Make it Yourself: Yogurt

Who would have thought homemade yogurt could be so easy and yet so yummy! Making homemade yogurt is not only frugal, but you get to control all that is added to your final product. Unfortunately, most store bought yogurts are loaded with sugar and preservatives.

I started out using the standard recommendation of heating the milk to between 120-180 degrees, but have soon discovered that this is basically pasteurizing the milk and kills a lot of the nutritional value in milk. I use raw milk from a local farmer because all the nutrients are intact (why raw milk, read here).

The problem is if you don’t heat it up, the resulting yogurt is of a different consistency, more runny and wet, a different fermented produce. Now I have come to the understanding that you can make raw milk yogurt successfully without heating to such high temperatures. The key: non-instant milk powder or gelatin! This stabilizes it and makes a nice firm yogurt. If you are not able to get raw milk, pasteurized milk will still produce a very valuable yogurt as well, you will just have to heat to 120-180 degrees before cooling to 110 degrees and proceeding with recipe. It will still be more beneficial than store bought yogurts!

Read more on heating raw milk for yogurt here.

Benefits of Yogurt

Of all the cultured dairy products, yogurt is the most versatile. Yogurt assists the intestines in destroying harmful bacteria by producing an acid environment. Yogurt with active cultures may encourage friendly bacteria production in the digestive tract. Milk protein is more quickly and easily digested in yogurt form over liquid sweet milk. The more tart the yogurt, the greater the absorption of calcium. Eating yogurt can relieve both constipation and indigestion.

Supplies needed:

quart size glass jar
candy thermometer
1 quart fresh milk, raw
2 Tbsp non-instant milk powder or 2 tsp gelatin
2 Tbsp yogurt starter, from previous batch or quality plain yogurt
2 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
Large pot
Heating pad

Steps for Making Raw Milk Yogurt

1. Make sure you have clean equipment

2. Keep equipment hot. Fill a kettle with water to boil. You will want to fill a quart size jar with this hot water to keep all your incubating tools warm. Also fill a large pot with this hot water, as this will be your incubating station.

2. Use very fresh, high quality unprocessed milk and heat over low heat to 110 degrees. If not available, use pasteurized but non-homogenized milk and heat to between 120-150 degrees and then cool to 110 degrees.

3. Remove from heat and add non-instant milk powder or gelatin, sweetener (if desired), and yogurt starter. Since the curd of unheated yogurt is very fragile, I add some milk powder to make a thicker yogurt, otherwise it will be very thin. Stir gently into milk. I normally sweetener after incubating, so as to have a bit of plain yogurt to start the next batch.

4. Empty clean glass jar of hot water and pour yogurt into jar and cover loosely with lid.

5. Remove to a warm place to culture for 10 – 12 hours, or until set. I use a large pot and fill half way up the jar with water (110 degrees). Using a hot pad underneath helps to maintain this temperature, otherwise you will need to keep replacing hot water. Cover entirely with dish towels or a large bath towel. You can also use a yogurt maker, thermos, crockpot (over low) or dehydrator. I start mine in the morning and let incubate all day, or start at night and let it incubate overnight.

6. Check every few hours till it is firm. Remove to refrigerator and allow to cool for about 3 hours before diving in and enjoying! It will thicken more as it cools. There is no end to the toppings you can throw in. Try cut up fruit or nuts, flax seeds and the like.

7. Take out 2 Tbsp for your next batch! Use starter within a week for your next batch for best results.

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

45 Responses to Make it Yourself: Yogurt

  1. Sau Conaghan August 27, 2012 at 3:02 am #

    Hey, I think your blog may be having browser compatibility issues. After I take a look at your internetsite in Chrome, it looks positive however when opening in Web Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just needed to present you a fast heads up! Other then that, terrific blog!

  2. Angie March 17, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    Is the gelatin hydrolyzed or non-hydrolyzed?

  3. Data Recovery : October 26, 2010 at 4:59 am #

    i very much prefer bath towels that are made of cotton or polyester, they are very soft and easy to dry,:”

  4. Jamie Cummins October 23, 2010 at 7:05 am #

    I just made yogurt using my cooler and other jars filled with warm water. I realized I did use instant dry milk. Will my yogurt still be ok? I also was wondering if home-made yogurt had the acidophilus/bifidus good bacteria in it? What bacteria exactly do we get from raw milk-based yogurt? Does adding the instant dry milk take away from that? I really enjoy your website! I just don’t usually have too much time to comment on things. My sisters and I are telling a lot of people about your website:) You’re a blessing to many:) ONe more question. I have 5 young children, so it seems we have colds a lot! We also have like 20 cousins their age. It seems I always have a lot of mucus in my ears, sinuses and throat. Can too much yeast also be causing this? Just thought I’d ask if you had any input. I double a lot of recipes for bread and pizza. Do I double the amt of yeast, too? I know I have a lot of questions. I’m always learning:)

  5. Lorie September 21, 2010 at 9:08 am #

    The Weston Price link for heating raw milk doesn’t work ;0(

  6. loyda July 3, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

    I came across a GREAT website.. http://www.makeyourownyogurt.com Simple instructions and so easy to follow! I have been using a half gallon of organic milk to make my yogurt. In fact I take it one step further and make greek yogurt by placing your yogurt into a clean towel or cheesecloth and letting it drain for a few hours! Turns out GREAT! I no longer buy any store bought yogurt. The only ingredients it calls for is the milk and a little bit of your previously made yogurt!
    The trick was keeping it warm for the 8-12 hours!

    Good luck!
    Loyda

  7. Anna May 4, 2010 at 8:19 pm #

    I REALLY want to start making yogurt with raw milk but I have some questions I need clarified before get started.

    1) what is non-instant milk powder? is it processed? (I want to stay away from processed foods, hence making my own yogurt). how is it different than instant milk powder?

    2) what is gelatin? I’ve heard of it but I’ve never cooked with it. I’ve always associated it as a processed food. when I want to thicken things I always use arrowroot (but that obviously woulnt’ work here — I’m just explaining why I don’t know about gelatin). please explain!

  8. Nicole March 13, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    Could I use rice, soy, or hemp milk using this recipe? Or does it have to be raw milk? Thanks

    • Lindsay March 14, 2010 at 11:35 am #

      I do not know. I have only heard it done with cow or goat milk, but feel free to experiment.

  9. Jennie October 28, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

    I have been making yogurt for a while, and like you don’t want to heat up my raw milk. But the problem that I have been having is that it is making a terribly SOUR taste. Not the normal tart yogurt taste, but like sour milk. It’s terrible! I’m not really sure what I’m doing wrong. I even got a starter that will set at room temp milk. No heating required once you have the starter. It still makes terribly inedible (in my opinion) yogurt. Do you have any thoughts on this? It is really driving me nuts! My stomach is giving me problems from not eating yogurt regularly anymore because I can’t get it right.

    • Lindsay October 29, 2009 at 9:22 am #

      I honestly have never eaten my yogurt plain. I always add a little honey, maple syrup, stevia and various fruits. Have you tried any additions? My only other thought is that your raw milk may be sour to start with? Or are you letting it sit out too long? With the countertop yogurt it only needs 12 hours at the most.

  10. Trish April 29, 2009 at 1:44 pm #

    I started making my own yogurt a few months ago. I use the recipe from Crockpot364 – http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/you-can-make-yogurt-in-your-crockpot.html
    I am looking forward to adding fruit to my yogurt this summer!

  11. Stephanie March 3, 2009 at 1:45 pm #

    I LOVE your site! You have truly inspired me on healthier cooking and I have learned so many things from you! I have just started soaking my grains and have tried several of your recipes (all are delicious)! I am about to try and make my own yogurt, but have a question… how long does this yogurt last (stay fresh)? How often do you need to make a new batch to keep the starter fresh? Thanks so much!

    • Lindsay March 3, 2009 at 2:32 pm #

      It is recommended to make a new batch every 5 days or so from the previous starter. I usually use the yogurt up within two weeks and have never had a problem, but definitely best to make a new batch within 5 days.

  12. Jill January 1, 2009 at 12:04 pm #

    I have been researching the whole yogurt making process and came across various comments from people that buy acidophilus tablets instead of using plain yogurt or a starter mix. They just crush them right before adding them to the yogurt. Any thoughts on this?

  13. Mrs.Flam December 3, 2008 at 3:25 pm #

    You know , you started me on what will probably be a life long love of yogurt making.

    i recently discovered a super rich yogurt recipie from non fat dry milk i wanted to share

    i found its makes a thick yogurt , and an even thicker store quality cream cheese.

    http://mrsflam.wordpress.com/2008/12/01/new-super-thick-cream-cheese-and-yogurt/

    Thank You again

    • Chickadeemama August 20, 2011 at 10:30 am #

      This link is “no longer available” . . . any ideas?

  14. Gretchen November 24, 2008 at 8:50 am #

    I love homemade yogurt! Another easy way to make your own yogurt is to use a crockpot. I have found this to be easiest for me. I heat up the milk in the crockpot on high for about 1 hour until it reaches 110 degrees. I add in the “starter” from a previous batch and let it sit (crock pot turned off) and covered until it is set (approx. 12 hours).

    • Lynnette December 3, 2008 at 2:44 pm #

      I’d like to try Gretchen’s Crock Pot Yogurt. What are the quantities for milk and starter? And is it powdered or fresh milk?
      Thanks.

      • Gretchen December 5, 2008 at 7:01 am #

        I like to make a big batch using about a half gallon of fresh milk and add 3/4 cup starter to it. I don’t think you would need to use that much starter but the first time I tried it I didn’t use enough starter and it didn’t work. I always error on adding too much now! My intitial starter was Stonyfield’s whole milk yogurt and since then I have used my yogurt from the previous batch. They say that you should use your starter from your homemade yogurt within 10 days but I don’t always do this and have had no problems so far (and I’ve been doing this for several months now).

        • Gretchen December 5, 2008 at 7:04 am #

          One more thing I forgot to add…
          Some of my friends drain some of the whey from the yogurt once it’s ready. Doing this makes a thicker yogurt. My husband and I have decided not to do this for several reasons. 1) It’s an extra step. 2) We already have too much whey and buttermilk to know what to do with. 3) It makes a nice drinkable yogurt. Know that you can make it thicker though by letting some of the whey drain from the yogurt.

          • Rachael February 25, 2009 at 12:29 pm #

            what can you use extra whey for? I make my own yogurt and use a yogurt cheese maker to drain the whey off since I like a nice thick yogurt. I usually throw the whey away.

            Thanks!

            Rachael

          • Lindsay February 25, 2009 at 1:59 pm #

            I would never waste that precious whey! I would use it with soaking my grains and such, but you can also throw it in a smoothie for extra nutrients.

          • Rachael February 26, 2009 at 8:47 am #

            Thanks Lindsay! That is a great idea, I wouldn’t have thought of using to soak my grains. I’ve tried to feed it to my dog because I heard it was good for him, but he won’t drink it! I’m glad I can find other uses for it.

            Take care as you prepare for the birth of that precious baby!

            Rachael

  15. Lori November 6, 2008 at 5:00 am #

    I have used the EasyYo yogurt maker to make yogurt without heating. Don’t worry, I don’t buy the little sachets of mix! (very expensive!) All I do is put the kettle on! As the water is coming to a boil, I put about 100-200ml of starter yogurt in the bottom and fill the rest with fresh milk. Put on the lid. When the water boils, you fill the yogurt maker half way with boiling water, put in the container of yogurt/milk and then put the lid of the yogurt maker on. In about 12 hours you (usually) have yogurt.

    Now, it doesn’t always work for me, but that may be because I’m unable to find raw milk… or because I don’t always manage to use the freshest yogurt/milk.

  16. Sarah October 16, 2008 at 6:50 pm #

    I actually make raw milk yogurt without heating the milk at all first. I take it directly out of the fridge, add starter yogurt and let it incubate for about 12 hours in a cooler with other jars filled with warm water. It turns out pretty thick, but not like custard. I think I will buy some gelatin and try that next time.

  17. Sara M. September 11, 2008 at 9:05 am #

    Have you ever filtered the whey out of the yogurt? I find that helps with the consistency a bit.

    • Lindsay September 11, 2008 at 10:31 am #

      I have only occasionally had excess whey in my yogurt, but only when I either had it incubating at too high a temperature or for too long. Normally it turns out very solid and thus no excess. I think about 8 hrs at 110 degrees has always lead for a successful thick yogurt…you just have to keep an eye on the temperature. I start it in the morning and remove it to the frig before going to bed.

  18. Angie September 4, 2008 at 6:37 am #

    Thanks! Batch #2 turned out perfect! (I also made authentic Isreali hummus and pita bread yesterday, if anyone wants the recipe.) (-:

  19. Angie September 3, 2008 at 7:27 am #

    I made the yogurt last night and it came out perfect on my first try! Your instructions are foolproof. You should title this post “Yogurt Making for Dummies”!

    I did have a question, though…My yogurt did not turn out very sour. It’s a little tart, but not sour like I’ve tasted before with homemade yogurt. Does this mean I did something wrong? (I did not add any sweetener, just the milk, starter, and gelatin.) I used organic Greek yogurt for the starter, do you think that made a difference?

    Anyway, thank you so much, and “YUM”!

    • Lindsay September 3, 2008 at 7:50 am #

      Wonderful! I am so glad your yogurt turned out so well. The level of sourness depends upon how much starter you use and how long it incubates. The more starter you use the more sour it becomes. My yogurt is usually not too sour either while using just two tablespoons of starter. Enjoy!

  20. Aedmonds August 5, 2008 at 3:40 pm #

    Do you make this every week instead of Kefir or do you do both? Just curious. Maybe I’ll have to come watch you at work…I want to try the yogurt. I am a little sick of my kefir coming out nasty.

    • Lindsay August 5, 2008 at 6:26 pm #

      I make both each week (1 quart of each). The yogurt is mainly for Karis, but I sweeten some with vanilla and maple syrup or honey for my consumption. Excellent protein you know!

  21. Eryn July 7, 2008 at 5:01 pm #

    Hey Lindsay, I was reading your yogurt recipe. I’ve been making my own for about 2 months now. I only use it in smoothies, so far, because it’s so tart, my kiddos won’t eat it. I was looking at the recipe for granola you have linked…I read it but couldn’t find a recipe for the 7 grain mix…do you know what that is or how to make it? I’m going to make your yogurt recipe next time, maybe by adding gelatin (also, where do you find the non instant milk powder around here?I’ve only been able to find instant, but I’m not to crazy about using it) I’ll be able to add some sweetener without it being too runny. I’d love any tips you have! Thanks!

    ps, I just made bread using your recipe and it’s SO GOOD. Don’t think I’ll ever use another recipe! Next time I’m going to venture into soaking my grains first:)

    • Lindsay July 7, 2008 at 11:02 pm #

      Eryn, I have modified the granola recipe and just posted it today here. I skipped the 7 grain mix and just increased the oats, and it worked wonderfully.
      As to the yogurt, it is definitely tart, so I add vanilla extract and maple syrup and/or a little stevia to sweeten as desired after it has finished culturing, and not before. I leave out 2 Tbsp plain for the next batch.
      I buy non-instant milk powder from Azure Standard. Instant does not work anyway. The powder will definitely help thicken the yogurt.
      So glad you enjoyed the bread recipe!

  22. RAN June 18, 2008 at 7:50 am #

    I have been making yogurt since my kids were little, and now they are all married, and starting to make yogurt themselves! Much cheaper and tastier than the store bought stuff.

    I have always made mine out of powdered milk. 1 2/3 cup powered milk, enough slightly warm water to almost fill a quart jar, stir to dissolve, then add 1/3 cup store bought yogurt. Let sit in the oven with the light on, for 3-4 hours. Perfect!

    Now I need a bowl of yogurt with homemade granola!! ;)

  23. Michelle Picinich June 17, 2008 at 4:00 pm #

    Hey Lindsay,
    Where do you buy your raw milk? Looking for a local source.

    Thanks.
    Michelle

    • Lindsay June 18, 2008 at 9:10 am #

      I get mine here in Vancouver from Jonathan Killmore. I will e-mail you his number.

      • Katherine March 4, 2009 at 4:45 pm #

        Hi Lindsay, I’m really excited about this recipe…I have the Excalibur dehydrator and I’m going to keep it warm in there. could I also have the number for whoever sells the raw milk? I’ve been interested in finding a source since I read your post on it…

  24. Gretchen June 15, 2008 at 10:13 pm #

    I have always wanted to try this!

  25. Erin Humphrey June 15, 2008 at 1:17 pm #

    I have enjoyed your website very much.I have told all my friends about it.

  26. Shirley Mom of 6 June 14, 2008 at 11:36 pm #

    My Mother in law shared this tip with me re: incubating the yogurt. Just put your yogurt in your oven next to the light with the light on. The heat from the light keeps it at the perfect temp to set up. She often does 4 – 2 qt jars at a time and they turn out perfect!

    I’ve only made yogurt 2 times and both times used the light in my stove. It worked GREAT!!

  27. Candice June 14, 2008 at 4:42 pm #

    Hi Lindsay!

    I just spent the last half hour or so looking over your website and reading different things. I am really impressed with all that you’ve taken the time to write about. Thanks for sharing. I will definitely benefit from your blog as I have the same desires and passions to live simply, eat healthy and desire to learn new things about nutrition. Thanks again for today. It was a blessing. I look forward to getting to know you better:)

  28. Lynda G Key June 14, 2008 at 2:49 pm #

    You Never Cease to wow me with you Informative and caring posts. Thanks YOu
    L

  29. Amy Brigham June 13, 2008 at 8:13 am #

    Yay! I’m soooo excited that you’ve posted this how-to today. I have been wanting to give yogurt making a try, but had yet to find instructions that were not solely for a yogurt maker. A big thank you for sharing this, Lindsay! :o )