Saturday, 2 July 2011

Homemade Yogurt The Easy Way

Homemade yogurt is MUCH cheaper and far healthier than most store-bought yogurts which usually have artificial sweeteners and thickeners in them (and VERY little real fruit).  Here in Alberta, we pay approximately $6.00 for a 650g tub of decent organic yogurt.  Gulp.  Not so good for the budget as our 2 youngest kids can eat an entire tub of that yogurt for a snack or with breakfast!  Yogurt is excellent with granola and fresh fruit for a filling, delicious, healthy breakfast or snack.  We eat a lot of it!

Here's a far healthier (and cost efficient) method to make yogurt at home.

Step 1)  Pour 1 gallon of whole milk with some sugar to taste (take note of Step 5 to help determine how much to add) into a clean pot and heat slowly to 180 deg F.  Watch milk and stir frequently so as not to scald.  I like to do this while I am cooking a meal, cleaning the kitchen or wiping out the fridge, so that I am close by and won't forget to stir.  I also like to add about 2 tsp of vanilla to the pot as it makes a nice taste addition to the yogurt.

Step 2)  Remove pot from heat at exactly 180 deg F and let cool to 110 deg F while stirring occasionally.  I had a hard time getting a good picture of the temperature as the hot milk was steaming up the camera lens!

Step 3)  Scoop out approximately 2 cups of the warm milk into a clean measuring cup and stir in correct amount of starter per package instructions.  Whisk gently but thoroughly in measuring cup until completely dissolved and then pour back into pot of warm milk.  Stir to combine well.  *You can also use about 1 cup of leftover yogurt (from a previous batch) as starter, or some good quality probiotic store-bought yogurt.  I had none of either in the house, so I used powdered starter today.

Step 4)  Place in warm spot to culture for a minimum of 4 hours (I use my oven with just the light on - not the heat).  It usually takes about 6 hours for mine to set to the thickness I like.  I've cultured it overnight as well, but it tends to taste a little tart (which means we have to add  more sugar than I'd like) so we stick to approximately 6 hours. Check for doneness by testing thickness and taste.  The longer you leave it, the more tart/tangy (and thick) it will become.  Keep in mind it will set a bit firmer once refrigerated.

Step 5)  Flavour with chopped fruit or homemade jam.  If I am going to flavour with jam, I use less sugar in Step 1 (maybe only 1/4 cup), but if I am going to flavour with fresh fruit, I use more sugar in Step 1 (up to 1 cup depending on tartness of fruit used).  This batch was flavoured with fresh strawberries from the garden and some strawberry jam.

Place into jars or containers to store in fridge.  Will keep several weeks if unopened.  I like to reuse saved yogurt containers because they are easily recognizable as yogurt in the fridge by all family members :)  You can use canning jars or other containers too.

*Note*   Don't use honey to sweeten the entire batch at the time of making yogurt, as the antibacterial qualities of honey alter the set of the yogurt!  You could sweeten with honey at the table, at the time of the individual serving if you like, just not at the time of making the batch.  Repeat!  Do not sweeten with honey at the time of culturing!  Wait to do it at the time of serving to avoid set failure!

Here's a close up picture so that you can see the smooth, creamy texture.  The big lumps are pieces of fresh strawberry, and the pinkish coloring is from the jam.  It is so delicious, I wish I could show you in a picture HOW good it is :)

Approximate Cost Breakdown for Budget Geeks :)

$8.00  1 gallon of organic whole milk
$0.50  homemade organic strawberries, organic homemade jam and sugar
$3.00  starter (I usually use some reserved yogurt from a previous batch which is far cheaper)
$0.50  electricity for running the oven light for 6 hours
$12.00 for 4 tubs of the best tasting organic strawberry yogurt you'll ever taste (that I'd have to pay at least $24.00 for in the store)!

Happy yogurt making and let me know how you made out if you try a batch!



  1. You've outdone yourself this time Sherrie....a very informative post too....I also make yoghurt this way at home...but I don't sweeten it in step one...Because it is not sweetened, I use it to replace sour cream as well...adding some lime juice to some yoghurt makes a lovely dressing for chicken or even steak....I also use home made jam to flavour the yoghurt...doing this means you can have much better flavours than any store bought yoghurt too....I have been straining mine through a cloth bag for a short time to thicken it..removing some of the whey....
    Well done for a great blog your blog so much. Keep up the great work.

  2. Great idea about the sour cream, Nellymary! I'll reserve some next time just for that purpose :)