Growing up, we almost never bought yogurt from the store. Every weekend, my mom made a big batch of yogurt to last us the rest of the week. We used it on everything; with fruit, on top of warm rice (my favorite!), in smoothies…I mean everything!
Not only is making homemade yogurt more cost-effective (especially if you’re using organic ingredients!), it tastes better, has less additives, and can be customized to your tastes.
The recipe I use now is a little different from my mom’s recipe. In her efforts to fatten us up as little kids (every Arab mother’s life goal, LOL), she added a good helping of half-n-half and whipping cream to her mix. Now, don’t get me wrong, those two extras make for the yummiest, creamiest yogurt you will ever taste! But we’re not getting any younger, and our bodies just will not bounce back from all of that extra fat content – well, they’ll bounce, just not in the good way. 😉
Mom’s yogurt has become a once-in-a-while (read whenever I visit her) indulgence, but for our weekly yogurt batch, I keep it simple and low-fat. Here’s our super-easy, fail-proof yogurt culturing method.
You’ll start out with some milk and yogurt. You only need to buy yogurt for the first batch; after that, you will reserve some of your homemade yogurt to use for the next batch. You can use any fat content for the milk and yogurt; of course, the higher the fat content, the thicker and creamier the end result will be. So I don’t skimp on this; I usually use at least 2% (if not whole) milk, and full-fat yogurt (with active cultures!) as my starter. My mom always takes out her yogurt and leaves it on the counter to warm up to room temperature, so I’ve just always done that. If you forget, I don’t think it’s a big deal. The recipe below is for a half-gallon of milk, because that’s all the yogurt Mr. Nurture and I can go through in a week, but you can simply double the ingredients if you’re doing a whole gallon.
First, you want to create a warm resting place for your yogurt, so I turn on my oven to ‘warm’ while I do the rest of the steps. If you don’t have a warm setting, just turn it on the lowest temperature for about 15 minutes to warm it up. You want the temperature to be around 115 degrees. Once it’s warmed up, turn off the oven.
Next, you’ll want to prepare your jars for storing the yogurt. Ideally, they will be sterilized glass jars. You want to stay away from plastic, especially since you’ll be pouring the hot milk/yogurt mixture into them. I just use old honey jars, jelly jars, salsa jars, etc. Place them on a tray for easier transferring to the oven later.
Then, you’ll add your milk (and cream, if using!) to a big stock pot, and bring it to just under a boil (around 185 degrees). Right when you start to see little bubbles on the top (forgot to take a picture, sorry!), remove the pot from the heat, and let it cool to around 115 degrees. If you have a thermometer, use that. If not, just do it the old-fashioned way and test with your hands: It’s ready when you can comfortably place your hand on the side of the pot (or dip your clean finger into the milk) for at least 10 seconds.
Once it’s cooled down, get ready to work quickly. Put your yogurt starter into a bowl or a 2-cup measuring cup. Then, scoop out a few ladle-fulls of the warm milk and add them to the yogurt. Whisk it to combine, then add the mixture back into the pot with the rest of the warm milk.
Stir it gently 2-3 times (no more than that!) to make sure it’s all mixed well, then pour (or ladle) the milk/yogurt mixture into your prepared jars. You can also just leave it all in the pot, but I don’t recommend that since you’ll have to transfer it to jars later anyways.
Now, carefully move the tray of jars into the oven, making sure not to agitate or jostle them too much. Turn the oven light on, and set the oven timer for 4 hours.
After 4 hours have passed, the yogurt should be nice and solid. You can taste it at this point to see if you like it. If it’s not tart enough for you, put it back in the oven, and check on it again in another hour or 2. Once it’s reached your desired taste, remove the jars from the oven, and let them rest on the counter until they’ve cooled to room temperature. Then cover the jars and store in the fridge, where they’ll keep for about a week, although I’ve kept mine for up to 10 days without issue.
The pictures below are from my yogurt batch after it’s been refrigerated. See how thick it is, just like regular yogurt? It even leaves a layer of whey at the top, just like the store-bought kind. You can either dump this out (don’t do that – it’s sooo good for you!) or you can just stir it right back in, like I do. Or if you want a thicker, creamier yogurt, you can strain out the whey. For an even more delectably creamy spread, check out my post on Labna (Arab Cream Cheese), which is just yogurt, strained overnight in the fridge.
Enjoy with your favorite mix-ins! 🙂
VERY IMPORTANT: Don’t forget! Make sure to keep some of your batch to use as the starter for your next batch! I just keep it in a small container in the back of the fridge so nobody eats it on accident! 😉
This is just one method for making homemade yogurt. There’s so many more variations online! Here are a few that caught my eye:
Alright, I’ve included an easy to use, and printable recipe below so you don’t have to read through all of that again. 🙂 Have you made your own yogurt before? If not, would you consider it? What other dairy products do you like to make, or would you like to see featured here on Nature’s Nurture?
|Easy Homemade Yogurt||
- 1/2 gallon milk
- 1/2 cup yogurt (with active cultures)
- Clean glass jars
- Thermometer (optional)
- Warm up the oven either on ‘warm’ or the lowest setting for about 15 mins. then turn off.
- Place clean glass jars on a tray.
- Add milk to a stock pot and cook on high heat until just under a boil. When you see little bubbles on the surface, remove from the heat.
- Let milk cool to about 115 degrees (on thermometer) or until you can comfortably place your hand on the side of the pot (or dip your clean finger into the milk) for at least 10 seconds.
- Once it’s cooled down, put yogurt into a bowl. Scoop out a few ladle-fulls of warm milk and add to yogurt. Whisk to combine, then add the mixture back into pot with the rest of the milk.
- Stir gently 2-3 times (no more than that!) to make sure it’s all mixed well, then pour (or ladle) the milk/yogurt mixture into prepared jars.
- Carefully move the tray of jars into the oven, making sure not to agitate or jostle them too much. Turn oven light on (very important!), and set the timer for 4 hours.
- Remove jars from oven, and rest them on the counter until they’ve cooled to room temperature. Then, cover the jars and store in the fridge, where they’ll keep for about a week, and up to 10 days.