milk (or powdered milk) from the grocery store.

How do you save money on your grocery budget?

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41 Responses to Homemade Buttermilk and Yogurt
  1. Mom Starr
    March 8, 2009 | 3:04 am

    Hey Kimberly, You have inspired me to try more from scratch. This gives me a chance to teach my daughter more too since we will be learning together. I made my own refried black beans today: DEEE-Licious!! I looked up a recipe for english muffins and will try this soon. Do you ever freeze refried beans? Thanks for being an inspiration but I think I have already told you that! :>) LLS

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  2. Raising Olives
    March 9, 2009 | 5:34 pm

    MomStarr,

    I usually freeze the beans after I have cooked them. Then it is simple to just thaw and re-fry or throw into a soup or casserole.

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  3. Laurel
    March 17, 2009 | 8:42 am

    I’ve often thought about making my own yogurt. I just might have to try this recipe.

    My blog has several posts on saving money at the grocery store. Just check my archives for, “What’s Cooking?”

    We feed our family of 10 (currently at home) for less than $500 / month. And, this includes a very athletic daddy and two athletic high school sons. So, we have some big eaters. πŸ™‚

    Blessings,

    Laurel πŸ™‚
    mama of 13

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    noel Reply:

    Laurel, what is your website. i’m trying to get our budget down too! we only have a family of 5, but it just seems so crazy!
    thanks,
    noel

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Noel. Laurel’s website is I’m “Ghana” Adopt. Sorry for not letting her speak for herself, but I’m not sure she is subscribed to comments on this post.

    [Reply]

  4. Lisa
    May 27, 2009 | 9:52 am

    I also use yogurt in place of buttermilk for baking, I don’t really notice any change in flavor.

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  5. Erica
    June 26, 2009 | 9:17 pm

    I’m glad to see others making homemade yogurt. I don’t heat mine quite as much- as I’m trying to head to all raw yogurt… we get our milk from a local farm who sells raw milk. She makes yogurt there. Hers is raw and “runny”, kind of like drinkable yogurt, not something you could eat from a bowl. Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    Erica,
    Would you mind sharing how you prepare your yogurt? We also purchase raw milk and would be interested in knowing how you fix yours.

    Blessings,
    Kimberly

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  6. ~Brenda
    August 5, 2009 | 2:20 pm

    I make homemade yogurt too, but I have to be a little more precise with the temps. Otherwise, all the lactose will not get eaten up – and I am VERY lactose intolerant. πŸ™‚ Anyway, I use a dehydrator that keeps it at an exact temp, and viola! Perfect yogurt everytime!

    ~Brenda

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  7. Nicole
    September 19, 2009 | 10:48 pm

    Great idea, but we don’t own any quart jars. Would it matter if I put the batch in a glass pyrex/corningware and then divided into resealable containers once cooled?

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    Raising Olives Reply:

    Nicole,

    Using other glass containers would work just as well. Are you talking about the yogurt or buttermilk? The buttermilk would need to be covered, but not the yogurt. πŸ™‚

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  8. Shelly
    September 25, 2009 | 12:11 pm

    I will have to give the buttermilk recipe to my husband as he LOVES the stuff. Me? Not so much. LOL BUT I will have to give the yogurt a try. My kids LOVE yogurt and I do to.

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  9. Ayana
    September 26, 2009 | 10:20 am

    Thanks for posting this information about the buttermilk. I am always going to the store to buy it and I am making some today. My oldest daughter was excited about learning this too.

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  10. Jimmie
    November 10, 2009 | 4:01 am

    I make yogurt too! (I feel like a pioneer at times. LOL)
    As far as saving money, BEANS. I like to add beans to dishes instead of meat. I mean, I reduce the amount of meat and use beans for that instead. Beans are cheaper and also very nutritious.

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  11. Ruth
    November 12, 2009 | 12:35 pm

    So I’m new to all of this, so just in the “oh this is interesting” stage – not yet “tried it” stage. My whole family likes yogurt that is commercially flavored. When do you add flavoring? After this process is done, or during one of the steps? Thanks for your help.

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  12. KIMBERLYB
    January 12, 2010 | 3:14 pm

    I have finally gotten the hang o making yogurt. lol, I use a machine to keep the temp consistant. I do however add 3 tbs of fresh yogurt instead of 1 1/2, I also add a little extra powdered milk to my milk We like our yogurt thick and creamy.The girls told me this time it was the best I ever made and want me to make more this weekend. Kimberly what do you serve yours with esp in winter when berries are scarce?

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    My kids will actually eat it plain. We also top with granola or crumbled granola bars, fruit preserves or jam, real maple sugar or sugar and a bit of vanilla extract.

    I’m having some issues with my comment system. Will you please let me know if you get an email notification of this reply? Thanks!

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  13. Judy
    February 15, 2010 | 6:41 pm

    My family (Finnish) used to make “yogurt” by putting a tablespoon of starter in a bowl (regular sized cereal bowl), filling bowl with raw milk (cream and all), covering with a cloth (the handy dish towel – clean of course!), putting in a warm sheltered place (kitchen counter) and let it sit until the consistency you like is reached. Determine the consistency by jiggling the bowl. The cream rises to the top and becomes hard if left out too long. Somehow this yogurt is more mellow than any I bought until I tried Brown Cow plain yogurt.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    What a neat way to make yogurt. Maybe when we start buying raw milk again…

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    allan Reply:

    we make what we call felia and the same as you. it lasts longer [starter] if you can find milk that’s not pasterized the starter will last longer

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    Michelle Reply:

    Allan,
    My grandmother & mom used to make felia years ago when I was a kid but my mom no longer has the starter. Wondering if might have an idea on where to get it. I hear that it can be dried on a hankerchief & mailed?

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  14. janice
    March 11, 2010 | 11:14 pm

    can you portion the “buttermilk starter” and freeze it so you can pull out when you need to make a new batch?
    thanks

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I don’t know about this one. I know that we do this with Kefir grains, but I’ve never tried it with buttermilk.

    Sorry.

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  15. […] are recipes for some of the staples that our family makes from scratch: buttermilk and yogurt – granola bars – tortillas Veronica’s amazing tortilla recipe at the bottom of […]

  16. […] 1 gallon milk (we used reconstituted powdered milk, but you may use any milk you prefer) 1 pint buttermilk or yogurt (link to my recipes for homemade buttermilk and […]

  17. Sugar Mommy
    May 4, 2010 | 10:59 am

    When you substitute with dry milk, how much do you use? 1:1?

    Enjoying your blog so much!

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I reconstitute the dry milk and yes, use a 1:1 ratio.

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  18. Melissa Guziewicz
    May 24, 2010 | 11:23 am

    I would *really* like to make homemade yogurt as my (semi) large family loves it, and it can be rather expensive. Working with the times/temps scares me a little that I’ll forget a step or something and make a bad product and waste. I’m contemplating buying a machine which will afford me some piece of mind! LOL

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I had a machine for a long time and loved it. As I recall, I still had to heat the milk before putting it in the machine, but I may be wrong. It certainly does make it easier to keep things the right temp afterwards.

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  19. Mama Mirage
    July 15, 2010 | 1:18 am

    I tried this today for the first time! My dad used to make yogurt in a yogurt maker thing but I was never around for the whole process and I have never done it myself.
    I did NOT have a thermometer. I heated the milk until it was steaming well but not yet simmering and then cooled it until it was the temperature I like my bath water. I like nice hot baths and I guessed that I like them about 110 or so since when I am in the tub and baby bathwater thermometer duck falls in there with me it usually tells me my water is 100 degrees when I’m starting to feel like adding more hot, so that’s how I guaged when it was “cool enough” was when it felt good enough to take a milk bath in. πŸ˜‰
    I did not have plain yogurt. I had one cup of Vanilla YoBaby. So I did with what I had. I also used the whole 4oz cup of YoBaby instead of measuring out 1.5 T. I think I was paranoid that it wouldn’t work because I didn’t have unsweetened yogurt or a thermometer.
    Then I was paranoid it would get too sharp because I don’t like my yogurt overly sharp either, but I discovered something. I cured the yogurt for 10 hours and it is the mildest yogurt I have ever tasted. Mildest ever. I then called my dad to tell him I made yogurt and he said he theorizes that I used a mild yogurt as a starter so that’s why mine turned out mild. If I had used a sharper starter it would have made my batch of yogurt turn sharper faster. I’m thinking since I like my yogurt mild, but this was a tad bit TOO mild even for my bland loving tastebuds, that next time I will use YoBaby again but I’ll cure it overnight on purpose to see if I can get a little bit more flavor and also see if it will set up a little more. It set up, just not as firm as storebought yogurt.

    Anyway thank you very much for the recipe. I enjoyed my yogurt adventure today and thought I should stop back here and thank you, and also leave a mention of my discovery about the sharpness of the starter affecting the sharpness of the batch. Also thought for anyone else who doesn’t have a thermometer it might be helpful to know that I didn’t have one either and how I guaged the temperature without it.

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  20. Rachel
    July 17, 2010 | 11:53 pm

    I make my own kefir, but I’ve not tried yogurt. I appreciate the step by step instructions – now it doesn’t seem as scary. πŸ™‚ I’ll have to give it a try!! We get a raw milk delivery Tuesday – so, I’ll see how it goes!

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  21. Bill
    July 23, 2010 | 9:45 pm

    If you have a life-long commitment to making yogurt, the by all means buy a yogurt maker. It makes life a lot simpler and we have made 25 gallons of yogurt thus far with no failures.

    See our website: mryogurt.info

    Bill

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  22. Allyson
    August 4, 2010 | 10:10 pm

    I’ve got tons of milk sitting around so I think I’m going to try this. I do have a question–it might sound silly: Do you cover the jars with their lids in the oven or not?

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I leave the jars uncovered in the oven, but don’t think that it matters.

    [Reply]

  23. […] aside one day during the week to do basic preparation. On that day I boil eggs, prep the veggies, make yogurt, etc. This doesn’t take very long, but ends up saving me a lot of […]

  24. Sarah Demings
    January 25, 2011 | 10:02 am

    Hi! I tried to make yogurt yesterday using your recipe! For some reason it never really thickened. Is there something I can do to thicken it? I let it sit in the oven for a little over 5 hours & then stuck it in the refrigerator. Should I have kept it in the oven longer? I’m learning so much from your website & loving it!!! Thanks for all the work you put into it! I’m envious of your large family (I only have one so far) & hope one day to have one as well! God bless!

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Sarah,

    Sometimes the starter isn’t as strong and the yogurt will take longer to set up, just leave it in the oven longer. I would assume that is what you experienced if it firmed up a bit just not completely.

    Thank you for your words of encouragement. You are the reason that I keep blogging. πŸ™‚

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  25. Dianne
    June 28, 2011 | 7:47 am

    I went to my local grocery store to buy powdered milk to make yogurt and buttermilk and the STORE BRAND was more expensive than regular milk!!! Where do you buy your powdered milk inexpensively? Do you have any other healthy/inexpensive/tasty food ideas?

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    Dianne Reply:

    I am pretty excited! I answered my own question about buying cheap powdered milk. At first I thought I was doing the math wrong as I couldn’t believe powdered milk was as expensive as regular, but I researched it and found out powdered milk has gone up because of some unique reasons (research it). Anyway, what I decided to do after researching it, is to water down my regular store bought milk, half and half, to make yogurt and buttermilk and watering down our raw milk little by little until everyone gets used to it so everyone can have it! Yes!!! I’ll re-post and let everyone know how the yogurt/ buttermilk turns out with watered-down milk.

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  26. Melanie Grant
    September 16, 2011 | 9:20 am

    What do you add to your yoghurt for your children. My kids love smooth yoghurt which makes it fairly challenging to sweeten with fruit. And honey doesn’t seem to be their favourite. I use yoghurt for lots of other things but I wondered how you encourage your children to eat it raw?

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    My children will actually eat our homemade yogurt plain.

    If we want to sweeten it we like to use grade B maple syrup. We’ve also been known to add a bit of vanilla and sprinkle with evaporated cane juice.

    Topping it with crumbled homemade granola bars adds flavor, but may not be a good fit if your children don’t like any texture.

    Hope that helps.

    [Reply]

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