Homemade Yogurt and Yogurt Cheese: Guest Post from Katie

A special thanks to Katie at Kitchen Stewardship for today’s guest post.

eating yogurtBy 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. ;) homemade yogurt with frozen fruit The basic steps of yogurt-making are easier than chocolate chip cookies:

  1. Heat to sterilize the milk. (185 degrees)
  2. Cool milk to proper incubation temperature. (90-120 degrees)
  3. Add starter yogurt.
  4. Incubate at warm temperature 4-24 hours.

Supplies necessary:

  • 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
  • timer

Prep:

  • 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.

Method

    1. Put jars in the pot with a sink washcloth underneath.
    2. Pour milk into your jars to about an inch from the top.
    3. Place jars into the pot and fill pot with tap water around the jars. clip_image002[8]
    4. 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.
    5. Put the pot in the cooler with the towel underneath and the lid on both pot and cooler.
    6. Cool milk. You can do it on the counter, in the garage in winter, or in a sinkful of cold water with ice packs. IMG_7771
    7. 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.
    8. Stir in ~2 Tbs. plain yogurt for each quart of milk.
    9. 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. clip_image002[6]
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. 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:

IMG_6161 Then hang the towel to drain for about 4 hours.IMG_5968That’s how easy it is to get cream cheese in the tea towel (about a cup) and whey in the bowl (about 3 cups). IMG_6175

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.

More Information

Katie new gravatarblogs 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.

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13 Responses to Homemade Yogurt and Yogurt Cheese: Guest Post from Katie
  1. Shawna
    July 20, 2010 | 10:32 am

    I’ve gotten in the habit of eating Greek yogurt, Chobani to be exact, and I don’t like regular yogurt anymore. I like how thick the Greek yogurt is. Is there a way to make this yogurt thicker? Could I drain it like you do the yogurt to make cheese, but just do it for a little less time? My girls love Greek yogurt as well, and we would love to eat more of it, we just can’t afford it! If we could make it, that would be great!

    [Reply]

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Shawna,
    You are exactly right! 30-60 minutes should get you a great Greek yogurt consistency, and you can even use the Greek yogurt you like (if it’s plain) as the starter for the same taste. Hope you enjoy it!
    :) Katie

    [Reply]

  2. Melissa Guziewicz
    July 20, 2010 | 10:33 am

    I’ve wanted to make my own homemade yogurt, and even have contemplated buying a machine, because the machineless instructions always seemed to vague. It was too intimidating. This process is so clearly explained that I can’t wait to try it! Thank you so much!

    [Reply]

  3. Julie
    July 20, 2010 | 11:31 am

    Do I HAVE TO “sterilize” the milk if I’m using fresh raw milk? I don’t want to kill the great things in my raw milk- seems like it would defeat the purpose of making it with raw milk. Any reason I can’t just heat it to the incubation temperature for the same amount of time?

    [Reply]

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Julie,
    No, you can make truly raw yogurt by following similar instructions but just going right to 110 degrees and stirring in a Tbs or so extra starter (needs more to combat the bacteria already in the raw milk). I have not had success with a nice consistency, however, with our raw milk. I’ve tried LOTS of different tweaks, too! I finally just decided I’d pasteurize the milk and just be thankful it’s still organic and grassfed. You can see my raw milk yogurt trials if you like. There are more detailed instructions about the little changes you’ll need to make there. Good luck!
    :) Katie

    [Reply]

  4. Alene
    July 20, 2010 | 12:09 pm

    Katie ~ Love the idea for yogurt “cream cheese”! I’ve been making yogurt for years, starting with store bought milk and now using the milk from our own Nigerian dwarf goats. So yummy!!!

    Julie ~ No, you don’t HAVE TO sterilize (pasteurize) the milk. There is a little more risk of bad bugs that way, but the health benefits are substantial. We are scrupulous about cleanliness in the whole process (animal to finished product) – which is the part we can impact – and trust the Lord with the parts of the process we can’t control. Same way we approach most of life. We maintain the children’s bikes, and require helmet use and adherence to the rules of the road, then leave potholes, errant drivers, and stray dogs in the Father’s hands.

    Of course, I am not a trained anything, so my advice is only my own humble opinion, and anyone who follows it does so at their own risk! :-)

    [Reply]

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Alene,
    You got it! Thanks for the very thoughtful reply. We do have to just trust God with our food sometimes, don’t we?
    :) Katie

    [Reply]

  5. jerilyn
    July 20, 2010 | 1:26 pm

    I’ve made my own yogurt for 2 years now and I love it. I bought a yogurt maker though, which I am grateful for, but a bit more digging would have found me a cheaper method!

    My kids eat it plain (has since we first started food) but I have to have a little bit of honey in mine. Raw honey is good for you– and I’d tell myself that even if it didn’t just to justify the sugar that I eat! ;)

    [Reply]

  6. Mama Mirage
    July 21, 2010 | 12:16 am

    I don’t have a thermometer so I was nervous when I made my first batch of homemade yogurt last week. I didn’t know what 180 degrees looked like on milk so I heated it until it was steaming well, on the verge of simmering but not yet. Then I turned it off and cooled it until it felt like my bath water. I like my baths about 110-115 degrees. My husband thinks I’m trying to boil myself but I just don’t like to be cold! ;) So that’s how I did it without a thermometer.

    That’s interesting to note about the temperature of incubation having an impact on how strongly flavored the yogurt ends up. It makes sense but I hadn’t thought about it. My dad thinks that the kind of yogurt you use for a starter has a significant impact on that as well. I used a vanilla YoBaby to make mine because that’s all I had and the finished result, after 10 hours of incubation, was almost the exact texture and flavor of the YoBaby I cultured it with. I was worried that it not being plain, having sugar and flavor in it, would ruin my batch somehow, but it did not. The resulting yogurt was a big hit with the whole family. We’re used to having it sweetened but me and the kids don’t like the super sweet kinds very much. I actually bought some Activia and couldn’t eat it because it’s so sweet it makes me sick. We’re used to eating YoBaby which has tons less sugar, so it is easy to put half a cup of mt homemade yogurt in a bowl and flavor it with a mere teaspoon of jam and it’s plenty sweet enough. That’s less than we’d have on a slice of toast so I’m happy. ;)

    I have a couple questions. :)
    Why do you put it in the freezer for an hour when you’re done? I’ve never heard of that. Does that kill the cultures in it? Which brings me to my next question- Can you… and if not then why not… can you use your previous batch of yogurt to culture it or do you need to go BUY yogurt to culture it with?

    [Reply]

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Mama Mirage,
    Way to be brave!

    I read the freezer tip somewhere; it’s supposed to help achieve a creamy consistency. Freezing doesn’t kill the bacteria. In fact, you can even freeze the excess yogurt from a store bought container and use it as starter later. Freezing yogurt does mess up the consistency for eating pretty badly, but you can still use it culture more. Which answers your next question – you can (and should) use 2 Tbs from one batch to inoculate the next.

    Good luck refining your yogurt making craft! :) Katie

    [Reply]

  7. Allyson
    July 21, 2010 | 2:09 pm

    Do you need to use a store bought yogurt every time for the “starter” or can you use a portion of the yogurt you made for the next batch’s starter?

    [Reply]

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Allyson,
    You can absolutelly use a few Tbs from the previous batch, unless and until it starts to get to weak and/or runny for whatever reason.
    :) Katie

    [Reply]

  8. ebru
    September 28, 2010 | 11:25 am

    a Turkish way of doing it:

    Boil the milk and wait ’till it is cooled a little bit.
    Warm the oven about 100-135 F and turn it off.

    Pour the milk into glass bowl. Check the milk with your little finger. If you can count ’till 9 when your little finger is in there that means it is ready:) (hey people didn’t have gadgets back then)
    take several spoons of milk into the starter (total should be 3/4 of cup or 1 cup). Pour into the milk bowl from 4 different corners. Place a plate on top of it. Place it in the oven and wrap it quite a bid. 8 hours later, place it into the fridge.

    Enjoy!

    [Reply]

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