Cooking From Every Angle

Homemade Yogurt

March 1, 2011 • 54 Comments

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Yogurt

- Merrill

A few weeks ago, Amanda and I met up with Mireille Guiliano, the author of Why French Women Don’t Get Fat. Over lunch, we chatted about everything from being the CEO of a large company to Magnolia Bakery cupcakes. Mireille also told us about her yogurt maker, which she turns to on a weekly basis instead of buying yogurt at the supermarket. Listening to her rave about how easy her yogurt maker is to use, and how well it works, I began to think that this was something I might like to have around the kitchen.

So, I asked for this yogurt maker from my husband for Valentine’s Day. (Super romantic, right?) And, because he's a wonderful, thoughtful husband, he got it for me -- along with a few packets of yogurt starter. Sigh.

The contraption is hardly a feat of high technology -- it consists of a base, a plastic cover and a simple heating mechanism, and it comes with 7 lidded glass yogurt jars -- but it fits easily on my counter and does the job of evenly and gently heating the yogurt for a sustained period of time (mine has an automatic shut-off timer, but you may want to opt for this simpler version if you’re better at keeping track of time than I am).

The manual provides basic instructions and proportions for a few types of yogurt (plain, with jam, with syrup, etc.), and it’s easy to use these as a jumping off point for other recipes. I tested out my yogurt maker for the first time last week, whipping up a few jars of plain, a few flavored with honey and vanilla, and a couple infused with espresso.

I sweetened the vanilla and espresso yogurt lightly; feel free to adjust the sweetness to your taste. And I used organic 2% milk. The yogurt had great flavor, with a nice delicate tang, but there was a little more whey swimming around the edges than I might have liked, and the texture, while smooth, could have been a bit creamier. I'd go with whole milk next time.

All in all, I'm converted. The yogurt base is easy and quick to make, and eating your own homemade yogurt out of little glass pots feels so very French. Plus, the yogurt really is good, and the flavor possibilities are endless. If you don’t have --or don't want to invest in -- a yogurt maker of your own, here is a great resource for making homemade yogurt without any extra equipment.

Homemade Yogurt

Makes seven 6-ounce jars

  • 9 cups (40 ounces) milk (you can use low fat or skim, but I recommend organic whole milk for the best results)
  • 1 tablespoon starter or 1/2 cup yogurt with active live cultures

Jump to Comments (54)

Comments (54)

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about 1 month ago william_huebl

I make a gallon at a time in 4 quart jars with my yogurt maker which I have adapted to the larger jars by placing a large towel over the top because with the larger jars, the top doesn't reach the base. I don't worry about bad bacteria because everything is sterilized first. Heating the milk or other dairy to 190F gets rid of any stray backteria from that souce. A good place to learn about alternatives to machine yogurt makers can be found here - thefrugalgirl.com/2009/10/how-to-make-homemade-yogurt-2/ you will need to copy and pasted that link into your browser.

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about 1 month ago ginam

Ok...hoping someone still sees comments on this thread. I continue to use my lovely Donvier machine, but now my family really likes to eat yogurt every day. I'm grateful, but find that the 8 little cups don't last long among 3 of us, so I'm making it frequently. Any ideas for bigger batches? Here's the catch: I live in Northern Japan in a house with questionably climate control. Oven can't be counted on to keep an even temperature either, and I don't know about my crock pot because most of my electronic equipment (including my current yogurt maker, which is surviving somehow) are on US electricity standards (120), but our Japanese electricity comes in at 100. Any and all suggestions are welcome. I'd be glad to forgo the equipment IF I could guarantee the safety of my family. All of these microbes/bacteria growing at a random temperature with my help make me nervous if I can't control anything. Any ideas? Currently, I'm making a new batch about every 3 days. Thanks!

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about 1 month ago deanna1001

If you can find a heating pad that works on your current, it's easy. In a pot with a well fitting lid, bring however much milk you want up to 188º (or thereabouts). Cool to 110º (either fast by putting the pot in a sink full of cold water, or just let it come to lower temperature naturally). Put 1-2 tbs. of yogurt into the warm milk and whisk until incorporated. Lid pot and place on heating pad set at medium for approximately 7 hours or until set. Hope this helps.

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about 1 month ago deanna1001

Oops - meant to say 1-2 tbs per quart of milk...

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about 1 month ago mosteff

I have another variation: Bring milk almost to boiling on stove top, cool to 112 (or my Turkish friend would stick her finger tip in and announce that when was just warm enough not to burn her finger, and that worked too somehow). Then add powdered culture or a few spoons of yogurt in and mix well (I usually added milk a few teaspoons at a time to the yogurt until it was "dissolved" then I'd dump that in the bigger pot). Then you can add the milk to bigger jars or even a larger earthenware pot and cover with a cloth and plate. Then I'd do one of two things which both worked: put it on the hot water heater if it is one of the old school kind, OR put the oven light on and put the jars or pot right up against it and leave it there for 6 or 7 hours. Make sure oven isn't cold inside first (keep it on "warm" setting or warm it up if you have to). Any place in your house that is consistently warm will work (like deanna1001's heating pad). Good luck!!

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about 1 year ago Mary Ellen Segraves

Hi, I have been making yogurt in a 2-quart electric device, rather than the small individual cups. It's available from King Arthur Flour. Then I use their "Greek Yogurt Maker" to strain off most of the whey. I use 2% milk, and the result is thick and creamy (and much less expensive than store-bought greek yogurt). You can strain it with a cheesecloth bag,too, but it's a bit messy. Here are the links for the King Arthur products: http://www.kingarthurflour...
http://www.kingarthurflour...

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about 1 year ago deanna1001

You can strain it through a cotton handkerchief lining a mesh strainer - costs even less.

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over 3 years ago Xiang

Hello, coming in late to your discussion but appreciate the information. Just returning from extended China visit where fresh yogurt is plenitful on the street in earthen jars and more sweet than in the states. I found more drinkable yogurts than those used with a spoon and became very accustomed to it.

What is your opinion on the element of sweet/tart instead of just tart? What might I do to imitate the creamy sweet/tart variety without adding sugar? The French also have a more sweet variety and I miss it....

Kumar_ajay

over 3 years ago akuma01

Easy Recipe but Still needs attention to check temperature
Warm milk in a pyrex bowl in microwave till it above 185degrees (per alton brown). Cool milk to 112-117 degrees and use yogurt cultures (2 tbsp per quart of milk) and place in a warm oven after you have cooked your dinner or with the oven light on overnight. The yogurt should be ready in the morning but needs to be cooled prior to eating. I do transfer milk to a stainless steel bowl with a tight lid to avoid getting off flavors from referigerator. May be able to use your yogurt for cultures for next 3-4 batches although my yogurt sometimes is slimy if I keep using my cultures. Dannon works best for cultures and did not have good luck with stony....I try to avoid powdered milk as it may leave a grainy texture unless you strain it, not worth the extra work to me.
You already perform the work of heating and cooling the milk, so the extra expense and buying another gadget to occupy the kitchen counter whose only purpose is to keep milk warm is not worth it. This task can be easily and cheaply performed in the oven, heating blanket, etc.

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over 3 years ago infojules

I do better with non-cow dairy and have been wondering how to make with goat's milk. I'm guessing there isn't that much difference in the technique, but I'd love to see your recipe too!

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over 3 years ago infojules

(I meant this in response to Minimally Invasive's comment below!)

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over 3 years ago GoodFoodie

Big Thanks to ChrisBird for th Qwark recipe. After living in Germany, we came to love it. But it is outrageously expensive here. I couldn't figure out how it differed from yogurt. It's the buttermilk!

I make yogurt weekly. Ditched the machine with those little containers and listened to my Indian friends. Since my oven seems to be on the cold side so I put my jar of yogurt on my water heater to ferment. Perfect!

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over 3 years ago stinkycheese

I've been making my own yogurt for the last several months. I use a heating pad on low. I simply microwave 1 quart of whole organic milk until it's just above body temp (finger test!) -- about 3 minutes. Then I add 2 tbs yogurt, stir, wrap it in a heating pad and go to bed. By morning it's thick and creamy. I don't bother with scalding the milk.

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over 3 years ago stinkycheese

Oops sorry for double post.

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over 3 years ago stinkycheese

I've been making all our yogurt for the last few months. I experimented and found the simplest and best tasting is to just heat 1 quart whole organic milk to just above body temp in the microwave (no scalding), then add 2 tbs yogurt as starter, wrap in heating pad on low and go to bed. This has been foolproof so far. It's thick and creamy in by morning.

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over 3 years ago Panfusine

I've been heating & cooling the milk so far, I shd try this warming technique, thanks!

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over 3 years ago Panfusine

There is a traditional version of sweet Yogurt made in in the indian state of Bengal Called 'Mishti Doi' which is made using Milk & Palm sugar & set in porous earthen ware cups.
the tricky thing is to find the exact culture to use for setting the yogurt. using commercial yogurts ends up kinda slimy! anyone with a helpful suggestion to overcome this please help! thanx!

Noz_photo

over 2 years ago nzle

Hi Panfusine -- my mom has been making yogurt for our family for years and had this advice to give -- I hope it's helpful!:

Using most store bought yogurt for starter, you get a slimy product because of the gelatin/starch in most commercial yogurts. I make my yogurt with the Lifeway brand Kefir drink. It has no starch and the added benefit is that it has 12 active cultures and you end up with a probiotic yogurt. For my later batches, I use my own yogurt and thin it with a little of the warm milk before mixing it in with the milk. Otherwise, the starter rises to the top and forms a somewhat curd-like yogurt on top which is not a problem per se, but thinning the culture produces a more uniform yogurt.

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over 3 years ago mosteff

I've always made yogurt without the equipment (just the thermometer) and put the milk/culture mix in a covered ceramic bowl on top of my boiler, which is in a closet. It is never too hot on the surface of the boiler and it warms the ceramic bowl up just enough. If you set it there in the morning, come home at the end of the day and put in fridge overnight to set, it will be ready for the next morning's breakfast.

Moi

over 3 years ago Sally

I love the 1-quart yogurt maker that I purchased in 2008. I looked up the current price on Amazon and it is now selling for ten times what I paid for it 3 years ago. That's right, ten times!! I could not believe it and went back to check my old Amazon order. So I guess it is now a more popular item than it used to be, and they're capitalizing on that (!)

If I had to buy one today, I would definitely buy Merrill's version because it is just much easier and more consistent to make yogurt with a machine than by wrapping the jars in towels, etc. In addition, if you buy one with an automatic shut off, it makes your life easier.

The method I use yields perfect results, always. I heat the milk to about 180 degrees and let it cool to 112-114 degrees. Then I stir in a little powdered milk (about 1/3 cup for a quart of milk) and the starter. I strain it into a quart jar (sometimes there are little lumps from heating the milk and the powdered milk) and put it in the yogurt maker. Voila! The powdered milk gives the yogurt some body, and it makes it almost as thick as Greek yogurt without the straining. I make it every single week and rarely buy yogurt from the grocery store!

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over 3 years ago jenny_mcchesney

I made yogurt in a Salton yogurt machine in our galley kitchen in college - I liked the simple milk-glass jars it came with, lids and all. Cheap, wholesome, delish - and no carton waste. I am re-convinced I need one, thanks!

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over 3 years ago Elias

I am not sure why you would really need a machine. I have made yogurts all my life and with nothing more than just milk and a started yogurt... I would say in 1 out of 10 I will have a "fix" it by reheating. I tend to like mine thick, so I strain it for a few hours using a cheese cloth afterwards. I find that temperature at which you stir in the yogurt is key... the milk needs to be cool enough (I use what my mother taught me which is: insert your finger slightly in the milk: if you can count till ten then it is cool enough :)

Hib_kitchen

over 3 years ago MyCommunalTable

I was taught how to make yogurt from my Iranian friend and she taught me the exact same way as you. Now I need to make some! Sounds great.

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over 3 years ago anne_shelton_crute

LOVE the finger method for assessing the temp of the milk! Thanks you!

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over 3 years ago ChrisBird

I make a quark (soft fresh German cheese) like product using the same techniques as I do for yogurt. No special equipment needed. The recipe for the quark is here...

http://seabirdskitchen...

just substitur commercial yogurt with live basilli and it works like a champ. In our house we both prefer 2% for this. However when I can get raw milk from the farm, then I use whole milk!

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Cool, thanks for sharing!

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over 3 years ago jenmmcd

I've been tempted by this for a long time (and this is about to push me over the edge), but I've always wondered... If I love greek yogurt and not the "regular" stuff, will I like homeade yogurt?

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over 3 years ago ginam

jenmmcd, I've used grerek yogurt as my starter (it must be plain to be a good starter...no flavorings). You could do this and then strain your homemade yogurt through cheescloth for the consistency you like.

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over 3 years ago chris_coyle

If you're concerned about the texture, when you first heat the milk, add a little powdered milk for more body.

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over 3 years ago jeanmarieok

What Chris_Coyle says - 1/2 cup powdered milk adds more body to the yogurt, and makes it more like Fage Greek yogurt. Also, I don't use a yogurt maker - I use a cooler with mason jars filled with hot tap water, and I stick my yogurt jar in the middle of all the other jars. 18 - 24 hours later, I have perfect yogurt... I make a quart at a time, and I use raw milk (so I only heat to 120, so I don't kill my raw milk cultures).....

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over 3 years ago ginam

Once you get the hang of it, you'll find yourself becoming a bit of a yogurt snob...at least if you're like my daughter who won't have anything to do with store bought stuff, even though that is our starter every few batches. I have the Donvier model, and I like it but question the sense of having healthy food stewing in plastic for hours, so may have to switch to the model you mentioned. I must use a machine, though. I dread what would happen if I had to rely on our mixed up electricity in Japan to keep my oven or heating pad at an even temp.

If anyone hesitates, though, the real reason I wrote is to encourage others to take the plunge and buy a machine. If you get regular brands of yogurt, you might not find it worth it for awhile (except that yours will contain no cornstarch). But if you want organic yogurt for your family, this machine pays for itself in about 4 batches. Not to mention I'm never throwing away or trying to recycle pounds of plastic. Anyway, thanks for the great article.

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

You're welcome! And so true about the economical value of this. For t go wrong.

Stringio

over 3 years ago savitha

What a great post. My mom used to make yogurt without a machine. She boiled 1/2 a gallon of milk, allowed it to cool completely, added two tablespoons of good yogurt and blended it throughly, and then poured the mixture into a lovely container and put the whole thing in the oven at 100 degrees overnight. So wonderful every time.
For some reason skim milk provides an extremely rich and creamy yogurt, however counter intuitive that may sound.

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Thank you! I'll try it with skim and report back.

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over 3 years ago namesmatter

It's Guiliano, not Giuliano.

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Thank you very much for catching that and letting me know.

100_0933

over 3 years ago Eliana60

When I was in college or right after we used to make yogurt using the crock pot. Here are a couple of posts & a video about making your own yogurt in a crock pot.
http://www.ehow.com/how_5940628_make...
http://crockpot365.blogspot...
http://www.youtube.com...

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Cool, thanks for sharing!

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over 3 years ago deanna1001

I've been making my own for a year now without any fancy equipment (except for an old heating pad - which wasn't ever being used.) Take 1/2 gallon of milk - any style but I like 2% best; heat it to 190-192º. Remove from heat and either allow to cool on its own or use cold water baths to bring the temperature down to approximately 112º. Stir in 2 Tbs. of commercial yogurt (Dannon plain is best - premium greek style don't work as well), cover and place on heating pad set at medium for 7 hours. Refrigerate (this will allow it to set further) overnight. At that point I like to strain it through cheesecloth for about 2 hours to get a really thick greek style, but you can just stir it an enjoy. Make your next batch using starter from this one. Easy and so tasty!

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Love the heating pad method! Thanks for sharing.

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over 3 years ago william_huebl

This might help: http://www.wikihow.com...

Enjoy,

http://mryogurt.info/

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over 3 years ago halfasiangirl

I am a recent devotee of homemade yogurt too. It is lovely, so much better than the commercial stuff if you use organic whole milk. I have a Donvier machine with 8 cups that has worked well for me.

My recipe calls for 1 TB of yogurt with active cultures (commercial or my homemade yogurt) for every 2 cups milk. I find that you can "recycle" your own yogurt for 3-4 batches before a fresh yogurt starter is needed, though. Maybe the cultures weaken? I also recommend Francis Lam's recent article on yogurt making if you want to try it without a yogurt maker.

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

From what I've read, it sounds like the cultures do in fact weaken after a couple of batches using your own yogurt as a starter -- just need to use store-bought every few times.

Chris_in_oslo

over 3 years ago Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

A little note from a baby boomer: when I was in college and grad school, we did the simplest version of making it in one pot, in the oven, then moved on to a yogurt maker with cute glass cups. We then abandoned it all, because our friend Gary Hirshberg was making yogurt for the masses up at Stonyfield Farm. With only two of us at home, and a market around the corner, I'm unlikely to go back to making it for myself, but I think it's a super idea, especially for people with children in the house.

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, I think it would be great for kids -- both to help make, and to eat.

Lake___nicky-1061

over 3 years ago FrancesRenHuang

O I love homemade yogurt. :)

Mcs

over 3 years ago mcs3000

Oooh, Merrill - have been wanting to do this for a long time and your post has inspired me big time. I have a Williams-Sonoma gift certificate. Hopefully, W-S has one with a timer.

Mlt_yogateau_1

over 3 years ago mtrelaun

This is a different model from Merrill's, but the same brand and it has a built-in timer: http://www.food52.com/products...

Mcs

over 3 years ago mcs3000

@mtrelaun - thanks for the link! ps. love the shop - impeccable taste.

Minimallyinvasive

over 3 years ago Minimally Invasive

Homemade yogurt is wonderful (and so much more affordable than buying all of those containers at the store)! After a month or so of experimenting, I think I finally perfected my goat's milk yogurt over the weekend and will be happily having it for breakfast every day until it's time to make a new batch.

Gator_cake

over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

You should post your recipe!

Me

over 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I'd love to see your recipe too!

Merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, please post it!

Minimallyinvasive

over 3 years ago Minimally Invasive

Hi, sorry! It isn't much of a recipe, but here goes.

Goat's milk yogurt doesn't get as firm as cow's milk yogurt, so it takes a little fiddling. To thicken it, you can use gelatin and/or powdered milk, but I don't like the texture gelatin gives it, so I use powdered milk then strain the yogurt with good results.

I have the Yogourmet 2-quart yogurt maker, so I heat 2 quarts of goat's milk with 1 cup of powdered milk to 180 degrees F, then cool it to 110 degrees F and stir in the yogurt starter. (I'm sure stirring in a couple of tablespoons of yogurt would work well, too, but I haven't tried it yet.) I let it incubate for 5 - 5 1/2 hours, then strain it through muslin for a few hours until it's really creamy & thick. So much better than store-bought!