How Not to Make Homemade Yogurt

There are about a gazillion posts out there on the interwebz about how to make homemade yogurt. This is one of them.

How Not to Make Yogurt

I consulted various websites, blogs, and friends before attempting my yogurt batch. They all said the same thing: “making yogurt at home is easy!” Score. That sounds right up my alley.

So, I bought some yogurt cultures from an online retailer. The cultures were to be mixed with a cup of milk and left on the counter for 16-48 (48?!) hours to create the starter. After 22 hours, I was tired of waiting, my milk was just curdled (not solid, like yogurt) and I decided that was a bust. So much for easy, no-machine-required yogurt making. “Maybe you’re just not cut out to make yogurt,” said Hubs.

Challenge Accepted.

I moved on to “the crock pot method,” determined to make some mother-effing yogurt. This method seems to be the most popular among People Who Blog About Yogurt. I followed the blog post exactly:

HomemadeYogurt

After mixing your starter back into the pot of warmed milk,

Homemade Yogurt Disaster

Yes, people, that’s correct. The bottom of my Crock Pot(TM) cracked at the edge and milk was pouring across the counter and down the cabinets. And here’s why you shouldn’t always trust bloggers: (Wait. I’m a blogger. Trust me! You can trust me! Really, you can trust me. You can trust me? You trust me? Really?) Anyway, bloggers don’t always get recipes right. In fact, I will tell you straight-up that you should proceed with caution if you’re not much of a cook when following a recipe found on a blog. And, apparently, I’m not much of a cook.

The recipe I followed instructed to turn on your Crock Pot(TM) BEFORE heating the milk, to get it warmed up. Now, the First Rule of Crockpot Club is Don’t Turn on The Crock with Nothing In It. I should have heeded my own knowledge and realized that the temperature change when the heated crock got splashed with slightly-cooler milk would create a problem.

Healthful Mama DIY Yogurt

But all was not lost!

Thankfully, stovetop yogurt (not this bastardized form of stovetop/crockpot ridiculousness I was following) is really simple. I had not poured all of my milk into the crockpot, so I covered the warmed milk again, wrapped the pot in a towel, and put it in my oven with the light on. After 16 hours, my yogurt was miraculously firm and adequately yogurt-y.

Homemade Yogurt Success

After losing some milk to my first failed attempt, and losing some milk in The CrockPot Incident, I had a little less than a gallon with which to work. I strained the yogurt through cheesecloth (probably not necessary, but I wanted it THICK), and it yielded about 40 ounces of Greek yogurt.

The yogurt tastes delicious and it’s super-thick & creamy.

Homemade Yogurt result

Overall, I’m really pleased with the results and will be making this again, sans CrockPot. RIP, my friend.

Have you ever made your own yogurt? What method did you use?

Homemade Greek Yogurt
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
A simple, stovetop method for creating delicious, thick, Greek yogurt.
Ingredients
  • 1 gallon pasteurized organic milk
  • 5 oz container of greek yogurt
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, slowly heat milk over med heat to 185 degrees, stirring occasionally. Milk will appear frothy. Do not overheat. You can use a candy thermometer to monitor temperature.
  2. While milk is warming, fill a sink with cold water.
  3. When milk has reached 185, remove from heat, cover with a lid, leaving lid cracked for steam to escape, and place pot into the water bath. Be careful not to get water into the pot.
  4. When milk has cooled to about 100 degrees, remove a cup of the warmed milk and mix it a bowl with the greek yogurt.
  5. Pour milk/yogurt mixture into the pot with warmed milk and stir thoroughly.
  6. Cover the pot, wrap in a heavy towel, and place in the oven. The oven should not be hot nor turned on. Turn on the oven light and allow the milk to culture for 14-18 hours.
  7. Once yogurt has set, you can drain the yogurt through cheesecloth for an even thicker preparation or simply strain off whey (yellow liquid) and refrigerate immediately. Store yogurt in glass containers.

 

And make sure to save that whey!

You can bake with it, ferment with it, or make a tasty drink.

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11 Responses to How Not to Make Homemade Yogurt

  1. Leigh May 22, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    As a blogger who has blogged about making yogurt I understand your frustration. I skipped all the super DIY ways to make yogurt (in the oven, in a cooler…etc.) and got a yogurt maker. Since I am sending yogurt out in three lunches everyday, including my own, the individual glass containers that came with maker worked for me. What I am struggling with now is how to prefect the vanilla flavor we like… tried vanilla bean while heating the milk and vanilla extract during heating or cooling. Still have not gotten it perfect.

    • HealthfulMama May 22, 2013 at 10:02 am #

      I considered a yogurt maker, too, if we liked how homemade yogurt turned out. Good to know that the individual jars are a lifesaver! How often are you making yogurt?

  2. Betsy (Eco-novice) May 24, 2013 at 1:05 am #

    Sad! Although if it makes you feel better, I at least always had qualms about what was in the lining of crock pots. I have a yogurt maker (which also took some trial and error) but have friends who’ve had luck with the oven method.

    • HealthfulMama May 24, 2013 at 9:25 am #

      I keep hearing about how people love their yogurt makers. I may have to do some research…

  3. Krisha May 24, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    Looks like quite an ordeal! I make mine in the stove over night. Works out great every time. I found that the clue is to heat up the milk pretty fast but pay full attention. Because when I do it slow i always start multi tasking and then it gets to hot. I also like to strain mine. I use the whey for soups and bread baking!

    • HealthfulMama May 25, 2013 at 11:45 am #

      Good tips, thanks!

  4. OnGreenCarpet June 5, 2013 at 8:26 am #

    Thanks for sharing your experience! Our family makes yogurt heating milk on the stove too, cooling a little, then adding natural yogurt (bought or from previous batch) and then letting it culture for few hours or overnight (depends on a batch every time) just on the table or if need faster in warm water bath. You can find it here: http://ongreencarpet.blogspot.com/2012/06/home-made-yogurt.html
    However, I really want to try the Greek version you described, so I’m gonna experiment with the oven light procedure next time!

    • HealthfulMama June 5, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

      Thanks for sharing!

  5. Tina January 26, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    I just started making yogurt myself. I bought a yogurt starter from Culturesforhealth.com, I am using a round dehydrator that I converted into a yogurt maker. You can read about how I did that on my blog. :) It’s been working out pretty good, except for when my 3 year old decided to turn the dehydrator up to 150° F on my last batch. I’m trying to make my next batch with that yogurt right now, crossing my fingers that she didn’t murder my culture.

  6. Judy Moore March 22, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

    I followed many recipes for yogurt until I got to yours. It’s the only one to work! The secret is having the light on a cold oven. Thank you so much for your insight!

    • HealthfulMama March 23, 2014 at 8:15 am #

      So glad you’ve had success, Judy! I just made another batch a couple days ago after not making any for months. I forgot how easy it is!

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