You do not need anything fancy to make yogurt! Anyone can do it too! My kids helped me and I think with a little practice they could do it on their own too.
Homemade yogurt cost the price of the milk you use. We go to Aldi and get a gallon of milk for $1.69. So that is about 85 cents for a half a gallon of yogurt. The first starter will cost more but after that, I pay 85 cents for 2 weeks worth of yogurt!
This is my Kitchen Multitool! Meet my slow cooker!!! It is my favorite kitchen appliance! I need like 5 more!
Things you will need:
- slow cooker
- candy thermometer
- yogurt starter (Don’t worry I will tell you how to make one!)
- whole milk (raw if you can get it!)
- coffee filters (or cheese cloth or even a pillow case) and colander
- A day off from work
Although this is easy, it does take some time. I start mine in the evening so and sleep through at least 8 hours of it.
For starters, you need to find a starter.
This is where a lot of people get hung up. Like me, you may not have friends who make yogurt. It is really hard to find out how to get a starter. A lot of websites said ask a friend for one. If I asked my friends they would be as confused as I was. If you are lucky to get one from a friend, get one, that will be the best. If you are not so lucky, fear not!
You can use store bought yogurt. Yes that is the big secret! You just need some of the live bacteria to get you started. Once you have that, it will grow and create more. You can not use just any yogurt though. Try to find one that is organic, and plain. If you can not get organic that is okay too. I did not know that when I got mine and used regular. This makes it thinner, but as you make more it will thicken up. Also do not get reduced fat yogurt if you can. Reduced fat yogurt will again result in watery yogurt. It does need to be unflavored and unsweetened though.
Unfortunately when I went to the store I could only find reduced fat non organic in the plan. If I wanted vanilla though that would be a different story. So I do know it will work, it just is not as good. It resulted in watery, but good tasting yogurt.
When I made it the second time, using my homemade watery starter it worked great! My second batch was amazing! Do not give up!
Why whole milk?
Like your starter you want whole not reduced. The reason why is the creaminess comes from the fat. If you really want to use 2% it may work but it will not be rich. I have not used 2% so I really do not know what the results with that would be.
Okay so now what do I do?
This recipe yields about a half gallon. Why so much? Well it does take about 20 hours. I also have a household of 5, and it is a healthy snack. Did you know cream cheese is made from yogurt?
- Heat 8 cups (half gallon) of milk in a slow cooker. Using a candy thermometer check the temp often. You want 175-180 F. Depending on your slow cooker this can take about 2 and a half hours.
You heat the milk to kill the bacteria that you do not want growing. If it gets too hot it may kill the bacteria that you need to make it.
- Once you have the right temperature you want to let it cool to 100-115 F
This is the ideal temp for the good bacteria to grow in.
- While the milk is cooling turn your oven on the lowest setting.
- When the milk is at the correct temperature add 1/2 cup and 2 table spoons of the starter yogurt. Whisk it in until there are no signs of the yogurt. If you can not find your whisk (like me) you can use a fork.
- Turn your oven off
- Place in the heated oven
This is to keep the heat in. Be sure it is really off though
- Leave it alone for 12 hours. This is very important. Opening can mess it up. You want it to stay warm!
I planned it so that it went in the oven before bed, I slept for 8 of those 12 hours.
- Take it out of the oven. When you pull the pot out of the slow cooker you want it to still be warm on the bottom. Open, and stir! You now have the best yogurt EVER!
- Save some for a starter for your next batch. (You may want to label it so it does not get eaten)
If you want nice creamy yogurt, or Greek yogurt there is more steps, but at this point it is safe to eat and tastes good.
For Greek Yogurt:
- Using coffee filters to line a colander strain the yogurt. This will take some time! (30 mins at least) Stir from time to time scraping the bottom, to get the thick layer off so more whey can drain.
I tried a large colander lined with like 3 or 4 filters to do it all at once and all I did was make a mess. I want to see about getting some really big ones from work. I ended up using regular filters in a small sieve. Thankfully I have 2 and was able to have both sitting at once, but it took me all day .
- Save the yellow liquid that comes through! This is called whey and is very good for you. It is pretty useful too. I will post more on that later though. (Until then look up uses for liquid whey.)
- Once it is strained, flavor and enjoy!
When does it go bad?
As I was making my yogurt with the help of my kids, my middle son asked me, “So when does this expire?” I just looked at him and said, “uhmmm, I don’t know.” He wisely pointed out that I should find out.
So looking it up I found most people say go by the date of the milk used to make it. That seems reasonable to me.
Useful Note for the Starter:
I recently read that you can freeze your starter so it will last longer. I have not exactly tried this yet. By that I mean, I have my starter in the freezer but I am not ready to make more yet.
I read that when you are ready to use it, thaw by placing the unopened starter in a bowl of room temp water. It will take a while and it is suggested you do this first. If you thaw too fast it will not work right and if it is still frozen it will not work. Wait until it is room temp to use.