How To Make Homemade Yogurt

by Kristen on October 8, 2009 · 537 comments

in Recipes

Why should you bother making yogurt at home? Well, homemade yogurt is ridiculously good, ridiculously cheap, and not very complicated to make.

Basically, you:

  • heat up milk
  • cool it down
  • add a cup of prepared yogurt
  • pour it into jars
  • let the jars sit in a cooler with warm water for several hours.

It’s not at all fancy. ;)

The first time I made yogurt, I thought it was a total pain-in-the-rear and I was SO never doing it again. But, after I did it a few times, I realized that it didn’t really take that much hands-on time, and that I could get some kitchen tasks done easily while I waited for the jars to boil and for the milk to heat up.

And of course during the three hours that the yogurt sits in the cooler, I’m free to do whatever I want to do as the yogurt requires no supervision. If you still need convincing, you can read about why I bother with this process each week.

When I can get local milk, that’s what I make my yogurt with, but when that’s not available, I use commercial whole milk. Unless you’ve got a specific reason for avoiding milkfat, I would caution against using lower fat milk products to make yogurt. Whole milk will make your yogurt much thicker and creamier than low-fat or fat-free milk will.

You can feel free to make a smaller quantity of yogurt if you worry you won’t be able to use 4 quarts. Just use a half gallon of milk and two quart jars.

The recipe requires no special machines…you probably have most, if not all of these items in your kitchen already. Here’s the equipment that I use (plus a un-pictured cooler).

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The recipe I have suggests sterilizing the jars. I’ll include the directions for that, but I have to tell you that I’ve tried the recipe with and without sterilizing, and I haven’t noticed a difference. If you don’t have a dishwasher, this step might be more essential, but if you run your jars through a dishwasher, they should be sufficiently sterilized already.

To sterilize the jars, you just boil them in about an inch of water, along with the bands and lids for 10 minutes.

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Next, you need to heat the milk to 185-195 degrees. A heavy bottomed pot works best for this because your milk will be less prone to burning and sticking to the pot bottom while heating.

Edit, June 2014: I now own an All-Clad 8 quart stockpot and it is the BOMB for heating milk. For some reason, I have zero trouble with milk sticking to the bottom of the pot. Highly, highly recommended!

If you own two stockpots, you can just leave the jars and lids in the first pot and use a second pot to heat the milk.

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Once the milk reaches 185-195 degrees, take it off the heat and place it in a sink filled with cool water until the temperature drops to 120 degrees.

A hot cast-iron stockpot can break if you put it into a sink full of cold water, so at this point I pour the milk into the pot I used to sterilize the jars.

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Once the milk drops to 120 degrees, it’s time to add the starter. The starter is just previously cultured yogurt, which will spread the yogurt cultures all through your gallon of milk, turning it into yogurt. If this is your first time making yogurt, you’ll want to use 6-8 ounces of plain (or vanilla) yogurt. If you’ve already got jars of homemade yogurt in the fridge, though, you can use a cup of that as your starter.

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If you need to purchase a starter, I can heartily recommend Yoplait or Dannon. Other brands of store-brands might be iffy, though. I used an off-brand cup as a starter once and my yogurt didn’t turn out at all. Better to be safe than sorry, I say, so pony up the extra $.25 and buy a name-brand cup. ;)

Once your yogurt turns out nicely, you should hardly ever have to buy a starter again.

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The original recipe I have specifies that you should not open your starter until you’re ready to use it. I don’t know how necessary this precaution is, but I haven’t been brave enough to try using an opened quart of yogurt as my starter. I’ll let you know if I try, though!

At any rate, you’ll need to whisk the cup of starter into the 120 degree milk. Make sure it’s entirely mixed up so that the yogurt culture is spread throughout the whole gallon.

Once it’s mixed up, pour the milk into your quart jars. I’m no good at pouring from a pot, so I pour the milk into a clean pitcher and then pour it into the jars, using a funnel.

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I own this Kuchenprofi stainless steel funnel. The removable strainer is great because it can catch any bits of milk that formed a skin during the heating process, but if you don’t own a funnel like this, you can put a small strainer over top of your funnel.

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The milk will probably have some bubbles on top, which you can leave if you like.

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They won’t affect your yogurt one way or the other, but if you prefer a neater surface, you can skim them off.

Top each jar with a lid.

You can either use lids and a band, or for $5, you can get a set of Ball Wide-Mouth Plastic Storage Caps, which I just love. They are so very convenient. For regular-mouth jars, you can use the lids from grated Parmesan containers (you can see one in the background of this photo.)

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Place the jars into a cooler, and fill with a gallon of 120┬░ water. You want the water to come at least 3/4 of the way up the jars, or the yogurt will not stay warm enough to incubate. So, if you’ve got a really large cooler, you may need more than a gallon of hot water.

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Shut the cooler lid and leave it in a draft-free place (not outside, for example, and not right by your front door in the wintertime) for three hours.

After three hours, remove the jars to the fridge. The yogurt should be fairly firm at this point. It will firm up more in the fridge, though, so don’t panic if it’s still a little sloshy.

Once it’s been refrigerated, your yogurt should be about this thick.

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And when spooned into a bowl, it’ll look like this, as long as you’ve made it with whole milk. Yogurt made with lower fat milk will not be as firm.

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Homemade Yogurt (makes 4 quarts, which will keep for at least a month in the fridge)

For vanilla yogurt directions, see the bottom of the recipe.

Ingredients

1 gallon of milk
1 cup yogurt starter(you can use a small cup of plain Dannon or Yoplait yogurt, or you can use a cup from your previous batch.)

1. Place four quart glass canning jars, four lids, and four screw-tops in a large pot. Fill with an inch of water; cover with lid and heat to boiling. Boil for ten minutes. Leave the lid on the pot and move it off the heat until you are ready to use the jars.

2. Pour one gallon of milk into a large, heavy bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven. Heat the milk to 185-190 degrees Farenheit(90-90 Celcius).

3. Place the pot in a sink filled with cold water and let the milk cool to 120 degrees fahrenheit(50-55 degrees celsius)

4. Stir one cup of yogurt starter into the cooled milk, using a whisk. Stir well to ensure that the starter is thoroughly incorporated into the milk.

5. Pour the milk into jars, and put the lids and bands on. Place them into a cooler.

6. Heat one gallon of water to 120 degrees F(50-55 degrees C) and pour into cooler.

7. Shut cooler lid and leave in a warm place for three hours. When the three hours are up, place the yogurt in the refrigerator.

To make a delicious vanilla version of this yogurt, add 1/2 to 1 cup of sugar to the four quarts of milk when it’s cooling in the sink. Then stir in 1-2 tablespoons of vanilla, depending on your preference, and proceed as usual with the recipe.

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Here are more of my yogurt-related posts:

Why I Make My Own Yogurt
Cost Comparison of Yoplait and Homemade Yogurt
Yogurt Q&A

Did you have a yogurt failure? Here’s a whole list of things that could have gone wrong and what you can do to fix them.

Leave a Comment

{ 528 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Erika October 8, 2009 at 8:54 am

I somehow came across your blog a few weeks back and have been hooked since! You’ve inspired me to try making a lot of food homemade (my first batch of yeast bread was a success!) and I’ve been greatly reducing my food waste.

I was wondering if you could tell me how long this yogurt will stay good for (both the sealed jars and then a jar once opened). There are only two people in my household and although we have yogurt for breakfast everyday, I’m not sure how quickly we’d go through this amount of yogurt. Also, is the nutrition the same as the store-bought kind? Thanks!

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2 sasha April 15, 2012 at 6:19 pm

no it is not the same thing

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3 Poppy April 15, 2013 at 3:41 pm

It is my understanding that homemade yogurt should stay good for 2 to 4 weeks if it is refrigerated. I’ve never tested this because it is devoured as soon as we make it in our home.

Thank you, Frugal Girl, for showing your readers that yogurt making doesn’t have to be a scary process. It seems a little intimidating for those of us who haven’t made it before (kind of like making bread).

I found a recipe tucked into one of my grandmother’s cookbooks for homemade yogurt and it is by far the easiest, most fail-proof method of yogurt making. No temperature monitoring, no boiling, NO FUSS! (yes it is REAL yogurt). You use powdered milk, water and plain yogurt as your starter, then let it culture in your oven. EASY! You can see the recipe here – It might be a good alternative for those less adventurous souls.

http://poppyjuice-poppy.blogspot.com/2013/04/how-to-make-homemade-yogurt-easy-and.html

Thanks again for such a beautiful tutorial!

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4 Kristen October 8, 2009 at 9:00 am

Ohhh, thanks for reminding me of that. I’ll add that information to the post above. I don’t know how I forgot…that’s one of the most common questions I get! Unopened yogurt keeps for at least a month, and an opened jar will last at least a week. You can certainly make only a half gallon of yogurt, though, using two quart jars.

The nutritional content of this should be just like commercial yogurt, as I don’t believe that most companies fortify their yogurt.

I’m so glad my blog has been helpful to you…thanks for the encouragement.

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5 Cate October 8, 2009 at 10:08 am

Okay, so I HAVE to try this! It looks so easy! I love yogurt, but whenever we buy it I’m always appalled at how expensive it is. For your recipe, all I’ll need to buy are some quart jars and a cooler (there’s always freecycle!) and milk/a starter, which we buy anyway. Thanks!

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6 WilliamB October 8, 2009 at 10:11 am

When I evangalize to others about making yogurt I point out that it’s about as hard as making canned soup: heat milk, cool milk, add yogurt, wait.

My 2 cents:
- I use skim milk without problem, compensating for the lack of thickness by letting the yogurt sit for longer.
- My yogurt doesn’t come out as thick as Kristens, probably because I use skim milk. I strain it through cheesecloth or paper coffee filters to make it thicker. You can use the leftover liquid (whey) to enrich bread by using it in place of water, or to water outdoor plants.
- I have had success using yogurt from an open container. I have not used off-brand yogurt as starter.
- You can make as little yogurt as you want. I’ve made a 2 cup batch.
- Mine has lasted 3 weeks, unsealed in a tupperware, in the fridge.
- You can add pureed fruit to make fruit yogurt. Watery pureed fruit (such as melon) will make your yogurt thinner.

I think I will try the hot-water-in-cooler trick, see if it leads to thicker yogurt.

Why do you think your cast-iron pot will crack in cold water? Has it happened before? In which case, my hearty sympathies!

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7 Rose April 4, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Thicker yogurt cannot be obtained by changing the process or leaving it longer in the processing state. It gets more ‘tart’ if you process longer.If you strain your yogurt after the requires 4 hours / prior to refrigeration, it will be much thicker. I use t-shirt material peggged to my colander. It will look like greek yogurt. Use the ‘whey’ on your plants or lawn. Hand whisk after straining and put back into the fridge to set. I find that the thickening process only starts after 3.5 hrs and is normally completed in 4 hrs, as long as I keep the temperature around 110F. Hope this helps and doesn’t confuse anyone.

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8 Barbe May 9, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Can you make yogurt using almond milk?

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9 Kristen October 8, 2009 at 10:15 am

Cate, there are almost ALWAYS canning jars at my Goodwill, so check the thrift stores too. I’m so excited that you’re going to try it! It’s really not hard once you get the hang of the steps. I can do it all by memory now, so it’s very easy.

William, I’ve read that sudden temperature changes can crack this sort of pot. It’s hot from the stove, so I’m worried about plunging it into a sink full of cold water.

You should try the yogurt with whole milk. It’s really quite delightful. ;)

Thanks for the info about the opened yogurt. Mine is never open and unused for more than a day or two, so I don’t have a lot of experience with that!

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10 Just Gai October 8, 2009 at 11:16 am

I occasionally make my own yoghurt but on a much smaller scale.

I bring a pint of milk to the boil, let it cool to blood temperature, stir in a tablespoon of live yoghurt from a carton, and pour it in to a thermos flask to set overnight. In the morning I transfer it to a glass jar or a plastic container and chill it in the fridge.

I sometimes strain it briefly to produce a thicker yoghurt, or for longer to make a cream cheese that can be mixed with herbs and spread on crusty bread.

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11 Shayna April 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm

This is how a whole subcontinent makes yogurt- all of India, Pakistan, Srilanka, Bangladesh and other South Asian yogurt eating countries. you don’t need complicated jars or extra vessels. just simply boil milk, cool to luke warm temperature, add in live yogurt cultures, mix and set over night in a warm place- DONE!

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12 Lajja August 10, 2012 at 12:26 am

I so agree with Shayna.. and equally surprised how so many people don’t know how to make yogurt at home..! Boil the milk (fat or no-fat), add a spoonful of yogurt!! I don’t even remember buying a yogurt from a store!!

It’s definitely a good website, but the recipe looks so complicated with all the jars and what not!

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13 Misti March 11, 2014 at 12:12 pm

I found the recipe really simple to use, but then I have canned food before and this is the normal process. I think that makes the difference

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14 ej March 11, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Misti,
Yes the canned process is normal.
But what some people are saying is- yogurt can be/has been for generations made with less equipment(because canning needs more equipment)

15 Sue January 14, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Yes, when I was in Israel – they made yogurt this way – after boiling the milk, mixing in the culture they wrapped up the pot with a blanket and left it on the kitchen counter overnite! It was De-lish!

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16 Rick August 6, 2014 at 1:25 pm

I agree the basic process is simple and versatile. That is the functional beauty. Making yoghurt can be adapted to ones resources and needs! My grandmothers cooking notes from over forty years ago mention cooking yoghurt:
‘Scald milk (do not cover during cooking) and cool to almost lukewarm. stir the starter until smooth and mix in some of the warm milk and then stir the starter into the rest of the warm milk. Mix well and only stir in one direction. Cover bowl with a plate and wrap in a heavy wool cloth or blanket. Leave undisturbed in a warm (not hot) place-DO NOT DISTURB while it is working. Finished in three to four hours. refrigerate and serve cold.’

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17 Rick August 6, 2014 at 12:59 pm

I make the cream cheese by mixing a little salt into the yoghurt. Pour the yogurt into a cheese cloth or cotton bag and let hang overnight to dry.

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18 Christie October 8, 2009 at 11:53 am

I love making our own yoghurt! I was officially converted last year when I happened on your blog and boy my family is glad I did.
I top ours with a spoon of homemade jam and sprinkle it with 1/4 cup of homemade granola. It’s a cheap healthy breakfast!

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19 dogear6 October 8, 2009 at 12:01 pm

LOL! I discovered your website a while back because I was looking for yogurt instructions. The new and enhanced pictures are very nice, although the concept is pretty much the same as before.

I use fresh starter from time to time especially if the yogurt starts having trouble setting up. I also keep powdered starter in the freezer that I bought at the health food store. It is not cheap, but it’s more of a just in case the yogurt all gets eaten and I am unable to buy more starter (snowstorms, store out of stock, whatever). If kept frozen, it lasts quite a while. Of course since I started doing that, I have not needed it :)

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20 dogear6 October 8, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Here’s my favorite homemade granola for my yogurt. It’s called Chocolate Crunch if the link does not work.

http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1687651

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21 Erika October 8, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Last questions, promise! Is the starter-to-milk ratio always 1 cup starter to 1 gallon milk? So if I was to make half a gallon I would use 4 oz of starter?
Also, with canning jars, is it true that the jars and rings are reusable but you need to use a new lid each time? I think I read that about making jams and jellys, but I’m not sure if this is the same type of thing.
Thanks!

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22 Kristen October 8, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Christie, that’s awesome. Go you!

Dogear, yes, the content is the same. It just has nicer illustrations now. lol I’ll check out your recipe…chocolate sounds delicious!

Erika, I’ve never made a small batch, but I’m guessing the ratio would be the same. Anyone else?

You can most definitely reuse the lids. You only need to buy new ones when you are preserving something so it will be shelf stable. Then you need the lid to seal properly. When you’re making yogurt, old lids work just fine. I’m just re-using the lids that were on my canned tomatoes….I don’t think I’ve ever made yogurt with new lids, actually!

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23 Lin October 8, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Hello, I am eager to try this. I have one question tho. Could you use another type of jar, say perhaps old spaghetti jars?

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24 Kristen October 8, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Lin, you definitely can. The only downside is that sometimes commercial jars have smaller openings and it’s a bit harder to get the spoon inside to dish out the yogurt. I use old glass peach jars sometimes, as they tend to have large mouths.

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25 Lin October 8, 2009 at 12:48 pm

@

Kristen

Thanks so much, I can’t wait to try it. Love the blog btw, I check it daily. Thanks and keep up the good work.

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26 Brenda Pike October 8, 2009 at 2:34 pm

How long does the active part of the process usually take you? I’ve never considered making my own yogurt before, but this seems easy enough. Maybe some weekend when I’m looking for a project….

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27 Janknitz October 8, 2009 at 3:06 pm

I first learned to make yogurt from your old post, and here are my tweaks:

1) I make a quart at a time. That’s just right for my family.
2)I use a “permanent” coffee filter with a fine plastic mesh to strain the yogurt and thicken it up a bit.
3) I heat the milk in the microwave. I have a huge pyrex measuring cup (I think it holds 4 quarts) and it’s perfect for this. It takes about 7 minutes to heat a quart of ice cold milk to 180 degrees in my microwave.
4) I let the heated milk come down to 120 degrees on the counter–it takes about 15- 20 minutes. No need for the ice bath.
5) I pour the cultured milk into a pre-heated wide mouth 1 qt thermos bottle and put the bottle in an insulated lunch bag to incubate over night. In the morning, I put the fresh yogurt in a quart jar to go in the fridge so we can see it (less likely to forget it), but it could be stored in the fridge in the thermos just as easily.
6) As soon as I’m ready to refrigerate a fresh batch of yogurt, I take 2 tablespoon’s worth and put it in a small container in the freezer so I have some for the next batch. That way we don’t forget to save some at the bottom of the jar.

I don’t think it could get any easier than this. Thanks for the great idea to start making my own!

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28 Joyce October 8, 2009 at 4:16 pm

I use 1% milk. It comes out a bit thinner but it’s okay. Sometimes it sort of strains itself and there’s liquid on top, which I discard. I never thought about watering an outside plant. I will do that.

I use Polaner All Fruit jars, peanut butter jars, salsa jars. I never have a problem. I also pour it into a picture and fill the jars that way.

My only problem seems to getting the skin on the bottom of the pot from heating it up. I think I will try my husband’s cast iron kettle. Maybe that will work.

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29 Danielle April 20, 2011 at 11:24 am

I’ve used the liquid as a substitute for part of the milk in pancake or muffin recipes too!

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30 calimama @ compactbydesign.com October 8, 2009 at 4:41 pm

Kristen,

(Congrats on cleaning up the “f”!)

Have you ever added fruit or other flavoring to your yogurt? I love plain and vanilla but we are always buying the little containers because my husband and son want the fruit versions.

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31 jean October 19, 2012 at 11:02 am

i have made yogart for 25 years by addin 2 spoons of yogart in a wide mouth sterile glass jar with any kind of milk including powdered milk. i wrap a heating pad around it. go to bed and have yoart in the morning. so simple.

jean

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32 Karen October 8, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Kristen,

We have been making yogurt with your previously posted recipe. I use 1% milk because we are supposed to be watching our cholesterol. It turns out fine if I use a store-bought starter yogurt and let it sit for 6 hours in the cooler. We like to add canned peaches or blueberries on top when we serve it. My daughter likes to mix in Kool-aid powder. We also enjoy your whole wheat bread recipe. Thanks so much!

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33 Karen October 8, 2009 at 6:48 pm

excellent! doesn’t seem difficult at all. very clear instructions, nice job! i am by myself, though and you can’t freeze yogurt, but if it does last a month, i can always keep three and give one away …??

other problem is i’m wondering if this can be done with soy yogurt and soy milk. what are your thoughts?

i think honey is delicious with some local honey stirred in for sweetener.

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34 Diane October 8, 2009 at 10:33 pm

I’ve used this recipe successfully since I first found it on your blog. Here are a couple of other random thoughts: When grocery shopping, I always watch for jars that have taller lids. The canning lids and rings will fit these (think pasta sauce, some jams, etc.) and are great for yogurt. I am single, so I always share my yogurt with my neighbors and occasionally they buy the milk. Can’t get more frugal than re-purposed jars and free milk! If I know I’m going to want fruit in my yogurt, I add a packet of unflavored gelatin (mixed with warm milk) after the starter. This makes the yogurt thicker to begin with, so it’s not runny once the fruit is added.
Yogurt cheese rocks! Strain your yogurt (save the whey-I add it to oatmeal or grits for a nutritional boost) and use it in place of mayo. I make killer deviled eggs without mayo and no one knows the difference. Oh, so yummy and so much less guilt!
Make sure you have a good thermometer, it will make the job so much easier. Note: If, while you are getting the hang of this, you forget the milk and it comes to a boil, STOP! Your yogurt will not set up. Don’t waste any more time or starter. Run to the internet for boiled milk recipes and better luck next time.

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35 EPB September 7, 2014 at 9:48 am

I disagree about boiled milk — I have forgotten that I’m heating milk for yogurt and let mine accidentally boil for who knows how many minutes. I still cool it to 150 degrees (which is the temp that works for me every time even though temps listed here are cooler than that) and add a few spoons of live-culture-store-bought-yogurt per quart. Then I put the jars inside a cooler wrapped with a towel or sleeping bag and let it sit overnight/all day. It sets up fine even though it may not be the best consistency yogurt.

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36 olivia October 8, 2009 at 10:34 pm

i’ve made yogurt twice and it was alot of work when the end product wasn’t so thick and i had to strain out the whey. yours looks amazing. i will try again. something i’ve read about starters….there are a couple brands out there that have 8 different cultures in them. those are the ones to buy. the more cultures, the better! just read the labels. i think stoneybrook farms is one. good to know the unopened jars will keep for a month! i love to put honey or agave sweetener in mine…even better…bananas, honey and cinnamon.

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37 Jonathan October 8, 2009 at 11:08 pm

Thanks for posting this very user-friendly post. I’d been a bit unsure about making yogurt and long wondered what went into it. But now I can see how easy it is and I’m much more likely to give it a shot.

Also, one frugal yogurt tip. We finished a jar of raspberry jam, but there was a little bit of juice at the bottom. Pour that into plain yogurt and–voila–raspberry yogurt (without crazy amounts of sugar, like the store-bought).

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38 WilliamB October 9, 2009 at 9:00 am

@Diane
I’ve never had a problem turning boiled milk into yogurt. Sometimes it takes longer to yog.

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39 EPB September 7, 2014 at 9:50 am

I second that William! Just last night I let my milk accidentally boil for who knows how many minutes. I still did my “yog thang”, letting the jars yog up overnight/all day inside a cooler wrapped in a sleeping bag. It set up fine.

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40 Diane October 9, 2009 at 11:41 pm

@WilliamB
I love that – “longer to yog”! I did it on one of my earliest attempts, so there may have been other contributing factors. I picked up a Yogurt Book from the library (after the fact, of course) and it reiterated the no-boiling thing, so I thought that was the cause. Happily, I seem to have gotten the hang of it.

Jonathan #23 – Your tip is straight outta the Tightwad Gazette. If you haven’t read it yet, get the blue version (all three editions in one) from your library. You’ll love it!

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41 Nancy April 10, 2013 at 9:50 am

I love Tightwad Gazette, great money saving ideas!! I love this home made yogurt thing~haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds like I’m going to!!

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42 casey October 11, 2009 at 2:26 pm

I started making homemade yogurt when a friend brought over farm fresh milk. Kristen just happened to post the original yogurt post around the same time.

I’ve made smaller batches and just tossed a whole container of starter in. It turned out fine.

This last time I used 2% and left the yogurt in the cooler overnight (I forgot about it) and it turned out great.

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43 Cassie August 21, 2011 at 4:48 pm

I’ve always had a question and I think you can answer it for me.
When you use farm fresh milk do you skim off the cream first, or just mix it up with the milk before you start heating it up?

Thanks! Cassie

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44 Kristen August 23, 2011 at 6:48 am

You can just mix it right in!

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45 Becky October 12, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Thanks for posting this!! I was just thinking about how expensive yogurt is to buy. I think I will try this.

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46 Honey October 12, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Your yogurt does look delicious! Mine, made with 2%, isn’t as thick. I just do the crockpot method-super easy. And because there are 7 of us we eat it all quickly!

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47 kristy March 3, 2012 at 5:47 pm

i saw u make ur yogart from a crockpot. may i have the recipe? thanks

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48 Steve in W MA October 13, 2009 at 12:51 am

One other method instead of the stovetop heating method is just put the milk in 2 glass quart jars and microwave for about 10 minutes (per jar) to reach 180-190F.

Then cool it down to like 130 and add the yogurt culture. I use a hand blender to mix it up and spread the culture well.

I tended to do this at night, then I put the jars in a 50s styrofoam cooler and put the lid on and go to bed.

The yogurt was perfect in the morning.

I say “wa perfectgs” because now I’m a vegan and therefore don’t make or eat yogurt. I may try making soy yogurt at some point though.

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49 Steve in W MA October 13, 2009 at 12:52 am

stonybrook makes an excellent yogurt for a starter.

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50 hadiza October 26, 2009 at 7:30 pm

frugal girl you rock. i always wanted to make yogurt. i used to alot but your idea for putting it in a cooler and pour a hot water never been smarter i went to your yoghurt blog yesterday and make your idea youghurt style and i found fantastic thank you and god bless

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51 Molly in CT October 28, 2009 at 7:15 pm

I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and I’m thoroughly enjoying it! (I love the recipes and photography posts especially.)

Now my questions: My 7 yo loves “pink yogurt” from the store but doesn’t like the chunky ones, so we’re limited to trader Joes and Stonyfield. I’d like to try your yogurt recipe but thought I’d try mixing in some seedless preserves. Have you tried a berry variation?

My kids also love the “drinkable yogurts”. Do you have a recipe for that?

Thanks!

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52 Ann November 5, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Lovely blog!

I hate buying so many foods in non-recyclable containers. Plus, I am also a frugal person. So, I make yogurt regularly. A little different method:

2 quarts of milk. (I use skim, because my dh and I are watching calories and fat)
2 tbs dry milk powder
2-3 tbs dannon plain yogurt (or any quality brand. not non-fat)

Heat oven to its lowest setting. Mine goes as low as 170F. Once oven has reached that temp, turn it off, but keep the door closed.
While oven is heating, whisk powdered milk into milk in a microwave-safe bowl
Heat milk in microwave until just before boiling (about 200F)
Let milk cool to about 115-120F
Take out a cup of milk, mix in the yogurt. Stir the yogurt/milk mixture into the big bowl pf warm milk.
Place bowl in oven, cover with clean kitchen towel. Close the oven door
Turn on the oven light
Go to bed.
In the morning, divide the yogurt into portions and refrigerate for a few hours. It sets up even more then.

Save a little for starting the next batch.

I have little plastic freezer jam jars I got a long time ago that have tightly fitting lids, so I spoon the yogurt into these. My husband and I take these to work every day.

Higher fat milk sets up better. The powdered milk helps low/no fat milk set up a little more.

I put up a good bit of jam every year. We mix a spoonful of jam with a cup of yogurt.

I’ve made all size batches. The ingredients can be adjusted up or down proportionally.

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53 Carla November 14, 2009 at 7:48 pm

THANK YOU for this post, Kristen. I am very pleased to tell you that I made a pint (a test run) of homemade vanilla yogurt on Thursday and even more pleased to tell you that I like yogurt for the first time in my life! I have never cared for commercial yogurt at all “ö it sets my teeth on edge. This lovely homemade yogurt, however, has a mild delicious flavor which is very appealing. I do have true milk allergies, as well as lactose intolerance, and so I am eating only a little at a time, spreading it out in small, wonderful little bowls.

Just so you know, I varied slightly from your incubation procedure by filling jars with hot tap water and putting them into a soft-sided, insulated bag with my jarred milk mixture. And… it took much longer than 3 hours to make yogurt “ö I think it was about 7 hours. (I did change out the warm water jars a time or two to keep temp steady in the insulated bag.)

Mine is very soft, pourable even, but so delicious I’m not concerned for this batch, although I would like to firm up a second batch. Does the sugar and vanilla affect how firm the yogurt gets?

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54 Bonnie April 3, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Carla,
you said that you are lactose intolerant. Have you ever tried farm fresh raw milk? I ask because my husband is lactose intolerant and he read online that this is sometimes caused by the pasturizing of the milk. The process kills bacteria that is essential in the digestion of lactose. We bought raw milk from the farm and he was fine! He even had a milkshake with me last week with no belly trouble. I apologize for the long comment. I had to share.

This site is amazing I am going to make yogurt and sharemy results

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55 Rick August 21, 2014 at 10:54 pm

If you can find it, goat milk can be used without any lactose problems.

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56 Kate December 5, 2009 at 10:41 am

We currently buy our yogurt from a local co-op but it’s so expensive that I would love to make some ourselves. I’ve not made yogurt in the past because the recipes and advice I’ve seen all recommend using milk that has not been ultra-processed. I literally CANNOT find milk that has not been ultra-processed in the grocery store (organic or not). What milk do you use and is it ultra-processed? Should I just give it a try and see?

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57 Kristen December 5, 2009 at 11:12 am

Kate, I use regular milk that’s sold in plastic gallons at the grocery store. Usually milk that’s sold in cardboard cartons is ultrapasteurized, but the kind in plastic gallons is not. I don’t think that ultra-pasteurized milk would be a problem, though.

When I make yogurt with raw milk from a local farm, my yogurt is thicker, and I assume that this is because there is more live bacteria in it. But the pasteurized milk turns out yogurt that is just fine.

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58 Aussie Elv January 7, 2010 at 6:23 am

This recipe looks so easy to make, thank you for sharing!

Is it possible to do this without a cooking thermometer? Any tips to help you know when the milk is the right temperature?

Also, I don’t suppose you’ve ever tried this with any non-dairy milks?

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59 Kristen January 7, 2010 at 6:42 am

I have not tried this with anything but cow’s milk, but I know people use goat’s milk to make yogurt. I’m not positive about what might happen with soy milk or almond milk, but I’m sure you could google it and find someone who’s tried!

I always use a cooking thermometer because while I could figure out what 120 degrees feels like, I don’t want to figure out what 180 degrees feels like (hello, burns! lol). You don’t need a fancy thermomete…a plain jane, non-digital $5 sort will work just fine, so I would totally recommend buying one.

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60 Aussie Elv March 15, 2010 at 7:01 pm

That is a very valid point about the burns. Sometimes I get confused as to how hot things are in Farenheit (I am used to Celsius)… so thanks for that! (A quick google shows 120F is 49C, which is ok, but 180F is 82C… which is less than 20 degrees away from boiling point. Burns indeed!)

I have seen some recipes for non-dairy yoghurt before… they are achievable, but more complicated than yours, which seemed blissfully simple. I will return to my google-fu and see what I can find.

Thanks heaps for your advice!

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61 emma songdahl January 24, 2010 at 11:24 pm

The reason the jars need to be sterilised is incse of bolutism.

Botulism is rare, so you wouldnt notice unless is killed you. the lower teh ph the more the likelihood, so yoghurt is a bit iffy.

plus – screw the brand names, just go for something with good yoghurt cultres in it. yoplait is down teh bottom of my list. oxygen kills the cultures, so does saliva, so dont double dip.

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62 Amanda February 7, 2010 at 10:02 am

I finally made the plunge into yogurt a few weeks ago. I wanted to give a suggestion to others. Instead of a cooler I use my crockpot. It is just the right size for the canning jars I have and means I don’t have to pull out another piece of equipment to take up space in the kitchen. (Mine sits on the counter making dinner 2 to 4 nights a week anyway.)

Other than that I am just getting the hang of “the method” so I can use less pots and get the process down in time.

The family loves yogurt smoothies in the morning and I like knowing they are getting good things into their digestive tract.

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63 Rena February 16, 2010 at 1:47 pm

I do a combo of methods I combine Ann’s method of using powdered milk with Kristen’s overall stovetop/cooler method. My bf and I only like skim milk & I know it sounds gross but I use the instant powdered milk (about 1/3 cup for 2 qts) & add it to the mix while cooling. It works wonders to thicken fat free yogurt! And let me tell you… I couldn’t be happier with the overall result. And I use plastic caps for my Ball mason jars that I found at a local hardware store for only 1.79 for an 8 pk so my bands don’t wear out.

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64 kristy March 3, 2012 at 5:55 pm

is it possible that i could have ur yogart recipe. i also like skim milk. thanks

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65 Trisha February 23, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Love your blog. I do lots of cooking and baking but I have never made yogurt. I do eat a lot of greek yogurt. Can I use greek yogurt as a starter? Thanks so much.

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66 Sharon Lea February 25, 2010 at 11:41 pm

Thanks so much. I read every word and took the plunge. Bought a gallon of milk, sanitized everything in scalding water and began. I used whole milk. an ordinary thermometer, followed heating and cooling instructions,filled four quart jars. Then used small container of Dannon regular yogurt in two of the quart jars and one of vanilla yogurt in the other two jars. I mixed thoroughly, put the tops and screw lids on. Had heated my oven and turned it off, leaving the light on. I put all four jars in the oven and went to bed. This morning everything was wonderful. The yogurt is firm like your pictures Kristen. Put it all in the frig and it is perfect. I love the oven method for it is so easy and I thank you Ann for that idea. I am delighted – I have four quarts of “lovely” $5.00 yogurt for $5.00 total. Wow!! Then I took one of the plain quarts and am currently draining it in the frig wrapped in cheesecloth over a strainer. Hopefully I will have cheese in the morning. I will experiment for I don’t know what to do. I will add salt first and then proceed. Any ideas? Blessings, Sharon Lea

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67 Tracey February 26, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Thanks for all these tips! I’m really into physical fitness and make lots of protein shakes, which include organic fat free yogurt. I figure I use close to $1000/yr. I’m going to experiment with it!

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68 Sherri March 3, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Have you ever tried adding fruit to your yogurt recipe??

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69 Michelle March 5, 2010 at 1:47 pm

I just made this (it is in cooler now) and I had about a cup left over, is this normal? I made the vanilla one if that matters. Hope I didn’t mix it up because it looks so yummy and was easy to do.

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70 Kristen December 3, 2011 at 4:02 pm

If you made it with a cup of yogurt as the starter and a gallon of milk, you should have 1 cup more than 4 quarts (a gallon). ;oP

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71 Bill December 4, 2011 at 6:55 am

I always plan for some leftovers, and yes the cup of yogurt does add to the amount of yogurt culture you are making. Usually the extra fits in a small jelly jar and I culture it along with the gallon. It can be used for the next batch of yogurt.

Bill

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72 Barbe March 11, 2010 at 12:46 pm

I just tried your yogurt recipe! I am so excited to see how it comes out!

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73 Traci March 12, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Thanks for the recipe and wonderful pictures! I just successfully made homemade yogurt for the first time!
But now, I have been trying to add fruit so we can have strawberry banana yogurt, just like we like from the store. It is not working. After I add the fruit it is a liquid. I have frozen strawberries, which I take the extra frozen water off and i use a blender to chop them up. I tried adding corn starch (which was gross) and dry milk to thicken it, but nothing even seems to be helping. I guess I can try strawberry jam instead, any other suggestions?

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74 Barbe March 12, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Thank you so much for this recipe!!!! I was worried at first, it turned out I was just too impatient, but it did finally set up by the next morning. It is very good! Some think it needs more sugar, but I think when we get rid of the “store bought” taste, it will be just fine.

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75 Annette March 13, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Love your blog. Finally tried your homemade yogurt recipe. I will probably never buy yogurt again unless I am buying starter. Thanks!

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76 Rachel March 16, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Ah, I was impatient. I took it out at the three hour mark, and it was not set up. It’s a tad bit thicker now, but the consistency is still pretty much of milk. Tastes WONderful though, definitely worth it. I think I’ll mix this batch with some granola to eat, so the thin-ness isn’t quite as obvious.

Next time I’ll try straining it, and I might even delve into the powdered milk arena if need be. This is too good to not make again (thin or not!)

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77 Kristen March 16, 2010 at 7:06 pm

On occasion I’ve had a batch that took a couple of hours in the fridge to set up. I have no idea why, as most of the time mine is thick when I take it out of the cooler.

Maybe yours will still thicken!

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78 Kate April 22, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Mine came out watery twice (once with a crockpot-only method from crockpot 365 and once with Kristen’s method). I am pretty sure I inadvertantly used ultra-pasteurized milk the first time, but the second time I know I didn’t…well, I used the yogurt-milk over time for things like dressings, scrambled eggs, marinating fish, “cream” sauces…at least since it’s cultured it lasts a long time in the fridge. I’m going to try again–I want yogurt! :-) I saw the tip with the powdered milk. I’m going to try that, b/c I really need to make mine with skim milk or 1%, not whole.

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79 Bill July 26, 2010 at 7:47 am

At the risk of sounding pedantic, I encourage you to always bring milk up to at least 190F, no matter what kind of milk you are using. There are many reasons for doing this, and this is what I know about it:

- the proteins in the milk break down and become more digestible and able to thicken the yogurt when the bacteria is added;
- when you heat milk this way, you are certain you will have no competition with any other bacteria – you start with sterile milk;
- having to cool it down makes sure that you have it at 110 – 115F range needed for incubation when you add the culture.

Now I always add some powdered dry milk. Recently, I even used a cup of powdered (non-fat) with whole milk and IMHO it turned out as thick as Greek yogurt. So here is what I do:

- The night before, I add 3 quarts of milk (usually non-fat) to my Crockpot and 3 cups of powdered dry milk to that and stir it in well. I could use more but this amount seems the most convenient at this time.
- Then I add a tablespoon of a 50-50 combination of sugar and Splenda for each quart of milk and then add a pinch of salt for the batch.
- I turn the Crockpot on low and cover it and let it go all night long.

So in the morning:

- I check the temperature to make sure it is at least 190F and pour the hot milk into the jars I am using to culture the yogurt. This helps sterilize the wide-mouth jars and ensures I have the right number of containers I need for the resulting yogurt.
- Next, the hot milk is poured from the containers into a huge soup pot which is in a dishpan with cold water surrounding the pot.
- I wait for the hot milk to cool to at least 120F.
- I put the culture – using between a couple of tablespoons and a cup – into the blender.
- Some of the cooled milk is added to the blender and blended for 10 seconds. Remember, the cultures contain billions of bacteria which need to be evenly dispersed throughout the milk or it will clump and become grainy.
- The cultured milk is returned to the rest of the cooled milk and I whisk it for another 10 seconds.
- Then I pour all the cultured milk through a fine strainer into a waiting pitcher or 2 – depending on the size of the pitchers and the amount of milk being used.
- Then the pitcher(s) are poured into the waiting warmed containers and they are placed in my yogurt machine.
- I turn it on and monitor the temperature – perhaps needlessly as mine is a Waring Pro yogurt maker which is thermostatically controlled.
- After 2 hours, I slightly jiggle one of the containers to see if it is firm – it usually is so I put them in the fridge and finish my cleanup. You can wait longer 5, 8 or even 24 hours – all that happens is the yogurt gets thicker and more tangy.

FYI, I put up to 4 quart jars in my yogurt maker and it will only hold pint jars so I have to put towels over the top to close the gap between the top and bottom of the yogurt maker.

By the end of the year I expect to have made over 100 gallons of yogurt – I am at over 25 gallons now since mid-May and without one failure.

So take what you want from my experience and instruction… I hope things work for you.

Bill

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80 Rebecca Kipe April 28, 2011 at 10:40 am

I’ve been making Kristen’s method for a couple months now and it works great! I think that the longer I let it sit in the cooler, the thicker it gets. I know some methods let the yogurt sit for 12 hours, so I don’t think you are going to hurt anything if you let it sit longer. Also, I make mine with 2% milk and add 2 packets of unflavored gelatin for 1 gallon of milk. I’ve read that powdered milk sometimes gives the yogurt a weird texture or adds starch (?)…I can’t say if this is true though b/c i’ve never tried it. maybe i would like it if i did. I’d like to use 1% milk, but haven’t had the nerve to try yet, and the whole milk and 2% is soooo yummy! when i mix it with pureed strawberries it tastes like strawberries and cream :) hope that helps!

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81 Barbe March 18, 2010 at 5:36 am

Why on your blog does it say to heat milk to 180 and on the recipe it says to heat the milk to 185-195? Will heating it above 180 have any effect on how it thickens and if you heat it higher than 180 will it not thicken?

Please rely,

Thanks

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82 Kristen March 18, 2010 at 7:55 am

Whoops, that was a mistake on my part! I fixed it now. Really, though, I’ve let my milk heat to anywhere between 180-195 and my yogurt has been fine. I’ve even accidentally let it boil over, and the yogurt has still been fine. lol

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83 Barbe March 19, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Thanks Kristen, That makes me feel better. I made some yesterday and it set up very well. I let it heat up to 185. Everything I have made so far from your recipes have been outstanding! Thank you so much! The only downfall, I am out of flour and milk! LOL! The chicken tacos were great too!

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84 Elaine Shannon March 30, 2010 at 1:43 pm

I was inspired to make this and am I glad I did. It turned out wonderfully! I did make mine vanilla and sweetened it slightly. Just had it for breakfast with some leftover apples and blueberries that I had cooked slightly. Just wondering if you make your own laundry soap. I just started doing that a month ago and I am so thrilled with it. My son has skin issues and it has helped. Also the cost is pennies compared to dollars for other soaps you purchase..

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85 Kate April 2, 2010 at 9:23 am

Kristen, I’ve tried making yogurt twice now, and both times it just comes back as funny-smelling milk. The first time, I used the crockpot method from the A Year of Slow Cooking blog, which resulted in milk with lumps in it. When I later read that ultra-pasteurized milk will not work for making yogurt, I figured that was probably my problem b/c I had used organic milk, and almost all the organic milk at the store is ultra-pasteurized. Last night, I used milk that I *thought* was not ultra-pasteurized, from a local creamery, and tried your method. I was meticulous, I thought, but when I took the jars out of the cooler they were totally liquid. This morning, after 8 hours in the fridge, same situation.
In both attempts, I used 1% milk. I want to make my own yogurt to help reduce trash and get our diet as natural as possible; however, my DH and I are both those folks who have had a life-long struggle with weight, and I just cannot add the saturated fat into our diet that 2% or 4% milk would bring.
Any thoughts? Maybe I accidentally used ultra-pasteurized milk again?
Also, ideas for using this cultured milk?
Thanks–love your blog.

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86 Kristen April 6, 2010 at 7:11 am

Hmmm, that is strange! If you’re using lowfat milk, you could add some powdered milk into the mix to thicken it up a bit, or you could do some research on adding gelatin. I know some people do that with success.

What kind of starter did you use? The one time my yogurt failed was when I used an off-brand starter.

As far as the bum batch you have now, I’d use it in baking and in smoothies.

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87 Kate April 22, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Thanks Kristen. I noted in another post today that I was able to use it. I’m going to try the powdered milk idea.
Thanks again! love your blog!

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88 Barbe April 3, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Do you use a new starter every so often? I was just curious as to when or if you should replace the starter with a store bought yougurt on occassion.

So far we have been enjoying this homemade yogurt for three weeks now and it justs gets better! Thanks!

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89 Kristen April 6, 2010 at 7:09 am

I do use a new starter every now and then…it seems like after a month or two, my own starter runs out of steam as it were. lol

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90 Jenny April 5, 2010 at 10:35 pm

I’m curious about adding fruit as well. Any success or disasters that people can share? I don’t want to ruin it!

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91 Kristen April 6, 2010 at 7:08 am

I’ve not had success thus far, as the addition of fruit makes the yogurt too watery. So, we add fruit when we eat it, in the form of jam or sliced fresh fruit.

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92 namastemama December 2, 2010 at 1:10 am

Here’s the skinny on adding fruit. If you are using commercial yogurt for a starter, as you are, let the yogurt sit about 2-3 hours at 110-115F. THEN pour it on top of your fruit. Let it continue incubation 2-3 more hours, til the acidity of the yogurt increases to the point where the yogurt thickens properly. otherwise the fruit will ferment and yogurt will be runny.

Also, drinkable yogurt is kefir and you can find a culture for that also.

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93 Bill December 2, 2010 at 8:18 am

Hey namastemama, what happens when your yogurt sets up in only 2 hours?

I use Kristen’s method in adding things to the yogurt after it sets up. That way I have a myriad of choices whether it be jam, fresh fruit, granola or what have you. In my case, my wife does not like the same flavors I like (strawberry, apricot, etc, etc, etc). So to keep it simple, I just stir the flavors she likes into the yogurt I am serving her (yes, some guys DO serve their wives) and stir the flavors I like into my own servings.

Another reason is that I make yogurt in bulk (at least 3-4 quarts at once) so making plain yogurt gives me the most options in serving the yogurt.

BTW, I do make a yogurt parfait using fruits and jams with a sprinkle of granola on top – delicious…

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94 Sabrina April 8, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Just made this–thanks for the great post!!

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95 Christina April 17, 2010 at 12:27 am

I just discovered your blog last night, but already I am hooked. Just from a couple posts I read last night, my pizza crust crispness has improved and I have overnight cinnamon twists in the fridge.

I am really looking forward to trying your yogurt recipe. I tried making yogurt once before (last month, actually) and it was a flop. I used it up in smoothies, but no one wanted to just eat a bowl with fruit. In the recipes I found, no one said what kind of milk to use or even suggested a brand of yogurt to use as a starter. I found 1% milk marked down for .99 and bought 4 gallons. I only used 1 gallon to make the yogurt. We are a family of 8. Me, hubby, 5 always hungry kids and an invalid mother-in-law. We go through A LOT of milk. I followed the recipe instructions very precisely, using 1% milk and store brand yogurt, but I ended up having to strain the yogurt way too much. I had twice as much whey as I did yogurt and the yogurt was way too tart. Your detailed post and wonderful pictures make me want to try again – with better ingredients. Thanks SO MUCH for all you do for everyone who reads your blog. I love, love, love the recipes with pictures! Having simple step by step pictures is absolutely awesome.

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96 Bill May 12, 2010 at 6:19 am

Here are a couple of tips that can help result in a thick, tasty dairy yogurt – I have been making gallons of the stuff now over the past several months im my Waring Pro Yogurt Maker without a failure… but don’t ask me about soy yogurt:
- add 1/2 powdered dry milk for each quart milk and a tablespoon of sugar or sweetener and a pinch of salt and stir in well.
- bring the milk almost to a boil.
- cool to around 110F.
- use your blender to blend in the culture (Siggis takes 3 hours to firm up and Activia can take almost 5 hours)
- keep the cultured milk at around 115F until firm.
You can see results on my website http://mryogurt.info/ for different yogurt cultures.
Good luck,
Bill

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97 Elaine Shannon May 16, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I posted previously when I made your yogurt. It was perfect. This time I had my computer on the counter following directions and it died so instead of going to my desktop to check I went ahead by memory. Big Mistake. I whisked in the started before it got to 120. I so hope it still turns out. I had added vanilla and sugar and made half the batch like that then added a tiny bit of pink coloring and some Lorann raspberry oil. The taste was wonderful. I so hope it sets up.

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98 Bill June 17, 2010 at 10:59 am

The good news is if you added the culture to the hot milk, it more than
likely brought the temperature down within range.

I know I constantly have my thermometer at the ready. And to use the old
adage, measure twice and cut once.

Let me know how it turned out. BTW, I have found you need to add at least
10 – 20 drops of the oil depending on how strong the flavor is. Like with
watermelon, I use 20 drops per pint. But coconut only needs 10 – 15.

Bill

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99 Barbe May 21, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I think jars of homemade yogurt are beautiful too………..

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100 Bill May 21, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Well not only are jars of yogurt beautiful, but you can make it in all kinds of containers. I have made it in small stoneware crocks and in ceramic containers with ceramic bail-wire caps. And it is very beautiful. And if you are interested, my website is brimming with information about yogurt making. I just added a section on flavoring yogurt – just click on the tab at the top of the website to get to it.

http://mryogurt.info/

Bill

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101 Cate May 23, 2010 at 8:41 pm

I made homemade yogurt the other night and it worked great! I actually used a half gallon of ultra-pasteurized organic milk (before reading that it might not work) and a small cup of Dannon starter. The ultra-pasteurized milk worked fine! Instead of putting my jars in a cooler, I put the oven on 170 (the lowest setting available on mine), then turned the oven off, turned the oven light on, and put the jars inside. In the morning: yogurt! It was really delicious…much sweeter and milder than storebought plain yogurt, which I don’t like at all. I’m eager to try flavoring it differently, too.

Oh, and as a cost comparison…a quart of conventional storebought yogurt used to cost me $3. ($4 for organic). Making my own using organic milk and conventional starter, I got 2 quarts for less than $4 total. Not bad!

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102 Debbie June 13, 2010 at 2:29 pm

This is how I make yogurt, too. I love the photos. I don’t bother sterilizing my bottles – I just wash them well and then shake some boiling water in there. I’ve used an open jar of yogurt as starter (I usually use one jar of yogurt for 2 batches a week or two apart, depending on the use-by date). It works out fine, although the resultant yogurt isn’t as smooth. I thought was was because it wasn’t as fresh. In any case, I always have fruit or granola in my yogurt, so I don’t care if it’s got a few tiny clumps in it. The taste is what matters!

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103 Bill June 17, 2010 at 11:05 am

You can cure your case of the “clumps” very easily by simply using a blender to blend in the starter culture with the milk instead of stirring it in. The reason you want to do this is that the culture literally contains billions of bacteria so just stirring it a bit doesn’t distribute them throughout the milk. By blending the culture into the milk with a blender, you get the bacteria well dispersed throughout the milk. Then after it is all well mixed, I strain it through a very fine strainer. As I result, each and every time I get a smooth, custard-like yogurt that firms up in under 3 hours and most recently under 2 hours.

Try it, you’ll find it works.

Bill

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104 Jennifer June 17, 2010 at 1:22 am

Hey, I have a quick question if it’s not too much trouble. Do you stir your milk while it’s on the stove? I used instructions from a yogurt maker that said to stir often, but I think I may have over-whisked my milk. My finished product has some liquid on top and a bit of a grainy appearance.

Thanks so much for your help!

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105 Bill June 17, 2010 at 11:10 am

Right now, I have a gallon of fat-free milk with 4 cups of dry, powdered milk with some sugar, Splenda and a pinch of salt in one of my slow cookers. I do this to keep from scorching it. If you do heat it on a stove, you must stir it constantly to prevent it from scorching. When it gets to 190F, I will turn off the crock pot and then pour it into a pan that sits in a dishpan full of cool water to cool it to 110F. This seems to work the best for me…. and of course then I culture it in my blender and strain it and put it in jars to go into my yogurt maker.

Works well every time.

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106 Lisa June 17, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I think I have a yogurt FAIL :( I was so excited to make it today, bought new thermometer and 1/2 gal of Stonyfield Farm whole milk yesterday. It’s been about 3 hours and the yogurt is still liquid in the jars in the cooler. I followed the method and temps exactly, but I did use an open quart of SF plain whole milk yogurt as starter. Is there any way to save this? Maybe go get a brand new starter yogurt and gently reheat the milk to 120-130 and add new starter? I know I won’t have an answer soon enough to matter, so I’m just rambling; I really hate wasting food. Maybe we’ll have fish chowder tonight instead. Going out in a bit and I hope by the time I get back its thickened up a bit. Thanks. Will definitely try this again as it was pretty easy to make.

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107 Bill June 17, 2010 at 8:38 pm

Lisa,

I’ll bet it turned out ok after all – I hope???

If you have a life-long commitment to making yogurt, why not spring for a yogurt maker? I bought the Waring Pro yogurt maker – the only one thermostatically controlled – at a national store called Tuesday Morning for about 1/4th the retail price. It cost me less than $30 and I have yet to have had a failure. I made a gallon of a combo of Y1 (Bulgarian) and Activia several hours ago and it firmed up in less than 2 hours.

I look at a yogurt maker as an investment and it sure has been worth it. My website is: http://mryogurt.info

Let us know how it turned out!

Bill

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108 Lisa June 19, 2010 at 11:39 am

Hi,
The yogurt didn’t set…most likely the yogurt container I used was too old. The milk smells and tastes like yogurt, and there is 1/2″ at the bottom that is set. I’m willing to try it one more time the same method, but get an unopened container at the store to start. Thanks for the info about the yogurt maker, I may consider that.
Lisa

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109 Bill June 21, 2010 at 11:20 am

To Lisa,

Before I got a yogurt maker I tried the cooler method and the crock-pot method with mixed results. Sometimes the yogurt would turn our right and sometimes not. And I don’t think that had anything to do with the culture at all.

When I got my Waring Pro yogurt maker, except for soy yogurt which was a little thin, I have yet to have a batch of yogurt turn out less than perfect. And I know I have made at least 20 gallons of yogurt since I got the yogurt maker. When I pay less than $5 a gallon for the milk which becomes the yogurt and the same gallon of yogurt available in my local grocery store costs anywhere from 3 to 5 times that, I have paid for my yogurt maker many times over.

Believe me, it takes a leap of faith, as they say, to prepare and culture a gallon of milk, put it in the yogurt maker and wait to see if it comes out ok. So far, excellent, every time. So it is not so much faith now as trust. And I now have no faith in other methods…

I have no clue what is going wrong. It could be the culture, as you say. Or it could be something entirely different. If you mixed dry milk in with the whole milk and heated it to near boiling and added a little sugar for some of the bacteria and then cooled it to 110 or even 120, you should be ok. And if you used a blender to thoroughly blend the culture with the warm milk and then stir that back into the rest of the batch, it is hard to see what you did wrong, if anything. Then it is either the incubation temperature wasn’t right or, as you say, the culture wasn’t all that active.

If you start with a fresh container of active cultures yogurt and use that for your next batch, then all you have to do is save a bit of it for the next batch. That is, if it turns out ok. But you must check the temperature at each step of the process. In fact, I put a thermometer right into my yogurt maker just to see that the incubation temperature is ok. And thus far, after an initial adjustment from the starting temperature, it has always been right on 115F as close as I can tell.

Let us know how it goes?

Bill

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110 Levi May 9, 2012 at 8:10 am

I had the same problem. I just pulled my yogurt out the cooler and it’ watery not thick. I used new Dannon starter and followed instructions I thought exactly. I have them in fridge now. Maybe they’ll yog in there? I was so excited to try this too!

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111 EPB September 7, 2014 at 9:45 am

For those that make a yogurt FAIL — KEEP TRYING!!! Don’t give up, and if you are reading here about yogurt fails, know that yogurt making is actually super super easy. Don’t be overwhelmed by the dozens of tips and troubleshooting given all over this page. (1) You heat milk (2) You cool milk (3) You add cultures (4) You keep it warmish overnight/several hours. Tada! I make yogurt with different brands of cows milk and different store-bought yogurt starters every week just about. Some turn out better than others but it’s always healthy and good and saves $$$.

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112 Elaine Shannon June 17, 2010 at 3:27 pm

I had to jump on here and leave another comment. I have made this so many times now and it always turns out. Even when I added the yogurt too soon. I just put a batch in the cooler to “cure”. Today I made Key Lime. I have some orange oil I bought and will be trying that tomorrow. I have found my favorite way to eat this is to put a coffee filter in a mesh strainer and then pour a good amount of yogurt in and let it sit overnight. In the morning I pour the liquid away and what is left is so creamy and rich. Like Greek Yogurt. Delicious!

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113 Brenda July 19, 2010 at 10:01 am

I am a huge fan of home-made yogurt, I’ve been making it for years. I bought a yogurt maker a few years ago, and have been using that.
I have a question, if you can help me…
I was using Soy Milk for the last few years, and the results were fine. I also switched to using Greek yogurt as the starter, and the same results.
I recently swithced back to using Whole Milk, which I used in the past with excellent results, but the two batches I made were like tangy milk. Hardly thickened, after 8 hours or so. It has a tang, and the starter was fresh, so that can’t be the problem.
I normally leave my milk out to come to room temperature and do not boil it. I’ve used this method for as long as I can remember and never had a problem. I can’t recall if when I used Whole Milk in the past if I did it this way or heated it. Also, I used to use regular yogurt not Greek with the whole milk previously.
I’m just not sure why the switch to Whole Milk would cause this. I don’t think it’s ultra-pasteurized, I will check, I think just normal pasteurized.
Any help would be greatly apreciated!
Thanks

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114 Barbe August 1, 2010 at 7:55 am

I started straining my yogurt because it didn’t transport well in my husband’s and son’s lunch box. It is like Greek yogurt now! It is great! But does anyone know what to do with all the whey? I hate to throw it away.

Thanks.

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115 Bill August 1, 2010 at 8:30 am

Funny you bring that up because I just made black bean soup and used whey in it. My wife reported that it was the best I have ever made. Use it for bread making and so forth.

Bill

http://mryogurt.info/http://mryogurt.info/

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116 Barbe August 1, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Thanks for the info Bill. Maybe I’ll try that black bean soup.

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117 Dawn Chandler September 10, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Just ate my first bit of my first batch (warm!!) Oh my sweet heaven! I had made yogurt before and loved it but your way is so much easier!!! Thank you so much for posting!!

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118 Tiffiny Felix October 4, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Kristen, I had to tell you I finally posted about making yogurt :) I’ve made it three times now and it’s been great every time! Thanks so much! :)

http://bakeoff-flunkie.blogspot.com/2010/10/homemade-yogurt.html

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119 Sue October 4, 2010 at 1:53 pm

I’m going to try this! My husband loves plain yogurt and I’d love to surprise him with homemade!

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120 Mary October 4, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Arrgh. I just made mine last night and it didn’t set at all.

It’s barely slightly thicker than normal milk.

I didn’t have a thermometer, but I heated it to close to boiling, but not super close, and then let it cool some on the counter, added the starter and then put it into the cooler with the hot water…. Maybe my water was too hot? It was probably pretty close to boiling temp.

Should I heat it back up and mix in more yogurt and keep a better eye on the temps?

Any thoughts? Thanks.

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121 Tiffiny Felix October 4, 2010 at 7:28 pm

I don’t think you can make it work without a thermometer. From what I’ve read the temperatures are really important, especially cooling it down enough to not kill the starter, and having the water in the cooler the right temp. If you want to try it again I’d get a thermometer. It’s really worth it–Yum! :)

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122 Bill October 4, 2010 at 9:36 pm

There is a lot of information on my website: http://mryogurt.info/

I agree with Tiffiny – get a thermometer. Amazon has them for a couple of bucks. I have 3 for yogurt and 3 additional I use to check temps of my fridge and room temperature in 2 rooms.

Don’t worry about boiling milk… I have done it more than once and the yogurt turned out perfectly ok.

When you go to add the culture(s) – I use several together including Activia and a Greek yogurt plus a Bulgarian yogurt – check the milk temperature – it MUST be below 120 F. Using several cultures together eliminates the poor performance of one of the cultures. I usually wait until the milk cools to around 110 or below. Then I take some of the milk and put it in a blender with the cultures and blend for 10 seconds or so. Then I pour it back into the rest of the milk and whisk it for 10 seconds. Remember, you want to disperse literally millions of (good) bacteria throughout the milk and a blender will make sure that happens.

Finally, and this is why I use a Waring Pro Yogurt Maker, you need to maintain the jars of the cultured milk between 110F and 120F.

Don’t let one failure get you down. Get back up on the horse and try riding it again. Once you master the art of yogurt making, you will be hooked for life! And if you use a yogurt maker, you will find it is more of a science than an art.

Best wishes and good luck and please let us know how your next batch turns out.

Bill

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123 Mary October 11, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Ha! I tried again yesterday and it turned out great!!! Success at lost. And, even more importantly, I won my skeptical hubby over! :) Happy yogurt-making me. Thanks for the advice to my first hilarious attempts. It sure is easier with a thermometer. Also, whoever had the idea of doing it in the microwave, genius.

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124 Bill October 11, 2010 at 11:36 pm

Believe it or not, Mary, if you put the milk in a crock-pot overnight, it will normally reach near 200F by morning on low. For me that is even easier than using a microwave since you just set it and forget it.

Bill

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125 Mary October 12, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Alas, everything I put in a crock pot burns. Every time. Maybe it’s my crock pot? We’ll go with that.

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126 Bill October 12, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Mary – now that you have a thermometer, you can fill you crock pot with water and check it’s temperature in the morning. Do it 3 times – one on warm, one on low and one on high if that is your settings. My guess is on high it would be 212F, on low around 190F – 200F and on warm around 150F to 160F. By checking it out this way, you can see if you have a bum crock pot or not. But really, if low gives you that temperature range overnight, then try a batch of milk out and see if it doesn’t make things easier.

Bill

127 Kris October 5, 2010 at 12:48 pm

I just tried this recipe this week – thank you! If I hadn’t spilled so much (forgot to put it into a pitcher first) I think I would’ve gotton almost 5 qts. Anyway, I’m blogging about my experience and posting a link to this post.

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128 Janelle October 14, 2010 at 9:02 am

I too finally made yogurt using your method. Wow! So easy. I used already opened, bought yogurt as the starter, and all is well. Thank you.
I’ll see what the kids think of it this morning!

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129 Frances October 16, 2010 at 11:48 am

YOU HAVE PUT THE WORDS MOTHER, WIFE, DAUGHTER, SISTER AND HOMEMAKER BACK INTO THE WORD WOMAN!!!!!!!! YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!!! THANK YOU FOR YOUR BLOG!!!!!!!!!!

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130 pc me softly October 21, 2010 at 7:37 am

The important here is that: You need to begin with starter yogurt. Starter yogurt is yogurt that has been made with active live cultures. And where I can’t find such yogurt – from some village…

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131 Bill October 21, 2010 at 9:58 am

If that is a question – “where can I get active cultures…” if you can’t get it from the yogurt you get in your food store, then you can order it online… it’s powdered but works just as well: http://www.cheesemaking.com/cheeseculturesandmoldpowders.html

Page down to find the yogurt cultures.

I like the Y-1, 4 and 5.

Bill

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132 iconic and candle October 22, 2010 at 2:19 pm

My grandmother used to make homemade yogurt when we were kids. I will never forget that taste. Delicious!

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133 Lisa November 6, 2010 at 1:24 am

I am so excited to let you know that I made my first batch of plain yogurt this afternoon. It turned out beautifully! I wanted to share what I will be using the majority of my yogurt for. I have a rescue farm of sorts and am a huge animal lover. I have found through my experience with my varied animal friends that yogurt is wonderful in balancing their digestive systems. I currently have a senior pony (Nicholas) who eats a cup a day with his feed so finding your very easy to follow recipe has added a much needed boost to my pocketbook. I find that it is very delicious for me too! I look forward to purchasing another gallon of whole milk and making the vanilla flavor. Thank you!!!

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134 Bek November 15, 2010 at 11:05 pm

Stumbled across your site…thanks for the recipe and instruction! This is a fantastic recipe, and overall it looks so simple! Can’t wait to try it sometime :)

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135 anonymous December 3, 2010 at 7:09 am

Has anyone successfully made yogurt in a crock pot with ultra-pasteurized skim or 1% milk? The only organic milk I can get in my area is ultra-pasteurized. I really want to start making my own yogurt but cannot compromise by using non-organic milk. Any thoughts, suggestions, etc. would be much appreciated!

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136 Bill December 3, 2010 at 8:00 am

I have made yogurt with 1% milk – I use 2 quarts of it in my crockpot with 1 quart distilled water and 2 cups of powdered dried non-fat milk. I also use a cup of 50-50 Splenda-sugar for taste and to feed the yogurt bacteria. And oh yes, a pinch of salt. Then I go through the whole drill:
- leave in crockpot on low overnight until temp is 190F.
- cool in a huge soup pot placed in a dishpan of cool water. The temperature needs to be below 120F.
- add culture (I always remove a quart of the warm milk and blend with the culture in my blender. This is so important as you need to distribute the jillions of bacteria throughout the warm milk. And then, of course, whisk the blended culture back into the rest of the milk in the soup pot)
- strain into quart jars… usually have a bit of left over that I put in a small jar for the next batch. My wife objects to lumps in the yogurt and I have found that straining it eliminates the lumps. Just use a VERY fine strainer or strain through a dish towel.
- put jars in yogurt maker (Waring Pro) and let it go for around 2 hours which is how long it usually takes me to get a firm yogurt for the cultures I use.
- put jars in fridge.
- enjoy.

I have developed this method over the 8 or so months since I bought the yogurt maker. It usually takes me a few minutes to get out the crockpot and put in the milk to heat overnight. And then around 15 minutes to prepare the milk culture, bottle and place in the yogurt maker. And then refrigerate. Perfect yogurt every time with no hassle and only 20 – 30 minutes of my time at the most.

Bill

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137 harmony December 21, 2010 at 12:21 pm

This was my 3rd attempt at yogurt and it finally turned out perfect! Thanks so much for the recipe! I did add more than a gallon of water to my cooler because my cooler was a different size than yours. I also used aqave to sweeten my yogurt insted of sugar and it worked great.

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138 Chelsey December 31, 2010 at 3:02 pm

I would love to know if this works with almond milk (since that’s all we drink). I hope you’ll try it out one day and let us know because if I tried it and it didn’t work I wouldn’t know if it was something I’d done wrong or the almond milk’s fault! lol…

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139 Monica January 25, 2011 at 11:10 am

thanks for those article! I’m sure going to try making my own yogurt! I myself try to put my two cents by upcycling materials. Here is my website in case you’d like to check it out: eatgreen.etsy.com

Winderful article!
Monica
http://www.blogher.com/rescuing-plastic-bagseven-greener

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140 Tannis February 7, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Hello, I just found your blog the other day, somehow through a long bunny trail…. I was very happy to see a “How To” on making yogurt, cause I’d been thinking of trying it, but though it sounded like a lot of work. Your recipe sounded very easy so I attempted it… my yogurt turned out runny. Any ideas of what went wrong? I tried to be exact with the temperatures that the milk and water were heated to and I used Homo milk from the grocery store which is 3.25% milk fat. The yogurt was quite ‘sloshy’ as you described when I took it out of the cooler and it never got more solid in the fridge :( Any ideas?
Also, does it work to ‘up’ the milk fat of the milk by simply adding some cream?
Thanks! I’m loving your blog by the way!

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141 Kristen February 7, 2011 at 4:16 pm

What kind of starter did you use? I recommend a name brand starter.

How runny was your yogurt? Sometimes my batches are thinner than others, but they should definitely be thicker than milk.

And yes, you could definitely add some cream for a richer end product.

Bum batches of yogurt are good for smoothies, at least!

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142 Tannis February 7, 2011 at 4:47 pm

I think it was Astro Vanilla yogurt that I used, and it said it contained “active bacterial cultures”. Maybe I’ll have to try the Yoplait or Dannon like you recommend.
The yogurt was definitely thicker than milk, but still very liquidy. When I ran my spoon through it, it had clumps kind of like eggwhite consistency. That would be my best description of it.
Also, can homemade yogurt not turn out, as in that it is not safe to eat? I tasted it and it definitely tasted like yogurt, just more tangy and less sweet (which is a good thing!) I think I might have to try your Vanilla Yogurt recipe too! I want this to work!
Thanks!

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143 Kristen February 7, 2011 at 5:01 pm

It should be totally safe to eat, yes. I’d use it in smoothies, if I were you.

And yes, try Yoplait or Dannon next time. That should work for you.

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144 Tannis February 9, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Okay… so I was a little scared to taste the yogurt, since it looked slimy and like eggwhite slime in thick milk, but I did more than just lick the spoon last night! Yes, I was brave! I tasted it plain and was surprised at how good it tasted! It had a mild vanilla flavor since my starter was flavored and it was surprisingly sweet! I am a total sugar addict, so for something like that to taste sweet is very surprising. I made myself a smoothie with the liquidy yogurt and some mango, YUM! I’m definitely going to try making the yogurt again, and will try a different starter next time! Thanks for all your advice Kristen!

145 Barbe February 7, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Tannis,

If it is not too terribly thin, you could also strain it through a paper coffee filter. It becomes very much like greek yogurt. Nice and thick and delicious!

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146 Katherine May 30, 2012 at 10:52 am

I think this is the third or fourth post talking about using a paper coffee filter to strain, making Greek yogurt. None of the post explain at what phase of the process it would be done. Do you filter it right after the culture is added or after the refrigeration process? My family really prefers the thicker Greek yogurt and I think making the regular yogurt would be a waste for us.

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147 Kristen May 30, 2012 at 1:18 pm

You strain it after the refrigeration process, yep!

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148 Katherine June 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Oh…thank you. I’ll give it a try and let you know my results.

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149 Bill June 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Hi Katherine,
You don’t have to use paper filter papers – you can use the reusable plastic ones. Mine fit in the top of a quart plastic container – the kind we get for Chinese soup like Wonton for carry-out. I just dump about a pint of yogurt from the fridge into the plastic filter while it is in the top of the plastic container and then put a loosely fitting top on top of that and into the fridge she goes. Depending on the type yogurt, it may take as little as 8 hours to drain and as long as 24 hours if it is especially thick to start with. I then dump the now strained Greek style yogurt into another quart plastic container (my stash) for use when I need it. The leftover whey goes into a quart bottle where I mix it later with orange juice, soup or what have you. And I find an ice cream scoop helpful to make a serving of the yogurt from my stash.

Cheers!

Bill

150 Bill February 13, 2011 at 8:55 am

I’ll bet that very few if any of us know that there is an International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics and that it is doing great things in the field of probiotics including yogurt probiotics.

You can find them here: http://www.isapp.net/

And better yet, there are international guidelines for choosing probiotics: http://www.isapp.net/docs/Consumer_Guidelines-probiotic.pdf

Why do I mention these things? Well if you are as interested as I am in yogurt making, you would find everything available about yogurt making, including things being done to set standards and so forth.

For example, in my frustration to find what probiotics are available for yogurt making, along with a search of the Web, I also bought containers of every yogurt available in our local (Giant Food Store) supermakret. Eventually I went to many more stores such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, etc, etc, etc. You see, on each carton, you (are supposed to) will find a mention of all contents in the yogurt. But lo and behold, not true. One such container only had one culture mentioned although in order to be called yogurt, it must contain at least 2.

“Under the standard of identity established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in order for a refrigerated product to be called “yogurt,” it must be produced by culturing permitted dairy ingredients with a bacterial culture, which contains Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.”

Anything else is optional.

So I finally came up with a list of 20 bacteria strains which were either mentioned on the Web or on the actual containers of yogurts being sold commercially. And what is interesting is that as a general guideling “more is better” when it comes to probiotics. Several yogurts being sold commercially, like Stonyfield yogurt and some of the Greek yogurts contain as many as 6 different strains of bacteria.

What I am leading up to is that I have a culture bank of yogurts in my freezer and when I make yogurt, as I did this morning, I always include several different yogurt cultures in my batch – this morning I used Stonyfield, Activia and two cultures from prior batches. In this way I am sure to get a multitude of probiotics in the resulting yogurt. In the past, my culture time has been until the yogurt gets firm – usually from 2 – 4 hours but this time I will let it culture for an entire 8 hours on my yogurt maker. My thought is that it will increase the quantity of bacteria if I let it go the entire time.

Now if I could only get a culture strain or yogurt with 20 strains in it….

Bill

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151 Tannis February 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Success!!! I attempted making yogurt again yesterday and it turned out very nicely. I used a Yoplait starter this time, and my yogurt is nice and thick, and I’m starting to get used to the taste.
Something I was thinking of after reading Bill’s comment about different strains of probiotics, has anyone every tried adding digestive enzyme/probiotic pills to their yogurt? I’m talking about the capsules that you can buy in the store with acidophilus and lactobacilus (or something like that), that you could open up and pour the powder into the yogurt? It’s just something I thought of and am wondering if anyone has tried it!

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152 Bill February 18, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Tannis, congratulations on your making yogurt again. And I am wondering why you commented about the taste. You might try a Bulgarian starter if you want a change in taste.

Good thinking on those probiotic capsules. I might try doing what you suggested some time. Here are the bacteria in one such product: L. rhamnosus A, L. rhamnosus B, L. acidophilus, L. casei, L. delbrueckii subsp. Bulgaricus, Bifidobacterieum, B. longum, B. breve. When I try doing that, I think I would start with a successful culture I am already using and add the capsule to it. In that way, even if not all the bacteria “take” in the yogurt, at least the attempt will not be wasted and I will have yogurt to consume.

One reason they put probiotics in capsules is that the gastric acids in the stomach tend to kill many cultures before they reach the intestines. In fact they have studied the yogurts to see what comes all the way “through” your system and found that one of the 2 main bacteria components of yogurt doesn’t get all the way through.

But that is no reason not to try the capsules in yogurt as an experiment.

Thank you again for your suggestion – I’ll get back on it when I finish the test.

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153 Tannis February 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Hi Bill, I’d commented on the taste because the yogurt I made tasted a lot more tangy and tart than store bought yogurt. I assume it’s because there isn’t all the added sugars and flavors!
I had the idea about the probiotic capsules because the yogurt I used as a starter only had 2 probiotics/active bacteria (whatever you want to call them) listed, and I thought most capsules have a lot more varieties in them and that might be a way to add a little more ‘variety’ to your yogurt. I’d love to hear how your “test” goes!

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154 Bill February 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Hi Tannis, I understand about the flavors and sugars. I add some sugar for the bacteria and some Splenda for taste – plus a pinch of salt and it turns out great…

The last batch I made was from mostly dry, powdered milk as I was running low on whole milk. It did come out a bit thin even though I added extra dry.

I ordered Primadophilus« Optima with L. casei-108; B. longum-135; L. acidophilus-122; L. plantarum-119; L. rhamnosus-111; L. rhamnosus-114; B. breve-129; B. bifidum-132; L. lactis-136; S. thermophilus-110; B. infantis-116; L. bulgaricus-137; L. salivarius-118; L. helveticus-128

Got it from Amazon with free shipping as I ordered some other things I needed also. So it should be here in a week or so – let you know how it turns out. BTW, read reviews of it on Amazon and one reviewer said he used it for yogurt and it turns out great.

Bill

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155 Bill April 20, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Hi Tannis, I have tried both 8 probiotic strain yogurt and one that has 17 strains. The 8 strain one worked out well but the 17 strain was not as thick but tasted ok. Not being a microbiologist – I have to take on faith that some if not all of the strains ended up in the yogurt…

BWDIK?

Bill

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156 Bill February 27, 2011 at 7:39 am

They asked me to write a wikihow on making yogurt by machine: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Yogurt-By-Machine

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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157 Carol April 16, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Hello from Scotland and thanks for the recipe.

I’m going to give this a try in the morning. I have some bio yogurt in the fridge that needs to be used up so what better way than to make more yogurt.

I’ll come back and let you know how I got on, you make it sound so easy so I’m sure it will all go smoothly (literally)

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158 Bill April 18, 2011 at 7:57 am

Yesterday, I needed to make yogurt and was running low on whole milk. So I made up a mixture of 1 qt whole milk and 2+ qts homemade rice milk (had some vanilla, sweetener and cinnamon like horchata) and added 2 cups powdered dry milk plus 1/2 half cup sugar/Splenda mix and a bit of salt. I brought it to a boil and then cooled it, cultured it and put in jars into my yogurt maker… it turned our fantastic – great taste, fairly thick (like Activia) and I am amazed how easy it was.

I am probably going to have to buy a small chest freezer to store all the cultures – they are taking over my family freezer!

Bill

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159 Jennifer April 22, 2011 at 7:19 am

Thank you SO MUCH for this great recipe/method! This was my second time making yogurt and it came out perfect! (My first was the crockpot method & the results were liquidy and over-tangy for my tastes.) I halved the recipe and used 6oz canning jars sterilized in the oven, so it’s already set-up like serving sizes for the week — I just add mashed raspberries and a squirt of honey and enjoy!! My toddler loves it, too! Thank you again!! <3

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160 Carol April 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Well, my first attempt was a bit of a failure……. no I take that back, it was a total failure………. It was either the old yogurt I used or too much heat (I was incubating it in the oven by turning the oven on once per hour for 1 min and forgot to turn it off for about 10 mins at one point)

Second attempt was perfect, not as thick as yours but lovely and creamy….. made some naan bread with it too :).

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161 Valerie May 1, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I tried the crock pot method with skim milk and powdered milk. It came out so thin. I tried to run it through the coffee filter-let it sit ALL DAY and a little whey came out but not much still too thin. SO I did it this way with whole milk. Gosh that was thick yogurt this morning!
Thanks so much for this method! Much faster than crock pot, though now I have to deal with the burnt milk on the bottom of my pot, but that comes off with my fingernails.
I also ran it through a strainer into the jars. That most definitely needed to be done.

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162 Barbe May 1, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Valerie, the way I avoid the burnt milk at the bottom of the pot is to dump the heated milk into another pot before whisking in the other ingredients. Before doing that my yogurt would be graining like in texture.

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163 Jean May 5, 2011 at 9:36 am

Yesterday, I wrote on an old granola post you had regarding getting into making my own yogurt and granola for my favorite breakfast of fruit, yogurt and granola. Another good reason (and it probably has been mentioned in the past) occurred to me about doing my own yogurt is the reduction in trash. Once the individual yogurt containers are opened they are no good because they don’t have replaceable tops like some I have had in the past.

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164 april in TX July 8, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I LOVE this recipe. I am having a little problem. It seems when I heat my milk I’m losing a descent amount of volume (almost 1/4 of my total milk volume). It looks like the lactose is crystallizing (or burning) at the bottom of the pot. Am I doing something wrong or is this nomal?

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165 Kristen July 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm

If you have a thin-bottomed pan, or you don’t stir the milk regularly while heating it, a little bit will indeed stick to the bottom of the pan. This is normal, but it shouldn’t reduce your milk volume significantly.

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166 Bil July 8, 2011 at 6:56 pm

I have found if you use a slow cooker for the milk and turn it on warm overnight, it will bring it up to around 160F by morning. I turn it on high and stir once in a while and within an hour it is up over 180F.

In my new Wolfgang Puck multi-cooker, I turn it on Warm overnight and then use Steam once or twice to get the temperature over 180F. Be sure to stir several times while on steam or it will burn.

BTW, this past week I tried using Half and Half and then used a combo culture of Siggis, Chobani and Stoneyfield yogurts. OUT OF SIGHT!!! The Half and Half was on sale at Walmart for $1 which was the same price as milk… so it was worth the experiment.

Good luck!

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167 Amy August 2, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Does anyone know if I can use goat milk with this recipe? I have a daughter who is allergic to cow milk but she loves yogurt…..our grocery store carries whole goat milk so I’m wondering if anyone has tried it? Thanks in advance, might give it a shot anyway.

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168 Kristen August 3, 2011 at 6:04 am

Yes! I haven’t done it myself, but I know that the original source of this recipe used goat’s milk.

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169 David August 9, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Hi Kristen. I have been making all of our yogurt ever since I first saw your recipe on your Awesome Blog. I use whole milk, but, I have been using 130 degrees as the temp to cool the hot milk to and add the yogurt. Instead of the 120 that I see here now. Could this be the reason that my yogurt seems a bit thin compared to commercial yogurt – I eat commercial yogurt when at hotels or on vacation. I have tended to leave my yogurt in the cooler for 4 hours instead of 3 hours, it does seem to make it firmer. But when we start to use it I see a lot of whey in it, or on it. Any tips to reduce the amount of whey, or firm up the finished product? How do the commercial guys do it?
Maybe I should write to them and ask them!!

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170 ambar August 19, 2011 at 2:36 pm

how long should it be in the fridge to firm up before eating

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171 Leigh August 23, 2011 at 6:03 pm

So after two years the stars aligned and I finally made my homemade yoghurt. I have two questions for you though. First, the yogurt has a VERY mild flavor, non of the tang or depth that I associate with store bought yoghurts. Also, my yogurt seems to have a good consistency (although not quite as firm as yours perhaps) but there are “tendrils” that run from the spoon back to the jar or bowl. Not a big deal, just makes for slightly messier toddler eating! I used organic, whole milk and Stonyfield nonfat French Vanilla organic yoghurt as my starter. Were these issues due to my ingredients, process or are they to be expected when making basic homemade yoghurt?

Thanks for thoughts Kristen!

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172 Bil August 23, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Leigh,

I use regular whole milk and extra dry milk and have used Stonyfield French Vanilla as a culture. I always use a blender to add the culture to the cooled milk and then strain it through a very fine strainer. It eliminates any grainy texture and I would imagine any tendrils.

Oh, and I use a yogurt maker – the shorter the incubation time, the less tang there is. When I let it go 24 hours, it is about as sour as it gets.

Good luck!

Bill

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173 Leigh August 23, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Bill,
Thanks for your thoughts. I didn’t use dry milk or a blender and had no issues with grainy texture thankfully. I questioned Kristen for her thoughts as I am a big fan of her processes in the kitchen and I followed her technique which doesn’t involve a yogurt maker. Your process may indeed create different results but another gadget isn’t in the plans for my little kitchen!

Following the posted directions I’m curious if anyone has had similar results to mine?

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174 Bill August 24, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Leigh,

My apologies if my suggestions rubbed you the wrong way. I like to read what others are doing to make yogurt even though they may not have yogurt machines. And actually, when my yogurt thickens in as little as 2 hours as it often does, I doubt if a machine is all that necessary.

And before you dismiss my other ideas out of hand, perhaps you have either a hand mixer or even an egg beater which could be used instead of a blender. And if you don’t have a fine strainer, then strain the cultured milk through a towel or cheesecloth.

You don’t have to try any of my suggestions – but I suspect if you do you will appreciate them and what they can do to improve your yogurt making, machine or no.

I have a gallon of milk incubating on the barbe…. er, in the yogurt maker right now and I hope it will turn out again like it has each time before.

And I would like to thank all the folks on this blog who have contributed all the ideas – I know I have benefited from many of them.

Bill

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175 Kristen August 24, 2011 at 7:39 am

If you want it to be tangier, let it incubate longer…the longer it incubates, the more sour it will be.

The tendrils in my yogurt seem to be most noticeable when I’m using a fresh store starter. The longer I use starter from my own batches, the less gelatinous it seems to be. Trader Joe’s yogurts always were that way too when I bought them.

Of course, if the tendrils drive you crazy, you could just use homemade yogurt for smoothies and store-bought for eating with a spoon.

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176 Sherri August 30, 2011 at 11:58 am

Thanks for the great instruction! We drink smoothies every day for breakfast. I always like the idea of doing things myself and knowing what goes into my food. I incubated for 3 hours and then refridgerated. It’s a softer texture than the starter I used (Narragansett creamery whole plain) but it’s great for my purposes. I get my milk delivered and it has served me well for cheese making. Next time I’ll incubate a bit longer and hope it comes out more like yours. I also made it during the hurricane….maybe the weather could have had some effect on it?

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177 FrancesVettergreenVisualArtist October 23, 2011 at 12:36 am

I’ve solved the problem of milk burning to the bottom of the pot by using a double boiler. If you don’t have one, you can fake it with a metal bowl set over a pot of boiling water (the bowl has to be big enough to sit on the rim and not fall in!). Though the crockpot overnight sounds appealing.

I don’t see why ultra-pasteurized milk should be a problem — the whole point of heating the milk to 180 in the first place is to kill any bacteria (basically, you’re re-pasteurizing) so they won’t compete with the cultures you add.

I use pureed fruit to flavour yogurt, with a little drizzle of honey if the fruit is tart. Stir the honey into the fruit, then fold it GENTLY into the yogurt. I find this thins the yogurt a bit but not enough to be unappetizing. Certainly my toddler loves it.

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178 Bill October 23, 2011 at 8:02 am

We find adding flavors, granola, pureed fruit and so on after we make the yogurt to be more practical than to the dairy product to be cultured into yogurt. The reason is that we make about a gallon of yogurt each week and if we flavored it before culturing it with, say strawberry, the flavor would get mighty boring about the 3rd day.

By adding flavors etc just before eating the yogurt you have the maximum of flexibility in taste.

And sometimes even using a crockpot to heat the milk to pasteurize it can cause mild coagulation of some of the milk on the bottom and on any hot spots in the crockpot. But since I always strain the cultured yogurt into the quart jars, it isn’t a problem and it doesn’t affect the taste at all.

Good luck,

Bill

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179 Stephanie B. November 5, 2011 at 7:15 pm

I have got 3 gallons of whole milk sitting in my fridge. And since my daughter (for whom the milk is alotted) doesn’t drink the stuff I make yogurt with it. I would like to try this method, but don’t have any wide mouth mason jars on hand. Would this work if I used plastic containers, ie old yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese tubs? Or if I left it in the stainless steel pot used for heating the milk?

Currently I set my pitched milk on a heating pad, covered in a towel. But I have to stick around and turn the pad on every 15 minutes. I’d like something that I can “set and forget.” Any help is appriciated! Thanks!

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180 Kristen November 5, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Yes, I’ve used plastic containers before…the only trouble with small ones is that they float in my cooler! But if you’re using all small containers, you could just make the water level in your cooler lower.

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181 Annette November 21, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Thank you so much for posting this great recipe for making yogurt. With 4 kids we go through a lot of milk products and this is a wonderful way for us to cut down on the container waste of buying yogurt. I love knowing exactly what we are eating as well, thanks again so much!

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182 Anne January 4, 2012 at 4:27 pm

After that whole “wrap your crock pot in beach towels overnight” disaster, I had given up on making my own yogurt. I came across your site on Pinterest and am so happy. The kids and I just enjoyed a cup of our homemade yogurt and the cooler will now reside much closer to the kitchen. We are thrilled, grateful, wanted you to know that today, as well as being frugal, you were also an official science experiment. Many thanks.

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183 Kristen January 4, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Oh, that’s marvelous to hear!! I’m delighted your yogurt worked out this time. Isn’t it delicious??

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184 bobbie-sue January 5, 2012 at 12:19 am

Kristen, just wanted to say thanks. I’ve been making yogurt your way for about a year now and I’m so grateful for your post. I just made a fun little video of myself making yogurt. I hope you and your readers will enjoy it! http://vimeo.com/bobbiesue/yogurt

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185 Bill January 6, 2012 at 8:26 am

Wow, that is a neat video. Thank you.

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186 Susan January 17, 2012 at 11:58 am

Hi There Kristen,

I was very nervouos about making the yogurt. Thought it would be time consuming and not sure if it would turn out ok.

Well……………………..I love it! It was so easy and tastes great. Some store bought yogurt is tangy and that is a taste I do not like. This is nice and smooth and clean tasting. I made the Vanilla yogurt. I brought a quart to work today and have made anyone I can taste it. I have handed out at least 5 of your recipes.

Thank you so very much for your blog, I have made 5 of your recipes and love every one of them. I have passed along the Tortilla Soup and Potato Bread recipes.

Kudos to you!

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187 Jeni January 26, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I just wanted to thank you for this recipe! I have always totally hated yogurt, wouldn’t touch the stuff. But, I tried this with a vanilla starter and I actually ate a whole cup. (With grape jam added in, of course) I had to use the oven method, no cooler that small, just heated it to 170 then turned it off and put the oven light on when I put in the jars. Left it in there a little over 4 hours. Worked great, even with my husband coming home and turning off the light. I’m going to make some plain now and hope it can replace my beloved sour cream!

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188 Barbe February 2, 2012 at 5:05 pm

To Jeni:

Thank you so much for the “oven” idea! I just gave it a try and love it! No more dragging out the huge roaster oven and filling it with water, yeah! The oven method worked so well and thickness of my yogurt was even better this way. I was a little afraid at first because it was a little runny when I pulled it out, but it thickened the rest of the way so nicely in the frig.

Thank you:)

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189 Lori February 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Kristen ľ I tried this recipe using whole milk and it seemed like it worked because when I took the jars out of the cooler and tipped them on their sides, the yogurt didn’t move. I put them in the fridge all excited about the $$ we were going to save but when I later spooned it into a bowl it was pretty loose/runny and it tasted terrible. It certainly didn’t look like the firm and creamy goodness from the picture in your post. Any idea what I did wrong or something I could try differently? Thanks!

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190 Kristen February 13, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Hmm. Did you use a name-brand starter? (I use Yoplait vanilla when I need a starter) Was your incubating water high enough to cover about 3/4 of the jars? Is your thermometer accurate?

Those are the most common problems….I hope your next batch turns out better! Homemade whole milk yogurt should be smooth and creamy and mild.

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191 Lori February 14, 2012 at 8:09 am

Thanks for the reply. I will definitely try these suggestions on my next batch.

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192 Christine February 15, 2012 at 9:34 pm

SO incredibly excited!!! I just made this yogurt today and it turned out beautifully the very first time! It was VERY user friendly and my whole family loved it! I will DEFINITELY make this again (and again and…..).

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193 Kristen February 15, 2012 at 9:53 pm

That’s just lovely to hear. Yay!

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194 Christine March 4, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Okay, if I thought I loved this recipe after the first time, I am now convinced that I’m completely infatuated with making my own yogurt. I’ve made it 4 times now and it has been perfect every time! I made our most recent batch a few days ago and I thought I’d try something slightly different….I strained some of the whey out, as I saw had been suggested. Then I took our thick, delicious, vanilla yogurt (along with some fresh berries to top it) to a family gathering today. It sat amongst a small sea of chocolate mousse, cupcakes and pie on the dessert table. Wouldn’t you know…..not only did it hold it’s own, but everyone LOVED it! My mom even wanted to keep the leftovers and handed me a gallon of milk from her fridge to make more for her. LOVE this….Thank you SO much for sharing!!!!

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195 jennifer February 18, 2012 at 11:45 am

I have great success making thick, creamy yogurt from cows milk, and horrible luck with thin, slimy goat milk yogurt. So I tried an experiment:

After heating my whole cows milk to 180 degrees for 10 minutes, pouring into 3 sterilized jars, and cooling to 112 degrees, I then added 1 tsp Fage greek yogurt to each jar as a starter.

Then I closed jar 1 (control), added 1 tps powdered cows milk to jar 2, and added 1 tsp powdered goat milk to jar 3.

After 10 hrs at 110 degrees, the results were:

jar 1 – thick and creamy
jar 2 – extra thick and creamy
jar 3 – slimy and thin (note this was COWs milk yogurt and just fortified with powdered goats milk. I would have expected the extra protein to make it thicker like jar number 2, but it was like there wasn’t any cows milk present).

I would love to know why “essence of goat” ruins the yogurt texture, even if the yogurt base is cows milk… Obviously it is not a lack of protein, or fat, or anything like that. It really is too bad because I like the goaty taste!

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196 Tiff February 25, 2012 at 8:58 am

I’ve been reading your post for awhile now but this is my first time commenting. I finally attempted your yogurt recipe and to my surprise it turned out perfectly! I really couldn’t believe it!! For my first attempt I only a quart but next time I will make more for sure. I have a few questions.

I used Stonyfield as my starter because that was the only plain yogurt I could find with live cultures. I didn’t really like the taste of the stonyfield and I found that my yogurt was a little tangy like the starter. Does the starter change the taste the yogurt will have?

You said that it is recommended that you shouldn’t open the starter until you plan to use it. What if I want to use my homemade yogurt as a starter? I made it in a big jar and I opened it to serve some to my family. If I want to start using my own yogurt as a starter how does that work? do I have to make another batch as soon as I open it?

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197 Kristen February 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm

You know, I’d just use a container of vanilla Yoplait. The bit of sugar won’t affect your yogurt a whole lot, and the Yoplait cultures seem to be a bit milder.

I set one jar aside to use for a starter…if I’m really on top of things, I make a small pint jar to use for a starter the next time.

Sometimes I forget to save some, though, and I just buy a container of yoplait (the single-serve kind) and use it as a starter.

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198 Bill March 4, 2012 at 9:26 am

Hi Tiff,
Experiment, experiment, experiment! For example, I make a gallon of yogurt each week for my wife and I and strain much of it to make Greek style yogurt. Here are some things I have learned:

You can mix several cultures together like some leftover yogurt from a previous batch either unopened or opened, Chobani, Stonyfield and Activia. This all goes into my blender and I blend it all together for at least 10 seconds. Then I pour it into several small containers, mark them with the cultures in them and the date and freeze them for another day. Then I use what is leftover in the blender container by simple adding the cooled milk and blending for at least 10 seconds and pour that back into my large container of cooled milk… around 120F. Whisk well and pour into continers you use to make the yogurt and make your yogurt – I use a machine.

A couple of hints I have learned

- do not add too much culture to the cooled milk or it tends to clump and become grainy or even turn into something like cottage cheese.

- I add a cup or so of a mixture of sugar and Splenda before heating the milk to 180F. It helps the bacteria grow and sweetens the yogurt a bit.

- I strain the cultured milk into the jars with a very fine mesh strainer.

- Don’t be afraid to extend the length of time you use to make the yogurt… I have made it in as long as 16 hours or more and it turns out perfectly fine.

- Make BIG batches once you get the hang of it. Once you start using yogurt as part of your daily diet, as we do, it goes very quickly.

- If you strain your yogurt, the leftover liquid whey is good for soups and even in orange juice. I use half orange juice and half whey and sweeten it a bit with Splenda.

Experiment, experiment, experiment! You will learn so much by doing that!

And feel free to visit our website for more ideas and tips: http://mryogurt.info/

Take care,

Bill

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199 Veronica March 1, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Oooooohhh I’m so excited to try this recipe. Look like something I could do. I love making cottage cheese too!

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200 Barbe March 4, 2012 at 3:57 pm

How do you me cottage cheese? Would you post that?

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201 Barbe March 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm

make;)

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202 Bill March 4, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Hi Barbe… several points on my post and Veronica’s and your request for cottage cheese making instructions… and for any other Littly Miss Muffets out there… no slight intended:

Whenever you add acidic materials to warm milk (it can also do it all by itself under the right conditions) it will turn into the curds and whey that LMM ate. So when you add too much yogurt starter to the warm milk you are trying to culture – say a pint from a previous batch to a quart of your warm milk – the acidity of the starter can make the milk turn into curds and whey. I have had that happen several times – I just strain off the whey and eat the curd-like material. But even though it looks like cottage cheese, it really isn’t – and if you are interested in making cottage cheese, here is a recipe: http://www.cheesemaking.com/CottageCheese.html – the process is a little more complicated compared to yogurt making.

And as far yogurt thickness…. we just strain whatever kind of yogurt we have made to thicken it to Greek style yogurt. But the thickness of the yogurt right out of the jar depends on so many things… the culture has a lot to do with that as does the length of time you have it at yogurt-making temperatures. Then, of course, there are additives you can add like gelatin to artificially make it thicker.

Experiment, experiment, experiment!!!

Good luck,

Bill

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203 Barbe March 5, 2012 at 5:36 am

Thanks for the recipe Bill!

204 kristy March 3, 2012 at 6:17 pm

hi, i have a few questions on making yogart. Does this work with skim or 2% milk? Does dannon fit and light vanilla yogart work? if i use greek yogart will it make the final yogart thick. i can’t stand to eat greek yogart it is tooo think for my liking. so i am looking to make it like the consisting of pudding. how and what would i use thanks

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205 Kristen March 3, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Nope, greek yogurt starter will not make your yogurt thick…you have to strain your yogurt to make it that thick.

Skim and 1% milk will typically not produce a thick yogurt unless you add some thickeners such as gelatin. You could try adding some powdered milk to make it a bit thicker.

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206 Barbe March 4, 2012 at 4:01 pm

My yogurt seems to be a bit thicker since I started using a greek starter and putting it in a 170 degree oven for four hours.

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207 Bill March 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm

At 170F you kill all the cultures after they have done their thing… there go all the benefits from live cultures. And you probably cannot use the result as a starter…

Yogurt growth is best between about 80F and 130F max. My machine runs a little over 120F – I have seen it as high as 125F.

Now if you have your jars in a large water bath in the oven, it could well be that the temperature of the yogurt never gets as high as 170F.

Bill

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208 Barbe March 6, 2012 at 10:01 am

A while back, one of Kristen’s readers said that she turns on her oven to 170, then turns the light on and the oven off, and puts her yogurt in for four hours. This method has worked great for me. I have even used it for a starter with wonderful results, nice thick yogurt. I no longer have the hassle of a water bath and cooler. It just feels so much easier to make now.

209 kristy March 4, 2012 at 6:42 pm

thanks what would be the ratio of milk to powder milk?

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210 Bill March 5, 2012 at 1:34 pm

When I make a gallon of yogurt, I add an extra 1/2 – 1 cup of dry milk. There are several powdered milks on the market and, depending on the strength of the powder, I adjust the amount accordingly. My recipe:

2 quarts of milk made from dry, powdered milk
2 quarts of milk – no-fat – from the supermarket
1 cup combo sugar and Splenda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 to 1 extra cup of dry, powdered milk.

I add everything together except the cultures, heat it to 180F, cool to 120F, blend cultures with blender for at least 10 seconds with part of the warm milk and mix that back in to the rest of the warm milk, stir for a minute and strain into quart jars. It goes into my yogurt maker machine for at least 4 hours and up to 20 or more hours – time not critical… just gets more tart with time.

And using a mixture of cultures in a small amount (tablespoon to a cup) for 4 – 8 hours or more at 120F results in a yogurt which is usually almost as thick as Greek yogurt. But we strain it anyway for thicker Greek yogurt.

Bill

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211 Taylor March 14, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Today I attempted to make my second batch of yogurt using your method, since my first batch of yogurt did not turn out. I figured I’d start by making a small amount so I wouldn’t waste a whole gallon of milk (I use Straus Whole Milk) if I didn’t come out again. I used only 3 cups of milk to start. It took almost an hour with stirring to reach 185 degrees on medium heat. When I would turn the heat up the milk at the bottom would seem to stick but when I would turn the heat down the milk wouldn’t heat fast enough. So finally after about an hour of stirring the milk to reach to 185 degrees, I was left with 1 cup of thick milk instead of the 3 I started with. I did proceed to add the yogurt started as directed and I am now waiting for the 3 hours to be up to place my jar in the refrigerator. I’m not sure what will come of out of this especially since it was as if I made yogurt with heavy cream instead of milk. I am a little :( I want to be successful at making homemade yogurt. Can you think of anything I did wrong? Thanks.

On the flip side, I discovered how to make Alfredo sauce without using any flour for thickener.

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212 Taylor March 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Okay, so my yogurt looked thick and set up before I placed it in the refrigerator. And now after been in there for a while I finally opened it up to see what I made. Well, it looks just like the finished product in your photo BUT when I scooped out some to take a bite, it was thick and “curdly” almost like ricotta. This is the same thing that happened the first time trying it except it was runny and curdly. And suggestions on what I did wrong? Thanks!

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213 Kristen March 14, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Hmm. I know some people heat their milk by putting it in a crock pot overnight…you could try that! I always have some residue on the bottom of my pot when I heat my milk, but I just soak it and scrub it off each time.

What about microwaving your milk a bit before heating it? Then it wouldn’t have to be on the stove for long.

Yogurt should definitely be smooth and creamy, not curdled. What starter are you using? I always use Yoplait or Dannon.

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214 Taylor March 14, 2012 at 10:13 pm

I use Straus yogurt as my starter. It works best for our family to have an Organic full fat yogurt with all five live active cultures. I was happy to see it nice and thick vs my first attemp. But it still curdly like small curds of cottage cheese or ricotta. I checked the temperature before mixing in my starter. And the temperature before pouring in my water bath. And I let my starter sit out on the counter way before I got started. The only other thing I can think of is that I gently stir in my starter (not whisk), or that my temperature is off and too hot for the starter before mixing in with the milk. I so want to get this right. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

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215 Bill March 15, 2012 at 12:49 am

Hi Taylor,
Here are some suggestions which may work:
- don’t use too much starter because it is acidic and can curdle milk. For a gallon of yogurt, I use less than a cup – more like 1/2 cup and it is a mixture of several cultures including Chobani, Stonyfield, Activia and others….
- put the starter in a blender and add some of the warm milk – about a quart from the gallon and blend it for 10 seconds or more. It is really important to distribute the starter well throughout the milk – so I pour the blended mixture into the rest of the milk and stir it well. If you are only making a quart at a time, I wouldn’t use more than a tablespoon or two of the starter.

And I use a Wolfgang Puck slow cooker/rice cooker to heat the milk overnight. If I am in a hurry, I set it on steam for 10 minutes and stir frequently. Anything that sticks to the bottom get strained out of the heated milk after it has cooled, been blended with the starter and strained into quart bottles.

Good luck,
Bill

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216 Valerie March 15, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Taylor,
The same thing happened to me when I used creamline milk. I let it sit in the frige after TRYING to strain it (hoping that would help) and all that happened is the whey went to the BOTTOM…It was really weird.
I have been making yogurt the way Kristen does for close to a year (after failed crock pot attempts) and the ONE time (a few weeks ago) I used the creamline milk, what you are describing happened to me, but has nevere happened when I use conventional or organic store bought milk. I really tried to fix it since I spent $7 on a gallon of creamline milk but nothing worked. I had to toss it in the trash.
It looked like cottage cheese almost but without defined curds, kinda like a cross between ricotta and cottage cheese. I also tried to push it through a strainer and it just reclumped. I don’t know what kind of milk Strauss is, but I wonder if it is the creamline (not homogenized) like when it happened to me.

217 Birdie March 19, 2012 at 12:03 pm

I want to make honey yogurt, would I just add the honey in place of the sugar and vanilla?

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218 Lori March 23, 2012 at 8:40 am

Kristen – a few questions after 3 ‘so-so’ batches of yogurt. The yogurt never seems to firm up as well as in your picture. It looks firm in the jar (I can tip it on it’s side and it doesn’t move) but when I spoon it out, it has always been kind of runny. I use whole milk, Dannon as the starter and have a digital thermometer. So, my questions:
1) Should the starter be warmed before putting it in the milk? I have been using it straight out of the fridge, but have recently wondered if adding the cold starter to the 120degree milk makes a difference?
2) When I add 1 gallon of water to the cooler, it doesn’t come up very high on the jars. In a previous comment you mentioned that the water should come up 3/4 of the jar. So would you say that depending on the size of your cooler, just heat enough milk to cover 3/4 of the jar or should a gallon really be enough? My cooler isn’t huge, but it’s definitely larger than 4 quart jars.
3) Do you think it matters how much time passes while the jars sit in the cooler, before you add the warmed incubating water (the time between step #5 and #6 in your instructions)? Because regarding Q#2 above, last time I tried heating more milk after the gallon didn’t come up 3/4 of the jar and more time elapsed before I could get correct amount of water in the cooler.
Sorry for all the quesitons, but I really want to get this right! I’m so appreciative of your blog and have learned a ton from you arleady. :)

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219 Bill March 23, 2012 at 9:11 am

Some thoughts based on my own experience with your questions:

Pre-question: If you stir in a packet or cup of powdered dry milk to the gallon of milk as you heat it you will get a much thicker yogurt – almost like Greek yogurt. Also, the culture you use has a lot to do with thickness. Try Chobani or Stonyfield or a combo of both… just make sure you use no more than 1/2 cup or so. Keep any leftover for your next batches. And I even add ground up probiotic tablets to the culture so I get plenty of the good stuff in my yogurt.

My answer to Question 1: It doesn’t matter, really, whether the starter is warm or cold. In fact, I have seen studies of the culturing of yogurt and it will do so at almost any temperature from 40 F to 125 F. Naturally, it would take a really, really long time to culture at low temeratures. And sometimes I will let my yogurt maker turn itself off at 8 hours and then let it sit in a room temperature environment for as long as 12 more hours.

My answer to Question 2: Kristen needs to respond to this one. But I regularly culture 4 quarts of milk in my Waring Pro Yogurt maker and the water only comes up a couple of inches on the jars – but remember it is constantly heated water and I cover the yogurt maker with towels to make sure the heat is even throughout the jars.

My answer to Question 3: Kristen needs to respond to this one. I imagine if you add more hot water, things would work ok if it came up to at least 3/4 the way on the jar. And again, yogurt is made from sturdy microbes so the higher the heat – up to a max of about 125F – the faster the microbes work. They just slow down a bit when the temperatures drops and speed back up when you add the hot water.

So now you have had Microbiology 101. (Just kidding!)

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220 Lori March 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm

I actually tried Stonyfield vanilla on my 3rd batch (the worst batch so far!) after trying Dannon vanilla on the first 2 batches. The 3rd batch was also not as firm as Kristen’s just like the first 2 batches, but was also clumpy like cottage cheese. I use the whole container of yogurt which I think is 6 or 8oz. Do you use Chobani greek yogurt as a starter?
I have considered using powdered milk like some of the previous comments have mentioned but I can be a pretty stubborn person (LOL! maybe determined is a better word) and I keep thinking that I should be able to make this work since Kristen (and many others!) does it routinely with just milk and a starter! I would really like to master the process without ‘doctoring’ it up or needing to add ‘extras’. I’m trying to keep it as simple as possible I guess, although if I drive myself crazy in the process I guess I won’t have accomplished much….

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221 Lori March 27, 2012 at 8:19 am

Hi Kristen – I was just wondering if you had any thoughts on questions #2 and #3 above before I try another batch? Have you ever added powdered milk to your yogurt or does it always come out thick and creamy with just whole milk and a starter? Do you always leave the yogurt in the cooler for exactly 3 hours or do you ever let it go longer for any reason? Thank you! :)

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222 Kristen March 27, 2012 at 9:19 am

I just use whole milk and a Yoplait starter, cold from the fridge.

I do have the water coming up about 3/4 of the way up my jars. In my cooler, that’s a gallon, but maybe yours is roomier. Heat up enough water to go 3/4 of the way up for sure.

I’ve accidentally left mine longer than 3 hours, but not generally on purpose. Longer incubation will make it a bit more sour, but it’s not a huge deal.

223 Lori March 23, 2012 at 6:44 pm

I have a question.. well 2 really… 1st if I use greek yogert for a starter will my finished product be like greek yogert? And 2nd… at the cool down step… insted of adding suger and vanilla could I use a flavored jello mix… or sugar free jello mix to make flavored yogert? I’m thinking orange jello mix would make ‘creamsical’ flavor and strawberry for the kids who like there yogert fun colors too… we do lots of fresh chopped fruit on our yogert….thanks!

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224 Kristen March 23, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Nope, Greek yogurt is made by draining regular yogurt so that the whey drains out. You can totally do that with your homemade yogurt, though.

I have no idea about the jello mix, but you could give it a try and see! Do report back.

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225 Lori March 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Ok I made my first batch and when it came time to cool in the sink, I took out 4 cups into a smaller pan to try out the jello flavoring. I used 1/2 a package to the 4 cups… we didn’t like it.. the kids found it to bland and I found it to jello-ish… it will be used for smoothies. The rest of the batch I made into the vanilla flavor we all loved this batch.. can’t wait to make more, but plain… so I can make ‘creamcheese’ with it. Thanks for a great recipe I will use over and over and over!

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226 Kristen March 27, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Good to know! Thanks for reporting back to us.

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227 Beth March 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Success!

First time making yogurt and it turned out swell. I was worried when the hubby brought home Stonyfield Organic Low-fat Greek yogurt for the starter, which seemed to be the trifecta of yogurt death based on reviews, but I went ahead with hopes high.

I didn’t let the milk get quite to 185 degrees as I got impatient, and used one whole container (6-8oz) of starter to about 5 cups of milk. I used a large (1/2 gallon capacity) mason jar — don’t do that…lots of yogurt calling out to you at the bottom of the jar, unable to come out…cleanly, anyway — and cultured in a medium-sized cooler with hot water (highest “hot” tap water) filled about a quarter-way up the jar (or about half the milk line). Oh…and I added about a teaspoon of vanilla in the cooling stage.

Kiddos loved it. Hubby, too. We mixed with strawberry pulp (left-over from the juicer) and agave syrup. Definitely a “make-again”…like today. It’s already gone.

Thanks!

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228 Bill May 7, 2012 at 7:17 am

Beth,

Congratulations on your success.

Here are some thoughts I had when reading your posting:

- a cup of starter to 5 cups of milk is way too much starter to use, based on my own experience. That amount of starter can curdle the milk (the acid in the yogurt can do it) and cause it to separate. For the gallon of yogurt I make each week, I use a heaping tablespoon of starter and it works extremely well. And you might think about making up a starter combo like the Stonyfield, Activia and Chobani…. blend all together and keep in fridge/freezer (as yogurt cubes) for when you want to use it. And do use a blender to add the starter to at least part of the cooled milk.

- as you can see, you can go through a lot of yogurt very quickly. That is why we make a gallon – 4 quarts – at a time.

- try straining some of it through one of those plastic coffee strainers – I put the strainer in the top of a quart plastic container and fill the strainer to the top. Then I put the plastic lid from the container loosely on top and keep in the fridge for a day. Then I dump the yogurt contents into another quart plastic container (my Greek-style yogurt container) for use when we want it – which is a lot. The whey that is strained off can be used in soups and, suprisingly enough, in with orange and other juices. Healthy stuff, whey.

- and a delicious and quick way to use the Greek-style yogurt is to buy some of the syrup available online like peach or strawberry – I buy several bottles at once of the Torani brand through Amazon and get free shipping. Then take an ice cream scoop and scoop some of the Greek-style yogurt into a bowl and pour a tablespoon or so of the syrup over the top and stir. Yum! Quick, easy and tasty.

Good luck,

Bill

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229 sierra April 12, 2012 at 11:41 am

I really want to try this. Can you add in blended fruit when you add in the starter? I don’t like just plain yogurt and if the fruit would work I would not ever have to buy yogurt again!

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230 melissa April 12, 2012 at 3:29 pm

this blog post is so helpful! honestly I am just starting to eat yogurt, and now that I am obsessed with it I realized I spend a lot of money every two weeks stocking up. I had no idea that you could make it at home, your directions are simple and it will definitely be saving me money in the long run
my only concern is similar to ones below. Any chance you know the nutrition of the homemade yogurt? I enjoy a healthy breakfast so any nutritional facts would be great!

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231 Connie Seward April 18, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Kristen, I have to tell you, I have made your yogurt in the past and it is, hands down, the very best yogurt I have ever had in my life!

Thanks so much for posting how to do it.

You rock

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232 Carrie April 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Thanks for the yogurt recipe! The first time I made yogurt was total failure (different recipe) :( This time it worked fantastically! We get headaches from aspartame, so this is perfect! I have a 4 month old, and I can’t wait until he starts to eat yogurt, I’ll know exactly what’s in it! The only thing I did differently was put towels in my cooler instead of hot water, I was worried about my dog bumping into the cooler and knocking the jars over! Thanks again, I will be making my own yogurt from now on!

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233 Carrie April 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Oh, and I use stevia instead of sugar :)

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234 julie April 25, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I did’nt see in the comments if this was asked: Will this same recipe work for non dairy milk like soy, hemp or coconut?

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235 Lea May 1, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Thanks for this recipe. I been making it from milk kefir grains but dont like the taste. I just use it for my home made farmers cheese. http://leascooking.blogspot.com/2012/04/homemade-farmers-cheese-for-breakfast.html
I will defiantly try this recipe.

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236 John May 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm

We’ve had great success using low-fat milk to make yogurt!
Read about it over on our site!

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237 Bill May 15, 2012 at 1:51 pm

There are several points to consider:
- the microbes involved in yogurt-making are fairly robust. The only damage you can do to them is to overheat the culture which can kill the yogurt microbes. A chart I have shows that the microbes can multiply at a temperature as high as 55 degrees Centigrade which is about 125 degrees Fahrenheit. While reducing the temperature slows down their rate of multiplication – they still can be kept going strong – even under 100 degrees F. So when you cool them down and put them in the refridgerator, they are still sluggishly active and if you leave the jars in the fridge for very long, the contents will get more sour as time goes by. I have let my yogurt culture, after the initial 8 hour or so, sit as long as 24 hours or more with no harm at room temperature.

And another tip is to super-max the culture by adding more stains of microbes to it. How do you know what to do? You can find probiotic tablets and capsules on the web… I use one that has 18 different microbes in it. I add the ground up tablets or I break open the capsules and sprinkle the powder over the culture and stir it in. In my method, I will take some of the cooled milk and add that to the culture – and blend that all together before stirring it back into the rest of the cooled milk. So when the cultured milk goes into the quart jars and into my yogurt maker – it has an entire cocktail of probiotics to work with and ultimately becomes the yogurt you eat after making the yogurt.

So you can think of it as a horsepower race of sorts – and hopefully, the more probiotics the better. From what I have read elsewhere, some of the microbes have shown no value to our bodily processes. But others seem to show that many digestive aliments like colitis can be helped by the right bacteria. And there is, of course, ulcers which may respond well to treating them with certain microbes in the yogurt.

But then I have only researched what is out there on the Web and am not a microbiologist.

Take care,

Bill

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238 Scott May 23, 2012 at 3:52 pm

I made yogurt this weekend and have a quick question. I pieced together different recipes, so I could use the materials I have on hand as a way to save money. I used by cast-iron dutch oven to boil the milk and let the milk sit at 110 degrees in the dutch oven in my oven until the yogurt was complete. The consistency turned out wonderfully with descent favor, maybe a little bit too soar and a funny after taste. Do you think the dutch oven, which is cast-iron with no enamel covering, could have imparted some flavor into the yogurt?

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239 Kristen May 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm

That’s possible, I suppose..I’ve never used plain cast iron to heat my milk (my dutch oven has an enamel inside). Do you have another pot you could try?

How long did you incubate your yogurt? My recipe calls for a slightly higher temperature and quite a short incubation time, which results in a less tart yogurt.

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240 Robin May 30, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I LOVE this blog! Excellent directions, thank you do much.

A couple of things . . .one, aluminum reacts with yogurt. I use the plastic lids Ball makes specifically for their regular mouth jars and sold in a box of eight.

I make a LOT of homemade jam . . .and it’s perfect with this yogurt. For extra special occasions, I reheat the jam, pour in the bottom of my special Weck jars, and when the jam re-gels, very slowly (so not to disturb the jam) fill the Weck jar the remaining way with yogurt before placing the jars in my Igloo to set up.

First few times I made this, I used my candy thermometer. Worked fine, but I did have to keep an eye on it. Finally, it dawned on me, I could just use my Poulder digital timer/thermometer. I lay a wooden spoon across the top of the milk pot . . .then with a clothes pin, clip the wire holding the probe until its in the center of the milk, not touching the pan. Set my timer to alert me when the temp is 190 F . . . .and again, when in the cold water bath, when the temp reaches 125F (leaving the remaining 5 minute drop for me to measure the starter and prepare for pouring :)

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241 Kathy June 18, 2012 at 9:32 am

Very thorough directions! You can simplify the process (and create a lot less dirty dishes) by essentially creating a double boiler with the canning jars. Pour the cold milk directly into the quart jars then put those in the pot with water. After I get it to temp, I scoop out about 1/4 cup from each jar to mix with my starter then mix well and divide that between the jars. Walla!

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242 Heather June 22, 2012 at 8:09 am

I have had this pinned for a while and I really want to try it this summer! I will be sharing a link on my “favorite find” today. Thanks so much for the inspiration! I read you cost comparison and that was a huge motivator. I rarely buy the little cups of yogurt, but my kids get so excited when I do. I would love to have a healthy treat available to them all of the time. I also am cooking more with plain yogurt, but I use nonfat. I was hoping to make nonfat yogurt using skim milk, but I see many warnings in your post about the success of that.

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243 Bill June 23, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Hi Heather, I typical use a mix of whole and nonfat for my yogurt. Since I make 4 quarts at a time, the nonfat milk made from dry, powdered milk contains extra powder. Today, for example, I have in my 1 gallon crockpot a mixture of 2 quarts of the nonfat milk reinforced with 2 extra cups of the powder. So instead of making it up with 4 cups of powder and 2 quarts of water, I made it with 6 cups of powder and 2 quarts of water. Then I topped it off with 2 quarts of whole milk, more or less.

I also added a cup of 50-50 sugar and splenda plus a half teaspoon of iodized salt. This is warming on the warm setting and soon I will be heating it to 180F for the heat treatment. Then it will be cooled to 120, combined with a culture made of many different starters strained into the quart jars and placed in my yogurt making machine for an overnight fermentation.

Usually it comes out quite well this way. If you were to make it with non-fat milk then I definitely recommend you add extra dry, powdered nonfat milk to it so it comes out thick.

Remember, you can always strain it for a thick Greek style yogurt.

Good luck,

Bill

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244 She June 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Years ago I tried making my own yogurt and flopped. Then my daughter fell in love with yogurt and fruit, so I thought I’d give it another try. OH MY GOODNESS! This is way better than store bought. I thank you for the simple instructions and my family thanks you too. I’m sure this will become a regular menu item in our house!

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245 Pangging June 28, 2012 at 10:58 am

I just made my first batch of yogurt last night & it turned out well. So excited. I had asked my Indian friends about their way of making it-they use a lot of yogurt in their dishes like curries). I heated up 1/2 gal of 2% milk up to near boiling(they told me to boil, though). Cooled the milk to lukewarm. Added about 1/2 C of warm milk to 2 tablespoons of plain Fage yogurt & whisked to smooth consistency. Added the mixture to warm milk & stirred. Poured mixture into two 32-oz size & previously sanitized yogurt containers (used diluted bleach to sanitize them & rinsed very well). Covered. Being in the Las Vegas is in a way a blessing in the summer. I left my containers in the garage overnight & the result is an amazingly smooth yogurt that is currently in the fridge draining in coffee filter to remove most of the whey to make it thicker.

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246 Crystal July 3, 2012 at 10:51 am

I was just wandering if you could add fresh fruit to this process to make fruit yogurt?

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247 Pangging July 3, 2012 at 11:09 pm

I haven’t used fresh fruit during the process since I just started making yogurt last week. I’m sure the fruit will spoil if you add it to the warm milk with the starter. You may add fresh fruit just before eating your portion.

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248 Lyn July 3, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Is your homemade yogurt like the Greek yogurt the stores sell? I would like to make Greek yogurt.

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249 Pangging July 3, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Even better. I am able to control the amount of sugar. I have also cooked down a piece of over ripe banana & some strawberries along with about 2 tbsp sugar. I use this to top the yogurt & added some home made granola for extra fiber. I have also made frozen yogurt with the Greek style yogurt. Simply add enough milk to make the consistency lighter. Add sugar or honey, if needed-remember, when this freezes, you won’t taste the sugar as much. Add anything from chocolate chips, berries, mangoes, peaches, or anything you fancy. Place in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Alternately, place in pie pan, freeze. Good luck.

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250 Chantelle July 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I’m pumped that I found this! I had used a crock pot version for a while but it was a more involved process….I’m making it now with 1% milk and instead of a cooler, I’ve put the jars in my bigger crock, wrapped in 2 blankets and sitting in the sun! We shall see!!!

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251 Joli July 8, 2012 at 1:20 am

Wow! Great yogurt! Fast, easy and tasty! This is my first time and I cut the recipe in half. I added the sugar and vanilla , and I used recycled jars. It turned out great. The cooler thing is much better and faster than other blogs I have read that suggested using a heating pad. Thank you for sharing!

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252 Danielle July 17, 2012 at 10:46 am

WOW!!! I just made this yogurt yesterday and it is delicious!!! I am so impressed with myself! :) I tried it with a half gallon first to see how it turned out and it was so easy. I used Trader Joe’s whole milk and used 6 oz. of their low-fat organic vanilla yogurt as a starter. I am going to try a lower fat version and see how it turns out for me and the hubs! Thanks so much for this recipe. It cost me about $2.50 for about 2 1/2 quarts of yogurt!

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253 Bill July 17, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Hi,

We use our yogurt so quickly that I am thinking of going to 2 or even 3 gallons at a time. The last gallon a couple of days ago was made with 1% milk and 2 cups of non-fat powdered dry milk. And of course just a bit (a tablespoon) of sugar – had to dial back on the sugar as my diabetes is acting up.

We make just plain yogurt and make part into Greek style by straining a quart or so. We add any flavors when we serve it. At least a quart or more goes into our morning smoothies. Yum.

I am looking at warming trays with adjustable temperatures to expand our yogurt making. That way we could use 6 or more 1/2 gallon wide mouth jars in a water bath on the warming tray.

Any ideas?

Bill

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254 Ana Kayser July 18, 2012 at 11:14 am

Hi Kristen,
I made this yogurt last week and I loved it! I made the vanilla version.
Thanks for sharing another delicious, cheap and easy recipe!
Have you tried using honey or agave nectar instead of sugar?

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255 Lili@creativesavv July 27, 2012 at 11:57 am

For anyone interested, I successfully made soy yogurt last weekend, with Kristen’s picnic cooler method. I used Trader Joes blue box soymilk, and part Yoplait/part homemade dairy yogurt as starter. It turned out well. Soy yogurt comes out thinner than dairy. There are many things you can add to your yogurt to thicken it during processing (one being agar), but some of these may inhibit future batches of yogurt, if you use your old batch to make a new one. So I chose to strain my yogurt, next day, through a coffee filter, for 2 hours. The result — a rich, creamy, thick Greek-style yogurt. If you use soymilk, make sure it has some sugar in it (or add sugar), has a high fat content (compare labels on packages at the store), and high protein. The bacterial cultures need these to do their thing, and make a thicker yogurt.

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256 Bill July 27, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Lili,

I have had the same results as you have… in fact, you can make your own soymilk easily enough for a much lower cost than store-bought. And I found that adding a bit of lemon extract improves the taste.

Actually, you can make yogurt from many different “milks” like rice and almond milk.

We just use dairy milk since we are not lactose intolerant… and we make a gallon of yogurt at a time. I am looking for a larger yogurt maker so I could make 2 or 3 gallons or more at a time.

Good luck and God bless,

Bill

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257 Lili@creativesavv July 27, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Thanks for the info, Bill.
I was quite impressed with the quality of the Greek-style soy yogurt.

I do make my own rice milk from time to time (when in a pinch –think horchata), and used to make my own almond milk. I may try yogurt-ing my rice milk. I watched a woman make her own soy milk once, but never tried it myself.

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258 Peter July 29, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Hi. I just wanted to tell you what a great post this is. Very informative whilst being easy to read and digest. Unlike my yoghurt unfortunately. Recently purchased a yoghurt maker with the intention, (still have!) Of making my own yoghurt. With the machine, came a small recipe book with four or five recipes in it. I chose Blueberry Vanilla and set to, boiled the milk to 85 degrees Celsius as instructed and then cooled in a cold sink using added ice cubes to 43 c. Then mixed with dried skimmed milk, vanilla essence, sugar as I had no honey, vanilla essence and organic yoghurt starter before adding a heaped tablespoon of blueberry preserve to each jar followed by the mixture. I placed the jars uncovered in the machine and placed the plastic lid over the top. Recipe said to leave for ten hours which I did and then remove, stir together with the preserve at the bottom til smooth, place lids on and then into the fridge. Recipe states these will stay fresh for a week. I couldn’t wait to taste one but when I did, was absolutely foul. Far too sweet, sickly in fact and the combination of blueberry preserve and vanilla essence on top of the three tablespoons of sugar didn’t work at all. The only change I made to the recipe was to use whole milk when it called for low fat. I didn’t realize at the time however the addition of dried milk was to compensate for the low fat so I didn’t really need to add it. Yoghurt was sufficiently thick enough, it’s just the way it tastes. Even my dog (Canine trash can) won’t touch it. This means that being a waste not want not person, I’ve now got six remaining jars to punish myself with. I really like your method and the sound of your recipe, just wondered if you could give me an idea as to where I went wrong and any tips for future success. Also wondered if you may have a simple recipe for a mild strawberry yoghurt using fresh fruit. Thank you. Regards, Peter.

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259 Bill August 1, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Peter, Do yourself a favor and make plain yogurt! You can always stir into it whatever you want. I make a gallon of yogurt a week and half of it goes to Greek-style yogurt and half I use as-is with flavorings, preserves, fresh fruit, and in smoothies, etc. The same goes for the Greek yogurt.

We have a yogurt maker and it takes very little time to make a gallon of yogurt. That way you have plenty on hand for whatever you want it for.

Good luck and keep trying!

Bill

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260 Peter August 1, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Thanks Bill, your recommendations are a great help and I’ll be putting them into action. Regarding the above recipe, it’s supposed to have been written by a well known and top Irish Chef. I don’t think it was very well thought out to tell you the truth and can’t possibly have been tested unless by some other lifeform as it’s absolutely minging and I followed recipe quite well I thought, (With said variation). Good news though, my dog Jack has taken a liking to it so is having a pot a day. 3 to go! The other thing with above recipe was the fact that after using the listed ingredients, had about half a pint of liquid ingredients left after filling jars which due to the ten hour culturing period, would have been dead before I could have re-used machine so a real waste. Certainly wasn’t drinkable by me though cat and dog both thought it was great having the additional treat. Anyway, thanks again. Regards, Peter.

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261 Kate August 3, 2012 at 9:26 am

Just made my homemade yogurt for the first time and it was AMAZING. I used only a half gallon of whole milk (glass jar. pasteurized.) with 8oz of vanilla whole store bought yogurt, 1/2 cup sugar and 2T vanilla. So creamy and delicious! The texture was perfect! Tasted as good as store-bought! (If not better!) Thanks so much for this post!

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262 Jenn M. August 10, 2012 at 11:23 am

Hi Kristen! Thank you for posting this recipe for the homemade yogurt! I think I will give it a try, but only my daughter and I will be eating yogurt, so I need to make just the two quarts. This may be a silly question but, would you also reduce the starter from 1 cup to 1/2 cup? It makes sense to me that you would, but I wanted to double-check before starting. Also, I wonder if this would work with using the lactose-free variety of whole milk?
Thank you again for blogging so faithfully. I find your posts to be so encouraging and inspiring!

God Bless!

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263 Lili@creativesavv August 10, 2012 at 11:38 am

Jenn, I make just a half gallon at a time. I reduce the starter to 1/2 cup. The proportion does matter. I haven’t tried with lactose free milk, and would be interested as well, if this would work.
I make soy yogurt regularly now, and it always turns out fine.

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264 Penny August 21, 2012 at 9:48 am

Quick note to let you know that I have tried other yogurt recipes that haven’t worked—-this one absolutely did! I was so glad that it thickened up in the fridge :)

Thanks so much for posting this recipe.

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265 Kristen August 21, 2012 at 10:08 am

Awesome! I’m so pleased to hear that.

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266 Heidi August 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Just made the yogurt recipe last night (with 2% milk) and I am so excited! It worked!!!!!! Yummy. I put it off for a long time because I was afraid it was going to be hard, but it was really easy. Slightly time consuming because it was the first time and I stirred the milk the entire time it was heating and cooling. I am at high altitude, so I only heated the milk to 185 and it was almost boiling. I didn’t sterilize anything, just washed all the equipment in very hot, slightly soapy water first. (I figured since you don’t sterilize all the equipment, like the pots, stirring spoons, thermometer, why bother with the jars). I also left it overnight in the cooler for nine hours by accident, because I was too tired to stay up and set my alarm but the volume was off so I slept all night. It still worked!!! I used this recipe compared to the others I looked at because you put it in jars to set, and you use a cooler to keep it at the right temp. Genius…

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267 Anna August 27, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Hi, I made yogurt this weekend and forgot about it in the cooler overnight! It should have been ready around 8:30 pm and I didn’t remember it until around 12:30 pm the next day! I hate to throw it all out. Is there a way to tell if it is bad? It is a bit more sour than normal but it doesn’t really taste bad. I just don’t want my family to get sick! Any thoughts?

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268 Kristen August 27, 2012 at 10:11 pm

I think it should be fine to eat…a lot of people do culture their yogurt overnight. It just makes for a more sour yogurt.

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269 cheryl September 13, 2012 at 7:49 am

Hi I made yogurt for the first time using your method and it came out great. I put the milk in a double boiler so I did not have to worry about the milk burning. I also added two tablespoons of powdered milk. I wanted to add sugar but I decided against it since this was my first time. I will try it when next I make yogurt. I do not like commercial yogurt because most are too sweet and overpowering in flavour.
I just had a taste of my attempt it is smooth and creamy and not tart at all which is great for me. Now the sky’s the limit for what I can do with it yum.
I forgot to mention I used the cooler and I left the mixture there for four hours. The yogurt set perfectly. I live in the Caribbean so maybe that helped.

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270 ChillyBaker October 1, 2012 at 4:07 pm

I made this yogurt today after doing a little research online to find the best tasting and care-free recipe that didn’t take a lot of monitoring. I also needed a recipe that wouldn’t cost much money to make and without expensive sit-in-my-cupboard appliances. I did add some sugar and vanilla as per your suggestion and although I am a perfectionist, I find no reason to change a thing. Very simple to make and really awesome texture and flavor. THANK YOU!!!

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271 Molly October 5, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Wish I’d thought of buying jars at a thrift store! I ended up buying a whole case at Walmart, and they didn’t have quarts so I did pints – but I think in the long run pints will work out better, since my son is the biggest consumer of yogurt but couldn’t go through a quart in a week. It’s in the cooler right now so I’m very excited to see how it turns out!

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272 Bill October 5, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Molly, whatever works for you. I make a gallon a week but that is because my wife and I eat a lot of yogurt and half of it gets turned into Greek style yogurt by straining it.

Much of the yogurt goes into the breakfast smoothies we make with instant breakfast, milk, yogurt flavoring and sweetener – usually Splenda.

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273 Marvin October 7, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Put the pot of hot milk in a large basin of water. As the milk cools the water in the basin gets very warm. It is just the right temperature to pour into the cooler. There is no need to waste energy to heat water for the cooler as you already have it.

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274 Cheers October 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I’m so excited to try this, but I’m always a little hesitant about spoilage … is the bacterial culture in the starter what keeps the “bad bacteria” out of the yogurt as it’s cooling? Thanks!

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275 Kristen October 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Yep, it’s totally safe. Commercial yogurt is incubated just like homemade yogurt (well, not JUST like it…obviously it’s done on a much larger scale!) I’ve been making homemade yogurt for years now and have never had an issue with it spoiling.

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276 Ilo R October 12, 2012 at 10:42 am

I am so going to try this one. I have always to make my own yogurt, since my son eat 1 -2 of the single serves daily. But I have never seen any recipies that don’t require a special “something”!!! Thank you for the post!!

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277 Irene October 13, 2012 at 12:52 pm

This is the best yogurt recipe I have found (and I have tried plenty) – the recipe itself is very forgiving and really easy to execute.

It also works with greek yogurt or any other yogurt (as long as the yogurt you are using as a starter has active cultures)….

I am going to try it with soy milk next; I want to impress my lactose intolerant friends…

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278 Paula Perez October 19, 2012 at 9:19 am

I have had great success making soy yogurt using soy milk and a soy yogurt starter. Rice milk didn’t work for me though, for some reason.

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279 Leah October 17, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Hi Kristen, I just wanted to say that I made this yogurt today and it is wonderful! I haven’t tested it with the kids yet, but I am very optimistic. It has such a mild yogurt flavor, not tangy like most commercial plain yogurt. I used whole milk, which I normally don’t buy to drink (we use 1%) but wanted my first experience with yogurt making to go as smoothly as possible. It was easy and required very limited hands-on time. Milk was on sale for $2.99, and with a .65 cup of starter yogurt, this was a very economical, coming to .91 per quart. Will do this again! Thanks for a great recipe!

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280 Kristen October 17, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I noticed that too when I started making yogurt…that the flavor is so nice and mild. I really don’t like store-bought yogurt very much now!

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281 Jody October 18, 2012 at 2:03 am

I make my yogurt at night then put it in the oven with my electric blanket on low for the night…the oven door closed, the cord hanging out and into the electrical socket. Works like a charm.

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282 Paula Perez October 19, 2012 at 9:17 am

Thanks for the instructions! I made yogurt regularly for a while, then we kind of tired of it. Now we’re back on again, only organic, and I lost my directions! I use a “yogurt maker” (glorified heating pad/container) my mom got for me because she was grossed out by the low-tech method, LOL! I like the little re-usable glass containers it has though! I figured out yesterday that for little over the price of ONE quart of organic plain yogurt ($4 each), I can buy a gallon of organic milk ($5.50) and make FOUR quarts of organic yogurt myself! IF my teenager doesn’t drink all the organic milk up first…

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283 Kristen October 19, 2012 at 9:23 am

Isn’t it crazy how much money you can save? I love it.

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284 Camila October 21, 2012 at 11:54 am

Loved your recipe! Best yogurt ever! I will never buy it from a store ever again. Easy and delicious. Thank you! :)

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285 Sabrina October 31, 2012 at 9:18 am

Hey Kristen! Once again, GREAT recipe! It totally worked on my very first try. Which is a relief after two failed crock pot yogurt attempts. I used Dannon Plain for my starter, 1% milk, mason jars and a soft sided cooler that we use for sporting events. I was worried that this wouldn’t keep the temperature warm enough, but again it worked out GREAT! Thanks again for your repeated inspiration and help with frugal and healthy homemaking. Making my second batch today and writing a post soon and of course I’ll link back. Have a great day!

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286 Paulettte October 31, 2012 at 10:47 pm

I have tried using Greek and name brand yogurt as a starter with whole milk and both times my yogurt has come out runnier than I prefer. Do you have any suggestions to make it thicker next time?

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287 Kristen November 1, 2012 at 1:54 pm

You can try incubating it longer to see if that helps. If that doesn’t, you could experiment with adding some powdered milk to your mixture.

Fresh yogurt will not be as thick as Greek yogurt, since Greek yogurt has had some whey drained out. If you want your yogurt to be that thick, you can easily drain it through a thin towel until it’s the texture you like.

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288 Stephanie July 14, 2013 at 9:03 pm

How much powdered dry milk do you suggest adding to a gallon of yogurt, and when should it be added? My yogurt has also turned out a bit runny, like honey consistency, after 3 hours incubation.

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289 Jerry November 4, 2012 at 4:35 pm

It’s been a lot of years since I made my own yogurt and cream cheese. It was always better than the store bought, and couldn’t be easier. I noted that the critical needs, as for preparing any foods, are for spotless jars, spoons, pots, etc. Beyond that, for making my yogurt, a good pot hanging thermometer. I raise my milk temp to between 106 and 109 degrees, and if I use Dannon for the starter, I don’t need to measure how much I use. Simply scoop whatever the one teaspoon holds, mix it into the milk well, and that is all that is needed. I learned quickly not to use my home made yogurt from one batch for the starter more than 4 times. Using it more than 4 times just doesn’t turn out a good tasting yogurt.
Thanks for doing such a great job with your recipe presentation. It will help a lot of people to eat better and live healthier.

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290 Maggie November 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm

I can’t believe there are people who would choose to make such a chore out of making a batch of yoghurt. Invest in a yoghurt maker and give yourself a break. They work perfectly every time, aren’t expensive and take up very little storage space and the little individual jars hold just the right quantity for one large or two small servings. The resulting yoghurt lasts about 2 weeks stored in the fridge and the last jar can be used to start the next batch. I’m a great believer in ‘scratch’ in the kitchen and have been making my own breads by hand for nearly forty years but I think making work for yourself unnecessarily (like the above method of producing yoghurt) is not sensible. The end product is no different than the one coming out of a yoghurt maker. Spend your time learning to make your own bread instead; now that really does produce something totally unlike anything you can buy.

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291 Kristen November 10, 2012 at 4:41 pm

I think that’s great that you enjoy your yogurt maker. A yogurt maker doesn’t make enough yogurt at one time for my family of six, though, so the method I outlined in this post is much more practical for me.

I do make my own bread too. :)

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292 Bill November 11, 2012 at 6:37 am

My yogurt maker, a Waring Pro model, accepts 4-5 pint wide mouth jars or 4 wide mouth quart jars. The trick to using the quart jars is to throw a towel over the top of the unit which does not reach the bottom with the larger jars. Then set it and forget it, as they say and perfect yogurt every time.

I agree wholeheartedly that many yogurt makers do not make a lot of yogurt at a time which is counter (no pun intended) productive as well as inefficient. Remember, making Greek style yogurt requires you strain off much of the whey which reduces the amount of yogurt you have by half. So making a gallon of yogurt in our yogurt-maker at a time is perfect for us.

And another trick we use is we always make plain yogurt and then add any flavorings aftwards. In that way you aren’t stuck with a gallon of, say, lemon yogurt which can get tiresome eating after a week or so.

For more ideas, visit our site mryogurt.info – and like this blog – no charge and a huge amount of information.

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293 Irene November 10, 2012 at 7:08 pm

I believe that each of us is entitled to our own interests – you may be drawn to making your own bread, others their own yogurt, others grow their own vegetables and so on. I personally don’t like to have too many “gadgets” – but that does not mean that I am knocking it for you !

This sort of forum that we are on works best when people interested in the subject matter voice their opinions in a nice, polite but more importantly respectful way…

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294 ChillyBaker November 11, 2012 at 9:47 pm

I just wanted to thank you again… my family of six goes through at LEAST a gallon of yogurt a week. We’re enjoying strained yogurt, using it in recipes, smoothies, just as-is and so much more. I’ve never had a failed attempt and it is just fabulous… not to mention cheap!! I never had to buy a single thing! I can’t thank you enough for how simple and awesome this recipe is!!

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295 Camila November 11, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Thank you so much!!!! The more I make the better it gets! We LOVE your recipe. :) God Bless you and your family and keep sharing!

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296 Janet November 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Thank you for your directions on making yourger.. I have a yogut maker but it’s a pain since the containers are only 1 cup.. I will have to try your method in the cooler next time..Also, I never sterilzed the jars.. I will have to do that next time too. Also, my son is lactose intolerant and we make butter with whole cream . first we make the yogurt than we chill the cream than we whip it with the mixer…some of the water/milk comes off so we usally make pancakes with that. Thanks again, I will be visting your site again.

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297 Mom of 4 November 27, 2012 at 11:07 am

Help!
I was in the process of making yogurt this morning for the 3rd or 4th time (we love it!), when company arrived at the door … needless to say, my time line got re-arranged, and now I only have 2 hours before needing to leave for the afternoon. Am I better to leave it in the cooler for just 2 hours, or until I get home, which would be 6 hours … Thanks for your help!

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298 Kristen November 27, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Leave it in for six, for sure! 2 hours isn’t really enough time to let it incubate, and incubating it for six hours won’t be a problem at all. Your yogurt might be slightly more tart this way than it was the last few times, but it shouldn’t be a huge difference.

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299 April November 28, 2012 at 11:02 am

So I finally made this last night and it was very easy :) . I left it out last evening in the warm water and they thickened up somewhat. It went into the fridge this morning. I just tried a bit and it tastes good, but it’s more soupy than thick. Do you know how to make it thicker, like the Greek-style yogurts? Thank you! April

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300 morli December 1, 2012 at 2:56 pm

I use my mesh coffee filter to strain regular yogurt to make Greek-style yogurt. I place coffee filter over a funnel & place them over a used quart size yogurt tub to collect the whey. The fit is perfect. Place yogurt tub top over the yogurt or cover with plastic wrap. Leave in fridge overnight, even longer if you want really thick yogurt.
Good luck.

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301 Marsha December 5, 2012 at 5:21 pm

when making the yogurt, do you add any sweetener or vanilla and when would you add that?

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302 Kristen December 5, 2012 at 8:13 pm

I do indeed! At the bottom of the post is a vanilla version, which explains how I do that.

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303 Pangging December 7, 2012 at 11:40 am

I add a little sweetener & vanilla while I am heating the milk. Go easy on the sweetener. You can always add some honey or fruit preserves when you eat your portion.

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304 Julia December 21, 2012 at 11:17 pm

I stumbled upon your blog a few days ago and have been reading a little bit of it slowly ever since! It’s very inspiring. As for this post specifically, I would love to try making your yogurt recipe, eventually. I eat a ton of yogurt and the expense certainly adds up. I am a bit worried though, for two reasons: (1) I am not much of a cook, and (2) I’ve been eating Greek yogurts for the past year or so now and am very used to the taste and texture. Do you have any suggestions of things I should practice cooking first, or could you tell me how difficult it was for you to adjust from standard, consistent brand yogurts to hommade?

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305 Kristen December 22, 2012 at 4:57 pm

I actually prefer the homemade yogurt to the stuff from the store-it has a much milder taste, in my opinion.

To make Greek yogurt, you can just strain this yogurt through a fine-mesh sieve (leave it in the sieve over a bowl in the fridge for an hour or two). The whey will drip out and you’ll have Greek yogurt. That’s how they make the commercial stuff…by straining regular yogurt.

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306 Julia December 22, 2012 at 9:54 pm

That’s actually really good to know and makes me much more determined to learn making yogurt, thank you!

Side question – is there anything you can do with the whey once you’ve strained it out?

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307 Bukk December 24, 2012 at 10:11 am

I use a small amount of whey in soups and I mix half whey and half orange juice… great drink.

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308 Bill December 24, 2012 at 10:13 am

Oooops – should read Bill and not BKK

309 Bill December 24, 2012 at 10:15 am

A bit in soup and you can also use half whey and half orange juice for a great drink..

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310 Julia December 24, 2012 at 11:18 am

Awesome, thank you!

311 Lili@creativesavv December 24, 2012 at 11:51 am

I bake with the whey in 50/50 proportions with milk. I use it in scones, biscuits, pancakes, muffins and waffles. If I’m not going to be able to use the whey within a few days, I freeze it in 1/2 cup portions, to thaw and use later.

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312 Ananke December 22, 2012 at 6:39 pm

I made this a couple of times last year and liked it. Over the last few weeks i’ve been making it regularly and like anything, the more you do it the easier it gets. The last few batches have been amazing, really thick and creamy and my family and I can’t get enough of it.

Thanks for the recipe

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313 Janet December 23, 2012 at 6:48 am

I’ve been making yogurt for about a year and this is the best recipe I’ve tried. The yogurt turns out perfect every time. Only change I made was instead of putting it in a cooler with hot water, I just put the jars of yogurt in a stock pot with the hot water and sit it in a slightly preheated oven!

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314 Leah December 30, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Oh my goodness. This is the easiest recipe I have ever seen. My time at work has been significantly cut, until probably March, so I have plenty of time to do things like this.

I can’t wait. When and if we’re blessed with a child (I’m 35 and it will be only one) I hope to only work 24 or so hours a week and I’ll need to be as frugal as possible.

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315 Tatiana January 13, 2013 at 8:59 am

Thank you! I read several articles on how to make home made yogurt, but yours seemed to be the most user friendly! I am now eating my yogurt!

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316 Abbie January 24, 2013 at 9:21 am

I made yogurt for the first time a few days ago, and I followed your recipe exactly, with the exception of using Stonyfield Light vanilla yogurt as the starter. I used 1/2 cup sugar and 1 Tbs vanilla. Oh my, it is so good! At first I didn’t think it was enough sugar to suit me, but by the time I opened the 3 quart, I was completely hooked on the flavor. It was almost as thick as yours, but not quite. I will try it with your recommended starter next time and see how that goes.

Thank you so much for the concise tutorial! We have some serious yogurt eaters in my house, and I usually buy around $20 worth EVERY week (4 quarts of StonyField and 1 quart of Chobani). By following this recipe, I will be able to cut the cost down to around $5 per week.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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317 Jane January 25, 2013 at 2:06 am

thank you for your recipes, is it possible for future reference that you could maybe translate weights and measures into metric also

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318 Kristen January 25, 2013 at 9:06 am

I’d love to be able to do that, but I’m a one-person operation here and I’m probably not going to be able to find the time to do that. I bet there are some converter tools online that you could use to convert them yourself, though.

Hope your yogurt comes out great!

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319 Mom of 4 March 11, 2013 at 11:22 am

Hi Jane,

I know you posted this awhile ago, but I was just reading through comments, and noticed your question about metric measurements. I use a 4 L bag of milk, and about 250 ml. of starter. The temperatures above translate to: heat to 85 – 90 degrees (celcius), and cool to 48-49 degrees (celcius). It gives a little more than 4 one litre sized mason jars – I use four of those, plus one 500 ml. sized jar.

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320 Neelam January 25, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Hi Kristen, I really love your ideas and am looking forward to trying out this homemade yogurt recipe. I am just wondering though, I know that you mentioned that the yogurt will keep in the fridge for up to a month. Is this time frame for the unopened/unused yogurt only or for both unopened as well as used?
Thanks

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321 Kristen January 25, 2013 at 5:38 pm

The up to a month is for unopened jars. I’m not entirely sure how long an opened jar would last (ours are usually gone within a day or two of opening them), but it wouldn’t be a month. Maybe 3-5 days?

If that’s a concern, you could always pour your yogurt into smaller jars and then incubate them. That way you could open just a pint or so at a time.

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322 Melissa February 2, 2013 at 6:34 pm

I was just wondering if anyone has tried using any flavoured yogurt as a starter. By flavoured i mean the store bought vanilla flavour. I can only have sugar free yogurt and silhouette brand is the only one that doesnt have regular sugar in it in my area and i just bought a new container but its vanilla flavoured. Do you think it would work ok with the vanilla flavouring in it already?

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323 Kristen February 2, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Yup, I use vanilla starter on a regular basis.

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324 Eileina February 6, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Why did my yoghurt come out of the cooler runny? I am worried it won’t turn out

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325 Kristen February 6, 2013 at 10:16 pm

The most likely cause is a faulty thermometer, which may have meant that your milk was too hot when you added the starter, and that would kill the starter bacteria.

Another likely cause is an off-brand starter yogurt-I’ve had failures with those before.

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326 bobbie-sue February 9, 2013 at 1:03 pm

The good news is, if the milk turned sour but is just runny, you can still use it to make ricotta and whey. Just bring it to a boil and it will curdle, then strain it through cheese cloth.

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327 Brandy Nance February 17, 2013 at 9:10 am

Can you add flavoring to the yogurt? Like coconut or vanilla maybe flavoring that you like? If so when would you add it. Thanks so much for posting this I am excited to try his my family loves yogurt!

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328 Kristen February 17, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Yup, I add vanilla and sugar right before I add the starter.

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329 Tammy March 10, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Gosh! I feel so domestic.

My first ever batch of yogurt is incubating in my cooler as I type. I had few of the supplies on hand so picked up jars at Value Village, lids at another store, and a candy thermometer at the grocery store. I do have a meat thermometer but I think it is past its prime as just sitting on my counter at room temperature it reads 140F.

I hope I did everything correctly and that I don’t end up with something resembling milk.

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330 Tammy March 10, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Coming back to repor that there is a lot of liquid in my jars and from your finished product picture about it looks like you had no liquid in your jars after the finished setting in the fridge.

I know it can be strained but I’m wondering what I did wrong in order to have so much liquid. I used whole milk and was hopeful it would be as thick as yours above.

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331 Kristen March 10, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Oh, bummer! I was nervous yours wouldn’t turn out when I read that your thermometer wasn’t accurate. Careful measuring of the temperatures is really important for this recipe to work, and I would DEFINITELY recommend getting a properly working thermometer and trying again. If your temps are too hot, you’ll kill the yogurt cultures and if your temps are too cold, it will take much longer to incubate than what this recipe says.

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332 Tammy March 11, 2013 at 12:06 am

I think it turned out as it is supposed to after all. I do have an accurate thermometer as I bought a new candy thermometer when I noticed that my meat thermometer clearly was out of whack.

There was not nearly as much liquid as I had thought once I opened a jar. I have one jar draining in the fridge right now but when I poured it into the strainer, there was a not a lot of liquid immediately running out.

Your final picture looks like you have no liquid once yours is ready. Is that true?

Thanks so much for the recipe and all the helpful replies to our questiojns.

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333 Kristen March 11, 2013 at 8:25 am

Oh, I’m sorry-I misread your first post! =P

Mine generally does not have any liquid in it until the jar is opened and partially used. Then some of the whey tends to separate as the jar sits in the fridge.

334 Wendy Bird March 12, 2013 at 2:57 pm

A question: what do you mean by “cooler”? Is that an ice chest, like you’d take on a picnic? What size would you use? I don’t have one, but summer is coming so they shouldn’t be hard to find.

Another question: can lactose-free milk be used? I buy lactose-free yogurt for my husband but it’s (a.) expensive and (b.) hard to find.

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335 Kristen March 12, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Yep, like an ice chest…an insulated box. Mine is a fairly medium size…just a little bigger than it needs to be to hold 4 quart jars, as you can see in the photo.

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336 Lili@creativesavv March 12, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Wendy, I can’t have lactose myself. I make soy milk yogurt. I use Trader Joe’s blue box soy milk. It comes out slightly thinner than the dairy yogurt I make for the rest of the family. I strain it on the second day to thicken it up a bit.

If by lactose-free milk you mean something like Lact-Aid milk, the Lact-Aid milk in our area is ultra-pasteurized. On several sites I have found that ultra-pasteurized milk has not been successful for making yogurt. I didn’t want to waste the $3.50 on the Lact-Aid to find out for myself. I’d be interested in hearing any first hand experience on using the ultra-pasteurized milk.

I don’t if your husband would be interested in soy milk yogurt, but I’ve been very satisfied with the results.

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337 Rob March 13, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Thank’s for the instructions. I found an error in your instruction. To sterilize equipment, you need to heat it to 250F, something you can’t do by boiling water at normal pressure. You can do this with a pressure cooker, but given your success with your method, sterlization is probably overkill.

What your doing may be considered pasteurization, as you are heating the equipment to temperatures above 160F, which kills most pathogens. You could also use Starsan or Iodophor, which are used in brewing to achieve the same ends.

Another tip from the brewing world is regarding boil-overs. We often use a chemical that goes by the brand name Fermcap-S. It is a detergent. Just add a drop or two when the foaming begins and the foam will break up. The bacteria might eat the chemical later, if they are anything like yeast.

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338 Alicia March 19, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Hi there!
I am dying to try this but I don’t have a cooler and I actually don’t have a crock pot either… is there anything else I could do to achieve the same results??

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339 Kristen March 19, 2013 at 3:34 pm
340 Janet March 19, 2013 at 3:42 pm

I put mine in a stock pot with 120 degree water and put it in a slightly warm oven with the light on. Works great!

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341 Deneen Klein March 20, 2013 at 9:08 pm

I made this recipe over the weekend and my family loves it. I was extremely surprised that it work just like the directions said. We are enjoying it so much that we are now throwing new items into it – such as – strawberry jam and I am now making homemade granola to put in it. We plan on freezing it too. Thanks again for sharing this recipe. I love it!

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342 Veronika March 21, 2013 at 3:08 pm

why did my yogurt didn’t thicken up, is it because I forgot to put the warm water in the cooler when I cooled them

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343 Kristen March 21, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Oh yes, you definitely need to have warm water in the cooler. Otherwise, it will get too cold for the yogurt cultures to grow.

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344 Veronika March 22, 2013 at 4:30 pm

can I fix it???

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345 Kristen March 22, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Well, that can be a little bit disastrous, as I’ve discovered…you’d probably end up with separated milk during the heating phase. I’d use this batch for smoothies, and then try again with incubating water next time!

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346 Anna March 25, 2013 at 5:31 pm

will fat free milk work?

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347 Kristen March 25, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Yes, but your yogurt will be thinner and not as creamy.

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348 Alana April 2, 2013 at 4:43 pm

So happy to have found your post about yogurt and excited to read more of your blog! :) Thanks!

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349 Laura April 4, 2013 at 10:24 am

THANK YOU for the easy recipe with great directions! I’ve looked all over the internet at a lot of homemade yogurt recipes, and yours was by far the easiest. I tried it this morning, and OH MY GOODNESS, it was so delicious! Thick, creamy. I just can’t say enough. I had some heavy cream on hand (yeah, terrible for me, I know), and I substituted that for part of the milk. It worked great!

Also, if someone doesn’t have a cooler or slow cooker, I turned my oven to “warm” (under 200 F) while the milk was cooking, then turned it off. Then I put the jars in a towel-covered baking pan, and put that in the oven with the light on for the amount of time you have in your recipe. Worked great!

Question: All of the other recipes I’ve seen say to leave it in the “incubator” for 8-10 hours. Why does your recipe work in half the time?

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350 Kristen April 4, 2013 at 1:18 pm

That’s because I’m incubating at a pretty high temperature. Most other incubation methods are lower than 120 degrees F and/or are indirect heat, whereas in this recipe, the jars are directly touched by the hot water.

So glad your yogurt turned out well!

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351 Natasha April 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I have followed this recipe multiple times and my yogurt has always turned out. This time I noticed I had accidentally bought fat free yogurt. I used it anyways as it was very thick, but a day later and my yogurt is still runny. Can I reheat it and add more yogurt to it?

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352 Kristen April 9, 2013 at 1:47 pm

That might turn out weird…I tried it once and ended up with some pretty disgusting curds and whey. I’d use this batch for smoothies and start fresh next time!

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353 Alana April 9, 2013 at 1:54 pm

I tried your recipe and added a few tsp vanilla, it turned out very watery… Not sure how to avoid that next time. Could it have been from the vanilla or the type of milk I used… Used homogenized milkfish organic. It still seems good but seems to leak out water. Thanks for sharing! Love your blog! :)

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354 Kristen April 9, 2013 at 1:56 pm

If your milk was ultra-pasteurized, that could be the problem. Generally organic milk in the paper cartons is ultra-pasteurized.

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355 Alana April 14, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Thanks, I’m going to try non organic milk this time… Thought I really wanted my own organic yogurt. Ill keep searching for ways to make that work. I’m hoping to find an organic non pasteurized milk source. :)

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356 tim April 14, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Ive tried this twice, and after three hours in the cooler it is as runny as when it went in, i used whole milk and fresh starter. but it never worked

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357 Kristen April 14, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Hmm. Are you positive that your thermometer is working correctly? Is the water in your cooler reaching almost all the way up the jars?

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358 Janet April 15, 2013 at 5:34 am

I’ve found that mine can take as long as six hours to set up. Also, I’ve had 2failed batched and discovered my thermometer was off by about 8 degrees, so i was adding my starter when the milk was still too warm. New thermometer=perfect yogurt.

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359 Janet April 15, 2013 at 5:34 am

I’ve found that mine can take as long as six hours to set up. Also, I’ve had 2 failed batched and discovered my thermometer was off by about 8 degrees, so i was adding my starter when the milk was still too warm. New thermometer=perfect yogurt.

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360 Joy S April 17, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Hi, Thanks for the great tutorial. Can’t wait to make this! Just a quick question though… have you ever used honey or maple syrup instead of the sugar for the vanilla recipe? Wondering how that would turn out and what amouts to use… Thanks for a reply:)

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361 Kristen April 17, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I haven’t, but you could certainly experiment with it. I think it would make the yogurt a little less thick, since maple syrup and honey are both liquids.

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362 Bill April 17, 2013 at 4:34 pm

I have heard that honey will kill the cultures in yogurt if you put it in at the beginning. We things like honey and flavorings in after the yogurt has set.

Bill

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363 Bill April 17, 2013 at 5:16 pm

That should read “… we add things like honey…”

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364 Joy S April 22, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Thanks:) I decided to do it plain and we have just been adding a little maple syrup to our yogurt when we eat it. So yummy! I’m so excited how great it turned out! I made a gallon a couple days ago and its almost gone already! My kids are crazy over it :) I also made some of it into greek and it is fabulous! Thanks so much for the recipe.

365 Laura C. April 21, 2013 at 8:03 pm

I have made your yogurt several times and we all love it! I have a couple of questions?
1. Has anyone followed your method for raw milk? I have switched to raw for our drinking milk but am nervous about wasting it in an attempt to make yogurt.

2. I ade some yogurt about a month ago and it still tastes great. My understanding is that it doesn’t go bad, just gets stronger. True?

3. My starter is about a month old as well. Will it still be viable for making a new batch? I am almost out and ready to make more.

I hate wasting food and wanted to check on these items before I started cooking.

Thanks so much for the help!

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366 Kristen April 22, 2013 at 5:26 am

Raw milk works just fine for making yogurt…better, actually! The yogurt tends to be thicker.

The only time I’ve ever had yogurt go bad was when an opened container sat in my fridge too long. The unopened jars stay good for quite a long time. I suppose eventually they’d go bad, but I haven’t tested it out because we eat it too fast!

The starter that’s a month old should be fine, although in full disclosure, I’ve never used one that’s a month old, so I’m just guessing here.

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367 Joy S April 22, 2013 at 1:14 pm

I used raw milk and it turned out great:) We, for the most part, drink only raw milk so I was happy that it worked!

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368 Laura C. April 22, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Joy. Thanks for the success story on raw milk. We only drink it as well but read about some issues when using it to make yogurt. Question. Do you follow Kristin’s method? Heat, cool, starter, incubate, chill? Same amount of starter? Does it thicken well?

Thanks

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369 Joy S April 23, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Laura, I followed her method except I left the yogurt incubated in the cooler closer to 6 hours. It was surprisingly thinker than I thought it would be. Also, I then made half the yogurt into greek by straining it through a dishtowl in a collinder over an ice cream pail in the fridge overnight. It turned out wonderful! Good luck:)

370 Jody May 7, 2013 at 12:42 pm

new at this going to try it got fingers crossed

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371 Alana May 7, 2013 at 1:23 pm

So I tried it again using regular milk not organic, it’s much less watery and thicker but it seems slimy. When I scoop the yogurt strings seem to be attached to the contents still, it reminds me of egg yolk. It tastes fine I think. Any ideas abot the “stringy slime”?

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372 Karen May 17, 2013 at 11:27 am

Ok, I searched the internet for yogurt makers for 2 weeks and then decided not to buy any of them. For one, there were such mixed reviews and two they all seemed to be made in China and I’m a USA buyer! So last night, I made this using a quart jar and a tall Coleman thermos/cooler that is made for holding water/liquids. The jar fits perfectly in it. The yogurt came out beautiful. It sat for about 8 hours, and the consistency is thick. Can’t wait to eat it after it has cooled!

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373 Melissa May 25, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Do the jars have to be sealed (new lids) when you put the warm milk in?

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374 Kristen May 25, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Nope-these aren’t sealed like canned tomatoes would be (you have to store the finished yogurt in the fridge.) So you can use old lids or the plastic reusable lids that Ball sells.

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375 Amy May 31, 2013 at 10:01 am

Are you careful about not disturbing it before it’s cooled in the fridge? I used whole milk and good yogurt, and it’s a little runny. How long does it need to refridgerate before it’s solid? I used greek yogurt, will that affect the consistency? Can I put it back into a crock pot after it’s been cooled to let it warm for a few more hours to get it thicker?

This is my second attempt, and it’s just not working out for me :(. Maybe my third time will be the charm.

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376 Kristen May 31, 2013 at 10:58 am

Some batches I make are more runny than others, but I’m not sure why. Did you incubate it in the crock pot or in a cooler?

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377 Amy May 31, 2013 at 11:03 am

Ok, that’s good to know. Well, I hadn’t found your recipe until this morning, so my attempts have been with other methods. This last time I tried incubating with them wrapped up in a towel. Next time I’m going to try your cooler method. Do you use raw milk, or store bought whole milk? I just used my daughters Vit D whole milk and have never bought raw milk before. Have you tried using a greek yogurt to start?

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378 Kristen May 31, 2013 at 11:11 am

Ohhh, ok! Well, yes, definitely give this method a try. I think it’ll work out for ya. Just make sure to be precise about your temps, and make sure your incubating water comes at least 3/4 of the way up the jars.

Store-bought whole milk works fine, but don’t buy the ultra-pasteurized sort (the kind in a waxed carton). The type in plastic milk gallons is typically not ultra-pasteurized. Raw milk also works really well but it’s not necessary.

I have not used Greek yogurt, but I’ve heard of other people doing it with success. I’ve had great success with Yoplait and also have used Dannon. I had a failed batch with a store-brand starter once, though.

Just so you know, you can use your runny yogurt to make smoothies…no one will ever know it wasn’t firm. ;)

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379 Savannah May 31, 2013 at 2:08 pm

This may have already been asked but I don’t have time to read through the 300+ comments :)

Can you directly add fruit to the jars such as blueberries or blackberries? Or should this be done using fresh berries when you decide to eat it?

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380 Kristen June 1, 2013 at 9:13 pm

It works better to add them right before you eat the yogurt, because adding it to the yogurt itself tends to make the texture a bit watery.

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381 Bill June 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Savannah, You can add lots of things just before you serve the yogurt. After putting it in a bowl, we add granola and a fav jam like sugar free strawberry. It doesn’t take much to flavor it. And there is a world of extracts and flavors out there… Take care and good luck. Bill

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382 Hartleystudio June 2, 2013 at 12:50 am

We have been making yogurt for years and we use a commercial powdered starter that we get in the health food section of our grocery store. Lots of commercial yogurt manufacturers, like Stonyfield, have proprietary cultures that just won’t work making yogurt at home. I have had much more consistent results at home and I think it might be cheaper than buying a cup of yogurt. I always forget to save some for the next batch. Also, don’t sweeten with honey before you incubate, it won’t set up. I have learned this the hard way twice…once initially and then again about a year later after I forgot my first mistake.

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383 Stefanie June 2, 2013 at 6:17 pm

I am trying this recipe for the 1st time. It is super easy. My only questions is if you make a half batch do you need to reduce the amount of the yogurt starter? I ended up with more than I could fit in my 4 pint jars for a half batch.

Thanks!

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384 Kristen June 2, 2013 at 8:29 pm

That makes sense to me, but I’ve never made a half batch, so don’t take my word as gospel. Report back if you try it that way!

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385 Stefanie June 10, 2013 at 10:32 am

Thanks, I got nervous and used the whole culture. Lol. My husband and I loved the yogurt so much we polished off the half batch in a week! I used my yogurt from the previous run as the started for my new run and it turned out great!

I was wondering though, is the yogurt usually thinner in the middle? The top, bottom and sides are sturdy and thick but the center seems to be more soft. Is that common?

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386 Stefanie June 10, 2013 at 10:32 am

Thanks, I got nervous and used the whole culture. Lol. My husband and I loved the yogurt so much we polished off the half batch in a week! I used my yogurt from the previous run as the started for my new run and it turned out great!

I was wondering though, is the yogurt usually thinner in the middle? The top, bottom and sides are sturdy and thick but the center seems to be more soft. Is that common?

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387 Sophie June 5, 2013 at 11:08 am

Hi there,
I stumbled upon your recipe today and am keen to give it a shot.
I don’t know if you are still posting on this site but I wanted to talk about your post and your recipe in my blog. I have added the link to it in the “website” field. I hope it is ok if I link to your site and use one of the photos in mine, please contact me asap if you would like me to take it down!
Thanks, Sophie

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388 Kristen June 5, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Yep, that’s just fine!

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389 Christine Watson June 11, 2013 at 10:50 am

Hi,

My friend and I both enjoyed this recipe for many months, thank you. For some reasons neither of us can make it firm up anymore. We both have double checked starters, milk, thermometers etc. One thing we can think of is the seasonal change from winter to spring. I know that seems like we are reaching for an answer but we are really trying to figure out the problem. We have used several gallons of milk without getting yoghurt and getting a little swayed from doing it anymore. Can you share has this ever happened to you before? Have you gone through a period where it would not just set? Any suggestions? We would really appreciate your feedback as we too are frugal and hate to lose a good thing.

Thanks.

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390 Kristen June 11, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Oh man, that stinks! I wish I knew what to suggest. You’re positive your thermometers haven’t gone wonky, right? Have you tried a different brand of starter?

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391 Heather June 18, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I followed the directions to a “T”, but after 3 hours my yogurt was pure liquid? I have some in the fridge and kept some in the cooler waiting to see if time will thicken either way. I did add the vanilla & 1/2 cup of sugar and I used 6oz of chobani Greek yogurt, instead of the others. Any advice or is this batch a total flop?

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392 Kristen June 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm

I know people have used Greek yogurt as a starter with success, but I almost always use Yoplait and have great results.

If this batch doesn’t thicken up in the fridge, I’d use it for smoothies, and try again with a Yoplait (or Dannon) starter.

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393 Lyndy June 27, 2013 at 8:21 am

I used your recipe to make my first batch of yogurt. After refrigerating overnight the yogurt did not thicken. What did I do wrong? Can this same batch be reheated for another try? Thx

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394 Kristen June 27, 2013 at 9:44 am

I had a dud batch once that I tried to save and the results were terrible! I recommend using this batch for smoothies.

Common issues are a faulty thermometer, an off-brand starter (I use Yoplait.), or ultra-pasteurized milk.

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395 Emily M June 27, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Oh bummer. :( Ditto to what Kristen said – and keep trying, it really will be worth it!

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396 Emily M June 27, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Good morning all :),

I just wanted to pop in and say last night I made my 4th batch of homemade yogurt from this recipe, and up until last night it turned out beautifully! Alas, last night I followed the recipe exactly, except I forgot the part about using generic yogurt. And yes – it was a major fail. I now have 4 mason jars of milk! So strange that the generic brand makes a difference? I wonder if they don’t use live cultures? Anywho, just a warning to others reading and learning this – use the good starters just like FG’s recipe says. I’m not too bummed, still going to use the milk for granola, etc. You know what they say – no use crying over ruined yogurt!

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397 Heather June 27, 2013 at 12:45 pm

I read other yogurt recipes that say to allow the jarred yogurt to rest in a warm bath for 7-10 hours, rather than just 3hours. So the batch that I thought was a dud ended up working! I let it set for an additional 5 hours and it thickened.

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398 Lynn June 27, 2013 at 11:50 pm

WOW I have to try this !! We eat A LOT Of yogurt. Its pretty pricey for as much as we consume weekly. How would you add fruit to this ?? Such as peaches, blueberry or strawberry. As those are the family’s favs. Can’t wait to try this ! Thanks for sharing !!

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399 Kristen June 28, 2013 at 8:18 am

We stir in fruit after the yogurt is made…when we serve it. Adding fruit during the yogurt-making process has always made mine too watery.

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400 Kelle July 4, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Help… I made yogurt (tried). I found recipes that used almond milk so I did a half gallon (in case it didn’t turn out). I precisely followed directions of heating to 180, cooling to 110, adding 1/2C yogurt to some of the warm milk then adding that to the whole batch, poured into jars, incubating 8-12 hours. Then into the refrigerator. They have been in the frig about 8 hours now and it looks like curdled milk!! I haven’t opened it yet, hoping that a longer time in the frig will make it thicken up. I have heard of adding gelatin but I don’t know if it is too late for that and am not a fan of gelatin powder (knowing where it comes from). Any thoughts? Thank you so much.
I used the recipe from creatingnaturally.com which seems pretty much the same as any I have come across.

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401 Bill July 7, 2013 at 9:40 am

Hi Kelle. I have tried a whole range of non-dairy “milks” but I have the best luck with plain old whole milk with a bit of sugar and a pinch of salt added. For extra thickness, I add powdered dry milk. I just made a gallon of it last week and it turned out perfectly.

And I tried to find your recipe on creatingnaturally.com but all I found was a crockpot recipe for plain whole milk.

For me, making yogurt is a robust process – especially when using regular milk. We have probably made 200 gallons of it since starting several years ago with no failures. And the savings are incredible – in excess of $1,000 per year. And the thing is, the culturing process is supposed to reduce lactose intolerance – especially if you wait as much as 20 hours or longer before refridgerating it.

Why not try a plain batch using regular whole milk and once you get the hang of it, try experimenting from there?

Just some ideas for you to think about – hope you have better luck the next time.

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402 Hong July 6, 2013 at 9:36 pm

I bought wide-mouth jars and tried your recipe. It came out very good. It tasted very smooth and natural. Thanks for sharing !

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403 Steve Schimpf July 6, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Kristen,
I applaud your recipe,..and I will try it tonite, (07-05-13), however, I lived in Tehran, Iran during turbulent times,..the ousting of the SHAH,..etc., and I made my yogurt there in a more barbaric way, if you will,..i.e. no sterilization, not as many steps as you’ve provided. All was done room temp., added 2 tblspoons of “Yogurt” in a pan of milk and covered it with cheesecloth,..put it in the oven (NOT ON) for 48 hrs.,..and presto,..there was my yogurt,..delicious and wonderful.
BTW, spoke to a woman from India yesterday, who told me if I wanted to make buttermilk (I love Buttermilk), instead of milk use water and the starter of yogurt. I’m going to try it. Thanks for your listing.
Happy Yogurting!
Regards,
Steve

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404 Kristen July 7, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Yes! I want to make buttermilk…I really should get around to that.

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405 Stephanie July 14, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Hi, I tried to make vanilla yogurt, I used my candy thermometer for everything, trying to follow the recipe exactly. My yogurt didn’t set up very well. I’d say it’s honey consistency. I used about 8oz activia yogurt as my starter. Any suggestions?

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406 Kristen July 14, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Hmm. I’ve never used Activia before, but it does seem like it would work.

Did your water come about 3/4 of the way up the jars?

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407 Stephanie July 14, 2013 at 9:07 pm

I did have it 3/4 up the jars, and I made sure it was 120. Maybe it should incubate another hour next time? I’ve had two batches of flops, but I don’t want to give up yet! My 2.5 year old absolutely loves yogurt, and me and my husband eat it too, so I’d like to save some money!

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408 Holly July 20, 2013 at 11:46 am

My cousin had a problem with yogurt setting. I never did so we worked a batch together. My cooler is a tight fit lid and the water temp is still about the same after 3 hours. Hers was a loose fit cooler and the temp got down around 100 at the end. I use water only at the bottom 1/4 of jars and she filled to 3/4 up jars. So she has my spare cooler and no more trouble. Make sure your lid keeps that heat in! And if it does, lower the temp a few degrees. Mine goes in at 115-117 degrees so it wont go too hot. And its pretty constant.

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409 Bill July 14, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Hi Stephanie, since the yogurt culture you use must be alive and well when you use it, I like to take hold-over yogurt from my previous batch and add 3 different kinds of yogurt like Chobani, Activia and Stonyfield and blend them all together. Then use about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the blended yogurts for culturing my next batch of yogurt, keeping some of the left-over tri-culture in the fridge and freeze the rest in small batches. In this way, I am assured of having a great start for my next batch of yogurt as well as future batches.

And when you do mix the culture mixture into the cooled milk – must be no more than 120F – blend it in a blender. You must get that culture evenly distributed throughout the cooled milk.

Using this method makes sure your batch of yogurt-in-making is properly cultured and the same holds true for subsequent batches for which you have stored the “triple yogurt” culture.

Good luck and let us know how your next batch turns out… I will need to make another gallon this week – probably tomorrow if I get by the store for some more milk.

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410 Stephanie July 14, 2013 at 9:10 pm

I could get a few different kinds. I used a whisk with each of my two batches. I could use a hand mixer next time. I want to try at least one more time! I think I’m going to put some of my soupy yogurt into my ice cream maker tomorrow and see what happens. I hate to throw it out!

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411 Heather July 14, 2013 at 9:10 pm

I would keep it in the warm bath for another 3-4 hours. Same thing happened to mine, but it got thicker after several hours.

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412 Lori July 16, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I loved making the first batch, but I will say that it wasn’t quite as thick as I’d like it. It wasn’t as thick as yours appeared. And upon stirring, it basically turned very liquid, like melted ice cream. I used whole organic milk (at $5/gal, definitely not cheap), and an entire small container of yogurt, so am not sure what went awry. Any thoughts since you’ve made many times?

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413 Kristen July 16, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Hmm. Was your milk ultra-pasteurized? U-P milk doesn’t make very thick yogurt, usually.

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414 Stephanie July 17, 2013 at 11:50 am

I’d like to add powdered milk to help thicken my yogurt. Any suggestions on how much I should add?

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415 Holly July 20, 2013 at 11:34 am

Hi all! This heat and humidity was wreaking havoc on my yogurt. It was runny and seeping a lot of whey. I played a bit and found a winning solution. I use 1% milk so if you don’t then try different measurements. I added 1.5cup powdered milk + 2 packets plain gelatin (if you find and can afford grassfed, its the best) but I used store brand for my experiments. You simply add these to the milk while testing and make sure to whisk it extra to get the gelatin dissolved well. The result was impressive. Nice and thick and creamy much like a greek texture. Whey did not seep out after 5min on counter in bowl and about 2 hours later I did not have any to drain off when I went back for my daughters snack.

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416 Holly July 20, 2013 at 11:37 am

Oops! Add to milk while HEATING not testing.

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417 Mary July 27, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Hi Kristen,

When using the white plastic lids, do you sterilize them along with the jars? My first batch didn’t thicken – urgh! I didn’t add enough water to reach 3/4 height on the jars – and it might have been too hot. Also, I added 6oz of Tillamok brand yogurt to 1/ gal of milk.

I’m about to give it another try, though – looks amazing – and there is no question what’s in it!

Thanks!

Mary

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418 Kristen July 29, 2013 at 8:20 am

I don’t, and so far, it’s been just fine without the sterilization.

Definitely be careful with the temps-it’s important to be precise in this recipe.

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419 Jeanie August 12, 2013 at 10:40 am

How much fruit is reasonable to add to a quart of the finished yogurt? Thanks.

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420 Kristen August 12, 2013 at 12:34 pm

I just add it to individual bowls as we eat it, so I’m not too sure. I think the texture of fruit is nicer when you add it right before you eat it.

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421 Jeanie August 12, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Thank you. I ask because I was hoping to bring yogurt to a party, but I guess I could have fruit on the side for people to add themselves.

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422 Jeanie August 12, 2013 at 9:46 pm

My recipe called for dry milk to be added to the other milk. I forgot to do this until *after* heating. I hope it wasn’t too late…?

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423 Bill August 12, 2013 at 11:31 pm

If the milk was warm, it probably helped the dry milk dissolve, IMHO. I don’t think it matters when you add it – I have added it before heating and it worked fine and I have added it to the hot milk and it has worked fine. I wouldn’t wait until the milk has cooled from heating as you don’t get the benefit from the pasteurization process which would kill any bad organisms in the powered milk.

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424 Jeanie August 13, 2013 at 12:05 am

Thank you so much for taking the time. I added the powdered milk while the other milk was still hot, luckily.

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425 Lorie August 15, 2013 at 10:39 am

Ok…I came across this on pinterest. I am a pretty handy person, if I do say so myself…but I really didn’t think this would turn out. IT DID though!!! and has been an amazing addition to all of the dishes I make. I use it often in place of sour cream, and of course I have started making whole rolled oats refriderator oatmeal. this has been wonderful. Thank you for sharing. Oh, and the hubby thanks you too!!

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426 Trudi van der Berg August 15, 2013 at 11:25 am

Can you please convert your gallons and quarts to the metric system. Very confusing for someone in South Africa! The US and UK conversions also differ and I’m not sure whether I sould use 3.8l ir 4.5l???

I’m very exited to start, just waiting for your reply…

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427 Kristen August 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Oh, gosh, I’d only be able to help by using the online conversion tools too, since I don’t use the metric system. Is there no good tool out there on the web?

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428 Trudi van der Berg August 15, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Yes, there are a few, but I need to know whether you use the US or the UK measurements? They differ as the one says 1 gallon is 3.8l and the other 4.5l. ??

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429 Trudi van der Berg August 15, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Yes, there are a few, but I need to know whether you use the US or the UK measurements? They differ as the one says 1 gallon is 3.8l and the other 4.5l. ??

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430 Jeanie August 19, 2013 at 8:57 am

I think my yogurt failed this morning. :-( Can the result be used some other way, so I don’t have to waste it? That would also keep me from being discouraged from trying in the future.

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431 Melanie August 19, 2013 at 7:46 pm

I would love to know the same thing as Jeanie. Mine failed yesterday too and I hate to waste all of that organic milk, not to mention the time and effort that went into it ;)
Mine failed because I took the risk of using Greek yogurt as my starter. It was the only “plain” yogurt I could find at the store at the time (I had to buy because my previous batch was used up). ugh. I learned that lesson the hard way. So, take it from me, never use Greek Yogurt to try and start your batch!

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432 Kristen August 20, 2013 at 7:13 am

You can use your failed yogurt in smoothies or in place of buttermilk when you make pancakes or waffles.

I’ve heard from several people that Greek yogurt hasn’t worked. I wonder if some of the cultures drain out when they drain the whey or something.

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433 Jeanie August 20, 2013 at 7:23 am

Thank you. What about pudding? That was my mom’s suggestion.
I’ve read that one needs to use just-opened yogurt for a starter. I used the same yogurt I did on my first batch, so maybe that’s why mine failed.

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434 Kristen August 20, 2013 at 7:29 am

If it’s instant pudding, requiring no heat, then that would probably work. But in my experience, heating a failed batch of yogurt results in separation because even if it’s super liquidy, there are still some cultures in there and when you heat it, you’ll probably end up with curds and whey.

435 Irene August 20, 2013 at 7:30 am

I ONLY use Greek yogurt in mine (but always the same brand) and mine has always worked beautifully….

I use FAGE yogurt (available at WalMart & Harris Teeter & military commissaries for sure)

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436 Bill August 20, 2013 at 9:02 am

In our years and years of yogurt making, we find using our yogurt maker machine takes out the guess-work and we have never had a failed batch. And that is for hundreds of gallons of yogurt.

Today I was notified that the article we posted on http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Yogurt-By-Machine has now been read 10,000 times – so you may want to review it to see if using a machine is for you.

As long as you use a thermometer to check temperatures when you temper and cool the milk and use a culture with live bacteria in it and blend it in well and use your yogurt maker to heat and time the culturing yogurt, you will always turn out quality yogurt.

Good luck!

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437 Jeanie August 21, 2013 at 3:38 am

Thanks. As a matter of fact, that’s how I’ve been making yogurt (with a machine). I haven’t been using a thermometer though. I made pancakes with the failed yogurt, and YUM!

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438 Bill August 21, 2013 at 8:02 am

A Russian lady who cuts my hair at the barber shop said her family makes yogurt all the time. You can heat the milk to boiling and then cool it down – if you can hold your hand against the side of the pan for 14 seconds then it is cool enough to culture… so you do not really need a thermometer. I use a thermometer to make sure the temperature gets to 180 – 190F for 10 minutes. Then I cool it.

There are a couple of things that can prevent the yogurt from culturing properly – overheating, inactive cultures, and use of inappropriate milk. So the best bet is to use a thermometer, make sure the yogurt has active cultures and an expiration at least a month in the future. And use plain, pasteurized whole milk to be sure… add some sugar, a pinch of salt and some dry powdered milk.

Good luck!

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439 Sandra Byrd August 25, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Frugal Girl, delighted to see that your yogut lasts up to a month. All other recipes with raw milk suggested 3 – 4 days but they also included straining whey out. Yours had no straining included. So does leaving whey in the yogurt make the yogurt last longer and of course it would be much healtheir with the whey left in it. I would really appreciate knowing why yours lasts longer. I will certainly stop straining. Its really a headache for me. I was very excited to come across your website. It was colorful, interesting and easy to understand. Job well done. Thanks. Sandra Byrd

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440 Corrine August 25, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Mayonnaise jar lids also fit on regular mouth canning jars.

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441 Susan August 28, 2013 at 9:05 am

Have you tried using honey instead of sugar for your vanilla? I know honey can be more acidic. Would it ruin the process? I am hoping to give homemade yogurt a try.

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442 Kristen August 28, 2013 at 9:52 am

I haven’t personally tried honey, but I did a little googling and it looks like other people do this with success.

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443 Bill August 28, 2013 at 10:24 am

FWIW – honey has antiseptic qualities so if you want honey in your yogurt, add it to the bowl when you eat it. Also, honey should never be fed to infants – slight chance of botulism which adults tolerate in small amounts but can kill infants.

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444 Sue September 2, 2013 at 9:54 am

Hi!
I just wanted to comment about how awesome your recipe is! I can’t believe I can make yogurt – it’s soooo exciting!

Thank you so much for taking the time for sharing. Please know that your efforts have been very appreciated by no only me, but my family and my friends! :)

Sue

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445 Bill September 7, 2013 at 4:04 am

Chobani has a recall out so you may want to be careful before using it as a culture, at least for now.

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446 Mina ~ @Brazen Broads September 23, 2013 at 12:45 pm

I just tried your recipe yesterday…Yummy and easy!! I’m not a big yogurt fan as sometimes it seems to tart, or even too sweet. This was perfect. Everyone loved it, the hubby, 3 teens and myself.
Next time I’ll definitely use whole milk. I used 2% and halved the recipe this first time and think it could be a tad thicker, and we want more. I went with your recipe mainly for the ease and quickness. I was too anxious to see how it would come out to wait 8-12 hours plus fridge time!
I’ll definitely make this again; probably tomorrow as I don’t see what’s left making it past today. I’m adding a link to your site on our blog and I’m anxious to try some more of your recipes!
Thanks for the recipe!

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447 Kristen September 23, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Oh, that’s awesome to hear. Yay for yogurt!

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448 Shelley Charles September 28, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Good post-thank-you. What about making non-dairy yogurt with soy milk? Can I try using store bought coconut milk yogurt as a starter?

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449 Kristen September 30, 2013 at 6:50 am

You will probably need a different set of instructions for that. I’d google to find other bloggers who have actually made non-dairy yogurt, since I haven’t!

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450 Patrick I'll October 23, 2013 at 12:19 am

First time I made yogurt… very smooth warm as it went into the refer (the extra 8 oz of starter) can’t wait until tomorrow…I noticed you had no lower limit on the temp for the bacteria in the yogurt. I make beer, which is yeast, and temps matter on the lower end depending on which yeast you pitch into the Wort for alcohol conversion. I like this, it was easy and fun and something I’ll be doing again soon as much as I cook with yogurt.

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451 Beverly October 23, 2013 at 7:32 am

Thanks for the great recipe/tutorial! I used a half gallon of milk and a half cup of Stonyfield Organic Plain Greek yogurt that I had opened the day before and it worked great. Instead of the cooler, I heated some water in my 7 qt crock pot then turned it off before putting my jars of milk in. I wrapped the crock in 3 towels. About half way through, I was concerned it might have cooled off too much so I placed a heated rice bag on top. At 3 hours I removed the jars and I had yogurt! They were almost completely firm at that point. They’ve been in the fridge overnight and are now completely firm. Tonight I am going to use some to make frozen yogurt! :D

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452 Kathy December 30, 2013 at 4:25 pm

I would like to try this! Do you think if I use Greek Gods plain Yogurt it would do just the same? Not a fan of Dannon or Yopait.

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453 Kristen December 30, 2013 at 6:36 pm

I’m not sure if you’ll have success with the Greek yogurt…my readers have had mixed results, but you can certainly give it a try.

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454 Amanda January 1, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Thanks so much for this post!!! I just bought a yogurt machine (only because it was on clearance for $10, regularly $40, couldn’t pass that up!). I have been looking for info all over the internet and was about to purchase a starter culture online, but some were quite pricey! So glad you posted how you used store bought regular yogurt to start… I am going to try this before buying cultures online!

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455 Bill January 2, 2014 at 7:03 am

Amanda, when I am not using my bought cultures from http://www.cheesemaking.com/yogurtmakingsupplies.html I use a blend of store-bought yogurts including Chobani, Stoneyfield and the store brand unflavored (or vanilla if you cannot get an unflavored retail yogurt). I put the 3 yogurts in a blender and blend for a couple of seconds and then pour it into several jars to use as I need it.

I can highly recommend the Y4 and Y5 from the link above… sometimes you can get them on sale. I stock up and toss them in a freezer bag into my freezer…. will keep for years that way. Good luck.

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456 Tammy January 4, 2014 at 3:46 pm

First, Happy New Year Kristen!!

Rats to my first failed yogurt attempt! I have made yogurt following your recipe a couple times before and it turned out just fine. The batch I made today, however, is as liquid as it was when I poured it into the jars. Not sure what went wrong but my guess is that it was either the starter or perhaps it was still a bit too warm when I added the starter. I was watching the temp quite closely though so I’m leaning toward it being the starter itself.

Oh well. Here’s hoping my next batch will turn out.

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457 Patrick January 5, 2014 at 9:18 am

Weighing in here, and having made beer for many years, I have found a few things about the process of converting the milk to yogurt. Once I started making yogurt, some of my friends who have made it in the past gave me some valuable advice. The temperature is important in as much above 120 and you’ll kill off most of the activity. I have had the temp go as low as 90 and the little buggers appear to be quite happy making yogurt. The amount of time in the “set” is between 3.5 and 4 hours. But the one thing I have found is the amount of “starter ” is critical. In this instance more is not better. Somewhere between 5-8 ounces and no more, anymore and it seems to stymie the process (this happens when making beer as well) and I wind up with a higher amount of whey (water type liquid) content. Greek yogurt is the same stuff with one more step, draining the whey from the cooled and set product. There are several types of bacteria that will convert milk to yogurt, we have found they all pretty much react the same with only a few minor and very subtle taste differences. It keeps in a refer that gets to 39 degrees for up to 6 weeks sealed (accidentally forgot to rotate a jar into the mix).

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458 Katie Altine January 8, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Question about the homemade yogurt. Can I strain the whey from the yogurt to make greek yogurt or do I need to buy yogurt cultures? My family likes greek yogurt and I was going to try and make yogurt this weekend for the first time and thought if I could make it greek style they might like it even better. Thanks for the recipe. I am new to your site and have really learned a lot.

Thank you, Katie Altine

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459 Kristen January 8, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Yep, that’s exactly how Greek yogurt is made! Just make it as directed, strain it, and you’ll be in business.

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460 Lori Morrill January 20, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Would this recipe work with raw goat milk?

Thank you!

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461 Kristen January 20, 2014 at 6:48 pm

As far as I know, it would. I did a quick google search and it looks like you can use it like you would cow’s milk.

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462 Childcarepro January 22, 2014 at 11:22 am

I make this every Sunday. I use pint jars and fill them 2/3 full so I can easily add granola or fruit when I pack for lunch. I use an organic Greek yogurt for my initial starter. I have found that the more starter used the thicker the yogurt. Every few weeks I start a new batch with new starter otherwise I just keep using my own yogurt as starter. Also I have found that the perfect warm place is inside my over the stove microwave with the stove light on low until set.

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463 Cindy January 23, 2014 at 6:35 pm

I would like to try this and have a question. I really like the flavor of Noosa Honey yogurt. Can I use that as my starter? Also if I wanted a vanilla flavored could I use honey to sweeten it instead of sugar? I have a friend that makes her yogurt using your recipe and loves it. This will be so much cheaper than buying it.

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464 Kristen January 24, 2014 at 5:59 am

I’m not familiar with that yogurt, so I’m not sure if it will work well as a starter. You could always try it and see.

I haven’t personally used honey, but it appears that other people on the internet have done that, so I think it’ll work. Do let us know!

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465 Gaby January 28, 2014 at 10:42 am

I started making yogurt because we often run out before shopping day. We like organic, so it gets expensive. I also like to create less garbage. so According to my numbers, we save about 78 containers a year, and $260.00!
I like to make it in a thermos!

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466 Marianna January 29, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Thank you for this post.
Most other homemade yogurt recipes call for cultures, etc. I love that yours allows you to just use milk and store bought yogurt. So simple.
The first time I made it, it turned out a little runny despite using fresh, full fat, raw milk. My second attempt (last night). I let it sit longer (over 12 hours) and it was the perfect solution for this drafty old house. I love your cooler method, because I don’t have to plan around what is or isn’t going in the oven. My seven year old really enjoyed helping out with this. It was a great learning experience.

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467 Mechef145 January 30, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I tried this recipe with a clay pot that I got from MEC pure clay cookware and the also the yogurt recipe in their website (http://miriamsearthencookware.com/categoryclay-pot-recipeshow-to-make-homemade-yogurt-in-claypots/) it was much easier and the taste was fantastic. The taste was deffinitly  different, i guess because of the lack of metals in my yogurt.

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468 elje February 9, 2014 at 11:46 pm

In India people make yogurt on a daily basis. No complicated jars, sterilization, water bath. Just boil the milk, put it into any steel, ceramic, glass bowl, once lukewarm add the yogurt starter and mix it and close it and keep it in a warm place overnight.
In the USA Bulgarian yogurt is a good starter. The other ones I have tried makes the yogurt sticky/slimy consistancy.
Whole fat and 2% works good.
1% and fat free not recommended.
It lasts very long in the fridge but after 4-5 few days it gets more sour day by day. In India we have recipes that we make with sour yogurt. SO sometimes I intentionally let them sit in the fridge and sour.

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469 Ines Seabra February 11, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Hi, could I do it with greek yogurt?

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470 Kristen February 11, 2014 at 2:04 pm

You can, although my readers have reported mixed results with it, and I haven’t personally tried it. A Greek yogurt starter will not make Greek yogurt, though. You’ll have to drain the whey off to get Greek yogurt.

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471 Tiffany Morris February 13, 2014 at 11:31 pm

I was wondering if you have ever tried the Vanilla Almond Coconut milk that is unsweetened and only 30 calories for the homemade yogurt. If so, do I do it the same way or something different. I would like to give this a try so any information would be appreciated.

Thank you,

Tiffany

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472 Kristen February 14, 2014 at 7:13 am

I’m so sorry, but I can’t be any help! I’ve never tried making yogurt with coconut milk, since none of us here are sensitive to dairy. Maybe do some googling to find the answer?

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473 Farideh February 15, 2014 at 8:28 pm

I am going to make it easy for all of you :
1. Heat up the milk to the boiling point on the stove or microwave in a ceramic cooking pot ( or some other pots which is thick and keep the heat for longer time ).
2. Put aside the pot enough time , for milk to cool down ( you should be able to keep your , clean , finger in the milk for 10 seconds or more . in other words the milk should be warm NOT hot at all .
3. for a gallon of milk add 4 or 5 FULL table spoon of plain yogurt and mix.
4. put the lid on the pot and cover the pot with a blanket or couple of towels ( trying to keep it warm for a few hours for yeasts of yogurt to do their job). at this stage keep the pot still and do not move it for few hours ( all night).
5 . Take the pot and keep it in refrigerator for weeks and enjoy your yogurt.

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474 Alica February 24, 2014 at 8:51 am

Wow…this looks way easier than I ever imagined! I’m going to try it…maybe even today! We have our own milk, and I’ve been looking for healthy ideas. Our kids love smoothies, so what better way to give them some fresh ingredients.

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475 Jan Futyma February 27, 2014 at 8:50 pm

I am so thrilled to get these instructions for making Yogurt in qt. jars. I can’t wait to try this. Definitely going out tomorrow to get a new thermometer. My husband and I are always looking for ways to be frugal, and are not afraid to give things a try. Thank you so much!

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476 Claudi March 2, 2014 at 5:11 pm

It Worked!!! Great website. Thank you for all the information. I haven’t made yogurt since the 70′s. I loved it. Even my husband got into it. He eats 2 qts a week. He was surprised how mild it is. I let it stay in the oven (preheated to 275 and turned off when I put the yogurt in, with light on) for 3 hours. I think I will let it stay in for 4 hours next time because I like a little sour taste to it. I don’t have a cooler, but I will get one for next time. Would be great to have an alternate method. Years ago I put the yogurt into a gallon thermos bottle, put it in a box, and stuffed newspapers around it. Then put the box in a draft free place overnight. Came out rather thin, and very tart, but I loved it anyway. This is better.

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477 Melissa March 23, 2014 at 10:04 pm

I make mine near the same way but once I stir in the starter I place the stainless steel or heavy stockpot on a small heating pad that I have, leave it four about 12-24 hours than refrigerate. works very well.

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478 Evelyn March 30, 2014 at 6:11 pm

I have been culturing my yogurt in a lunch cooler, heated with a large rice bag (this is just a cotton bag which is stuffed with rice* and heated in the microwave – the same kind that you would take to bed to warm your feet or put on a sore muscle or use to soothe an ear ache). I warm the milk, add the culture, seal it in the jar and put it into the cooler with the very warm rice bag wrapped around it. I fill any vacant area inside the cooler with kitchen towels for added insulation, close the cooler and walk away for half a day or over night. Works like a charm and is easier for me than filling the cooler with water and monitoring the temp.
* my rice bag is about 8″ x 10″ with 2 cups of rice in it, sewn shut and heated about 3 minutes in the microwave. If you have no sewing skills take a large, clean, heavy sock, put in the rice and tie shut with a string – same thing.

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479 Janet April 4, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Brilliant! This works so much better than the little stinking yogurt cup maker I had from the 90′s .. I am giving it away to save space and time. Your way is so easy and it turns out thicker too. Also, my son is lactose intolerant and can’t eat real butter so I have to turn the cream into yogurt than chill it ant make butter. your method will help so much when I make butter for him next time. toodles, Janet p.s the left over liquid from the butter can be used in cooking or drinking. win win

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480 Kristen April 5, 2014 at 7:43 am

Yes! The little maker from my childhood made such a small amount and it was super sour.

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481 kari April 14, 2014 at 11:35 am

I just made this over the weekend and it turned out great! For the started I couldn’t find a small cup of plain yogurt so I bought Greek plain yogurt. I didn’t realize however that one of the small containers that I bought of the Greek wasn’t enough so I added some vanilla whole milk yogurt from a large container (that was already opened) that I had on hand. So using an already opened container of yogurt doesn’t seem to effect the end product. I also used lids and bands and three of my jars actually sealed themselves after I put them in the refrigerator. I really like this recipe as it makes eating organic cheaper. Thanks

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482 Kent April 28, 2014 at 1:15 pm

I’ve been making my own yogurt for about six months and have never had any that is as thick as you show. Mine is like thickened milk. It still tastes like yogurt and I either mix it with cereal or drink it. What do you suggest for thickening my yogurt.

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483 Kristen April 28, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Hmm…are you maybe using skim or 1% milk? That can make yogurt really runny.

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484 Kent April 28, 2014 at 2:18 pm

No, I usually use 2% or whole milk.

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485 Marianna April 29, 2014 at 9:00 am

Are you using ultra pasturized milk or organic milk (which is usually ultra pasturized unless you are getting it locally)? The higher heat of ultra pasturized sometime affects the proteins in the milk making it difficult to achieve coagulation consistent with thicker yogurt.

Also, we live in a draft old house and I have to let it sit longer and by a heat vent so the water in the cooler does not cool too fast. I think Frugal Girl lives somewhere warm.

I’ve heard some people strain some of the whey out, so that it is thicker like Greek yogurt. (I make ricotta and this is how I get the whey out.) You could do this by doubling up some cheese cloth and lining a strainer with it. Rubber band it to prevent the cheese cloth from falling and making a mess. You put your strainer over a non- reactive pot. Put your yogurt over the cheese cloth. Whey will drop out. You can set it in the fridge while it drips. The longer you strain it, the thicker it will get. Leave it too long and you’ll end up with something more like cheese. I’ve never done this to yogurt, but when I strain ricotta I do it for about 3+ hours. I would think yogurt would be less.

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486 Kent April 29, 2014 at 9:21 am

I use plain old grocery store milk. It doesn’t seem to matter if I heat the milk or not, it still doesn’t get very thick. Keeping it warm isn’t a problem since I use a yogurt maker. I typically use part of a previous batch as the starter or I’ll use Fage from the grocery. I’ve also tried specific yogurt starter but there doesn’t seem to be any advantage, besides, it costs more than using yogurt.

Like I said, it still tastes like yogurt and I’m getting the benefits. I just wondered if there was a trick to getting it thicker.

487 Kent May 7, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Just a quick update. I tried a different commercial yogurt, Chobani, for my starter and my yogurt is much thicker but with a lot more whey separated out. When I use Fage for my starter there isn’t nearly as much whey, if any.

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488 Bill May 8, 2014 at 6:41 am

I have tried using multiple cultures like Fage, Chobani and store brand with good success. Just keep the extra in the fridge for the next batches.

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489 Rick Rogoski April 28, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Have you tried using a “greek” culture or one that claims as many as five different cultures?

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490 Kristen April 29, 2014 at 5:26 am

Greek yogurt isn’t made with special cultures, but is rather made by straining regular yogurt so that they whey drains out. So, using a Greek starter won’t make your yogurt Greek. You’ve got to do that after you make your yogurt.

Yoplait or Dannon work great for me!

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491 Marianna April 29, 2014 at 9:33 am

Is there some way for you to let it incubate longer in your yogurt maker? I am only saying this because the first time I made it, my yogurt was really runny. I have since experimented and now let it sit for around 12 hours..

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492 Kent May 1, 2014 at 12:35 pm

I typically start it in the evening and let it go all night, usually eight to 12 hours.

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493 Pat S. May 14, 2014 at 6:49 pm

I just came across your blog last night, looking for a recipe to make my own yogurt. I’ve been wanting to try this for awhile, knew it would be less expensive than buying, but never figured out how much less! I do have a question – when you boil the jars in an inch of water, are you just setting them in the water? So there’s no water in the jars, they’re just steaming? And then do you take the jars out of the pot (you say you use the pot you boiled the jars in to put in the cold water) and set them upside down to keep them sterile? (All right, that’s 2 questions!) Thanks so much!

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494 Kristen May 15, 2014 at 6:45 am

Yep, it’s just steaming the jars. Honestly, though, I have skipped the step for the last few years and my yogurt has been just fine (the jars do go through the dishwasher, though.)

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495 Linda Haddix May 14, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Thanks for sharing! This is truly the easiest way to make yogurt. Have you made fruit yogurt, say blueberry? I’d like to know how to do that too??

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496 Kristen May 15, 2014 at 6:45 am

We just stir in jam to the yogurt when we dish it up. I’ve not had great success adding fruit to the yogurt before incubation.

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497 Leslie Shelton June 2, 2014 at 11:41 am

Hi Kristen. I sure hope you are still taking questions! I made my first batch of yogurt using whole milk from a local dairy that is not homogenized. I also used a plain yogurt starter from the same dairy that had pure ingredients, and honestly, it was a bit runny. I added some sugar and vanilla as suggested in your recipe. It tastes really good, but is not as thick as your picture shows. Now, this doesn’t bother me so much, because my brand of choice has always been Stoneyfield Organic, and it was always less thick than other non-organic, not pure brands. However, if I could get it a bit thicker, I would be happy. I am confident in how I monitored temps along the way. Looking online, I’m seeing suggested incubation periods at 8-12 hours, compared to your 3 hours, but doesn’t a longer incubation only result in a more sour flavor, and not a thicker yogurt? I incubated for 4 hours. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

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498 Kristen June 2, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Yeah, from what I understand, longer incubation just means that your yogurt will be more sour.

My suggestion would be to maybe try another batch using Dannon or Yoplait as a starter. It’s such a small amount, the less-pure ingredients shouldn’t bother you a lot, and perhaps the cultures in those yogurts will work a bit better.

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499 elje June 2, 2014 at 1:47 pm

No doubt longer incubation makes the yogurt sour but the term “longer” depends upon lot of external and internal factors, external- the temp around and the weather for sure, internal- the type of yogurt starter, the milk and its temp. I make the yogurt the natural way meaning no canning supplies or temp regulator. I have lived in 3 different apartments over the last 12 years and in each one the time and method came out to be different to get the same consistency and taste in yogurt. I everytime I moved to a new one it took time with trial and error because the previous method did not work so well. so “longer” is very varient. and everytime it goes beyond the thick and correct point it definitely becomes sour.
the dannon and yoplait always gave me a sticky yogurt which only becomes more and more sticky as you use it. White mountain bulgarian yogurt has never disappointed me.

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500 Leslie June 10, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Happy to report that a couple more days in the fridge, the yogurt thickened up more. I’ve made a second batch, using my first as a starter, and it turned out beautifully. Thanks, Kristen! I’m in. Never going back!

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501 Kristen June 11, 2014 at 8:15 am

Yay! SO glad to hear it.

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502 Mary June 14, 2014 at 11:41 am

Hi Kristen! I tried making this tonight and I didn’t use a food thermometer when I heated my milk since I haven”t bought one. I made it a point not to bring my milk to a boil, though. Will my yogurt come out the same as yours? :S

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503 Kristen June 14, 2014 at 3:22 pm

I think it should be fine! The main thing that you want to do is cool it down sufficiently before you add the starter. If it’s too hot, you’ll kill the cultures.

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504 Mary June 16, 2014 at 12:30 pm

It was a success! I even used the first batch as the starter for the second batch! :)

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505 Kristen June 16, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Yay! Always so glad to hear of yogurt success stories.

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506 Julie June 17, 2014 at 8:10 am

Kristen,
Can I use plain Greek yogurt as a starter?

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507 Kristen June 17, 2014 at 8:36 am

I hear mixed things from people about that. Some had had success and others haven’t. I’ve always used regular yogurt.

Just to be clear, Greek yogurt starter will not make Greek yogurt. To make Greek yogurt, you have to strain regular yogurt.

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508 Kent June 17, 2014 at 10:00 am

I noticed the last time I bought yogurt to use as a starter that ALL of the commercial brands have “Greek” on the label. It’s a marketing thing.

I’ve had the best results from Dannon Oikos plain yogurt. Fage is also good but results in a thinner homemade yogurt than the Dannon.

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509 Dana July 4, 2014 at 8:32 am

I used whole milk and my yogurt still came out very thin. Any thought suggestions. I followed the directions exactly. Verified that my starter had active cultures. It tastes like yogurt, its just thin. :(

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510 Kristen July 4, 2014 at 10:48 am

Gosh, I’m so sorry to hear that! Are you positive your thermometer is properly calibrated? What brand of starter did you use?

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511 Dana July 4, 2014 at 11:55 am

Yes I have a very good thermometer. I used Fage greek yogurt. Like I said, it tastes great… but its like soup.

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512 Kristen July 4, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Maybe try using regular yogurt, not Greek yogurt, if you try this again. I’ve heard mixed reviews about Greek yogurt as a starter. It’s got a bunch of whey drained out, and I imagine that some of the cultures disappear with the whey.

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513 Againstthegrain August 6, 2014 at 9:52 pm

I get great, very thick yogurt results using a fresh container of Fage strained yogurt (whole milk or 2%) as my culture starter added to scalded at 180┬░F then cooled to 110-115┬░F Trader Joe’s organic pasteurized whole milk. I’d say this combination gives me the thickest yogurt I’ve ever been able to make (without straining). I incubate at least 6-88 hours, but usually longer, like 10 or so. I thought the thickness might be because the Fage yogurt has an additional culture strain that most other yogurts don’t seem to include.

With the same Fage yogurt as starter, but a different milk source (such as fresh raw milk that is only gently warmed to 110┬░F), the resulting yogurt is quite creamy but not thick (the raw milk has a higher milkfat % than standardized whole milk, and the raw milk’s natural cultures compete with the yogurt cultures – plus the enzymes and milk proteins haven’t been denatured in raw milk). It’s good for smoothies, though, and the lactase enzyme that lactose-intolerant people lack hasn’t been destroyed so it might be more tolerable for the lactose-intolerant than pasteurized milk that lacks lactase.

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514 Againstthegrain July 23, 2014 at 2:41 pm

I’m a homemade yogurt enthusiast, too. I’ve been making plain whole milk yogurt on and off for many years, using essentially the same technique you use. However, the “off” periods were usually because of my annoyance with the milk scalding step (I do think scalded milk yields the best thick yogurt results). Invariably, I’d become impatient or get distracted while the milk was heating. I’d stop stirring and leave the stove, the milk would overheat, and I’d have a thick, sticky mess to clean off the bottom of my pan, and sometimes even on the stove if the milk boiled over. Even when everything went smoothly with the milk scalding, it seemed like there was a lot of prep & clean-up.

But for the past 7 months I’ve been making yogurt regularly, like clockwork, because my new Instant Pot DUO electric pressure multi cooker has a yogurt program that not only incubates the yogurt after the culture is added, but it also streamlines the initial step – it scalds the milk and can sanitize the canning jar storage containers, too. I no longer have to stand at the stove and stir the milk while it heats. I just set the Instant Pot and come back when the timer beep goes off.

I often make the yogurt directly in the wide mouth half pint canning jars instead of one large quantity – the small jar sanitizing and scalding can be completed in one step with just 1 min of pressure-steam program, plus a few min for the pressure to naturally release and the milk to cool enough for the culture to be added. Laura Pazzaglia of Hip Pressure Cooking blog has posted a great yogurt video on her blog and YouTube using the Instant Pot yogurt program.

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515 Bill July 24, 2014 at 7:17 am

Here is a shortcut I take that has always worked. Once you get the milk to scalding temperatures, carefully pour it into the containers you will be usine and it will sterilize them. Then pour the milk back into the container for culturing, bring the temperature down and add the culture – I use a mix of several retail yogurts which I blend (use a blender), add part to the culture container and save the rest for the next batch. Works every time!

When I make yogurt, I make a gallon at a time and use quart jars as containers – really works well. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to make much yogurt because of health issues in the family – nothing to do with the yogurt, of course.

Try it, it works!

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516 Kent July 25, 2014 at 12:02 pm

The instructions for my yogurt maker say that scalding isn’t necessary if you’re using pasteurized milk. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Doesn’t seem to make any difference. You can heat the milk in the microwave, also.

As far as sterilizing goes I just run the jars and lids through the dishwasher.

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517 Againstthegrain July 25, 2014 at 3:53 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scalded_milk

Scalding “fresh” milk isn’t strictly necessary, but it does make better (thicker) and more consistent yogurt because scalding reaches a higher temperature, around 180┬░F and for longer than flash-pasteurization does (typically 161┬░F in the for a few seconds, at least in the US).

That’s because the higher temperature reached during a gentle scalding unfolds the protein strands. Also regular pasteurization doesn’t actually sterilize milk – there are viable bacteria & yeast present even in a new container of milk that will compete with the yogurt bacteria, though obviously an older milk container that has become a little warm or has been open for a few days will be even more compromised than a just purchased, always very cold, freshly opened container.

Because I always found the scalding process to be a pain, I’ve tried making yogurt skipping the scalding step many times, but I don’t think the resulting yogurt is nearly as good or consistent, unless one doesn’t mind runny and variable yogurt.

Our family also drinks truly fresh milk, that is raw milk, which is legal for retail sale in California. I’ve made lots of raw milk yogurt, only gently heating the milk to 110┬░F, but it always makes a runny yogurt. The raw milk still has viable enzymes and it’s own lactobacillus culture’s which is great, but they inhibit the yogurt culture. Raw milk yogurt is great as a beverage or in smoothies, but I prefer thicker yogurt from scalded milk for eating from a dish.

Since trying the scalding step in the electric Instant Pot DUO pressure cooker and finding it to be a quicker, much easier step without any of the annoyances of stove-top scalding in a pot with a whisk, I never skip the scalding step anymore, and my homemade whole milk yogurt is thicker than ever. Being able to steam-sanitize the jars and scald the milk in one quick step in individual serving size wide mouth half pint canning jars is an additional convenience, as the family members help themselves to more yogurt in the smaller jars vs serving out of a quart jar.

Laura Pazzaglia of Hip Pressure Cooking blog (the maker of a yogurt instructional video for Instant Pot) reports that she see better results when she steam sterilizes the Instant Pot liner pot first, right before she adds the milk to scald it, especially if she has hand washed the liner pot instead of using it straight from the automatic dishwasher. Bacteria and years competition in one’s containers shouldn’t be underestimated – it might not be pathogenic or enough to prevent yogurt coagulation, but it still can be a factor in yogurt quality and texture characteristics.

Ultra-pasteurized and UHT milk, on the other hand, has been heated to extremely high temperatures to allow an unnaturally long shelf life (while sealed), and it doesn’t culture well at all. The proteins strands in highly processed cooked milk products become very damaged and fully denatured during the ultra-pasteurization process, which alters the taste, consistency, and the yogurt culture’s ability to properly coagulate the milk proteins. UP and UHT milk is nasty stuff, IMO, and I won’t buy it for any purpose.

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518 Susan July 29, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Have you ever tried making yogurt with something like Activa? I am having a
lactose problem and wondered if this would help. I process my yogurt in yogurt maker for 16 – 18 hrs. I was told this amt of time would reduce the lactose problem. Doesn’t work for me. Any suggestions?

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519 Bill August 6, 2014 at 10:15 am

Making yogurt with Activia(TM) is a challenge. What I do is include in with one or more others like Chobani and Siggis. I usually dump several different brands in my blender, give it a whirl and the use part for the batch I am making and save the rest in the fridge for future batches. Works for me.

Another thing you might try is to use leftovers from the first batch of Activia for the next batch. Sometimes that second batch, for some reason, firms up better than the first one. Just a thought.

Good luck.

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520 Mylene August 4, 2014 at 10:39 am

I love this recipe! I’ve looked fro years for this and I finally got it!
I made my first 2 jars of yogurt and they came up very well and delicious.

Thank you very much for sharing!

Mylene

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521 Rick August 6, 2014 at 12:43 pm

This comment is for Susan with a lactose problem
Try using goats milk to make your yogurt. Also, goats milk is more heat tolerant than cows milk and can be used to make sour cream and cream cheese. If you are interested I will give the recipe.

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522 AA August 20, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Thank you for this recipe. I have been looking for an easy way to make my toddler healthier yogurt, she loves gogurts, which gets expensive. She is also lactose intolerant so I made mine with lactaid. While not as thick as yours, it is still extremely creamy! My husband likes it too so I am glad to make it again.

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523 EPB September 7, 2014 at 9:54 am

In my experience, you don’t have to be religious about temperatures. I heat my milk to 170-180ish and cool it to *150* before adding the yogurt-with-live-cultures-starter. This saves some time since I don’t have to wait as long for it to cool and it has resulted in great yogurt. But after reading your recipe I will experiment with letting it cool to an even lower temp to see if the consistency is different. After all, it’s all an experiment that ends in something tasty!

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524 Leonora September 22, 2014 at 8:56 pm

I just tried the crockpot yogurt method that seems to be the latest craze. I’m left with a half gallon of tangy milk. Can I try again with the same milk-perhaps using the thermos method I see here (next time I’ll definitely make a quart or pint at a time!) , or should I just freeze it for baking and use the rest in overnight oats?

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525 Kristen September 23, 2014 at 7:22 am

Trying again will probably give you a disgusting mixture of separated curds and whey (ask me how I know!!! Ha.). So I would use it for smoothies and such and try again with new milk.

I’ve never tried the crockpot method, but the method I use here works really well for me.

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526 PF September 23, 2014 at 10:01 am

Help!! I’ve been following your directions for awhile now, and loving the results … my head was in the clouds today, and I dumped in the starter while the milk was hot, which I know will kill the starter. Can I cool it, then add more starter?? Thanks for your help!

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527 Kristen September 23, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Yeah, I’d probably give that a try!

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528 Laura D. September 24, 2014 at 6:02 pm

After years of following your blog, I finally decided to go for it and make our own yogurt. My daughter just turned 1 and I want her to have yogurt for the probiotics, but all yogurt in the store except the plain ones (which she doesn’t like) had so much sugar!! I made the vanilla version with very little sugar and we all love it! So glad to know that we have a great option for yogurt. Thank you!!

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