A special thanks to Katie at Kitchen Stewardship for today’s guest post.
By making my own yogurt, I save at least $300 a year on just one food item. If your family eats yogurt at all, you’ve got to try this! (Ahem: if you don’t eat yogurt, allow me to introduce you to the health benefits of yogurt. You should be using this food often to nourish your family.)
When I think of all the plastic hitting the landfills, or even the recycle centers, from single serve containers of yogurt, my stomach turns. The expense to have this healthy super food on hand, especially for larger families, can be pretty intense. Even purchasing the 32 oz. tubs could mean $2/day for my little family of 3-and-a-half (the toddler eats…like a toddler…so I count her as half for now).
Beyond saving money, saving the earth, and keeping your family healthy, I’ll save you time. This is the easiest homemade yogurt method ever, especially if you hate dishes.
I make homemade yogurt almost once a week, and it takes me about 17 minutes, split up into four parts. I’m willing to teach you my secret method, but only if you promise to get your kids to eat yogurt with as little sugar as possible. The basic steps of yogurt-making are easier than chocolate chip cookies:
- Heat to sterilize the milk. (185 degrees)
- Cool milk to proper incubation temperature. (90-120 degrees)
- Add starter yogurt.
- Incubate at warm temperature 4-24 hours.
- Glass jars (quart canning jars or empty mayo or spaghetti sauce jars work great)
- Milk (any, from skim to whole)
- Candy thermometer, but I can show you how to do it without one too
- Pot large enough to hold your glass jars
- 2 Tbs of plain yogurt per quart of milk (Buy the freshest yogurt possible at a store and make sure it has “live and active cultures”. I prefer Dannon. I know it has the three top cultures that I’m looking for to help the gut. The little cups are often on sale for 40-50 cents.)
- picnic cooler
- bath/beach towel
- Run jars and lids through the dishwasher to sterilize. Allow them to dry very thoroughly, then cap and store them.
- Get out picnic cooler and clean bath towel.
- Put jars in the pot with a sink washcloth underneath.
- Pour milk into your jars to about an inch from the top.
- Place jars into the pot and fill pot with tap water around the jars.
- Cook on high heat until boiling and get the milk to about 185 (you can’t burn it with this method, so if you forget it for a while, it’s OK!). Turn off the heat and put lids on the jars.
- Put the pot in the cooler with the towel underneath and the lid on both pot and cooler.
- Cool milk. You can do it on the counter, in the garage in winter, or in a sinkful of cold water with ice packs.
- Get milk to about 110 degrees. I know the milk is about ready when I can pick up the jars and hold them without burning my hands.
- Stir in ~2 Tbs. plain yogurt for each quart of milk.
- Get those lids on again and nestle your jars in the cooler. Keep them wrapped in one half of the towel and take the lid off the pot to let the heat out, then close the lid of the cooler to keep the heat in.
- My yogurt jars happily nestled in the cooler, ready to incubate. Before I close the lid, I’ll wrap the towel end from the right around the jars.
- Incubate 4-24 hours. Shorter incubation makes sweeter yogurt, longer is more tart. Also lower incubation temperature makes sweeter yogurt and higher makes more tart. I’ve had good success between 4 and 8 hours.
- When the time is up, put the jars into the freezer for about an hour. Do not stir first. No room in the freezer? They can go right into the fridge.
- That’s it! You have created yogurt!
I know a lot of people make slow cooker yogurt, but I hate dishes so much that washing that big insert just kills me. I’d rather dump the water out of my pot to air dry, put my cooler away and be done.
But Wait! There’s More!
Here’s another trick with your homemade plain yogurt, no matter what method you use. It’s a great money saver, another way to get probiotics into your family’s diet, and so simple I’m almost embarrassed to call it a recipe. Yogurt can be made into yogurt cheese in a few simple steps, and the result is nearly exactly like cream cheese, but at half the price of the best sale you’ll find.
You simply dump the contents of one jar into a tea-towel-lined colander over a bowl:
That was a very quick explanation, so if you’d like more details, you can see how to make yogurt cheese back at Kitchen Stewardship.
- If you’re nervous and would like more detailed instructions for the yogurt, my post on making homemade yogurt leaves out no details.
- What can you do with homemade yogurt? See this list of homemade yogurt recipes
- Here are my top 4 tips for eating less sugar in your yogurt.
- If you make cream cheese, you might wonder: What do you do with whey?
Katie blogs at Kitchen Stewardship, where she offers weekly Monday Missions to help you balance stewardship of God’s gifts of health, earth, time and money. Find practical baby steps, healthy recipes, green living ideas and prayerful encouragement. You can also follow Katie on Twitter.