Homemade yogurt: simple pleasure

Yogurt.

Thick, creamy yogurt, with enough tang to let you know it’s cultured, but not enough to come off as mouth-puckeringly unpleasant.

Where do you find The Perfect Yogurt?

Right at home. Making homemade yogurt is a lot easier than you might think…

…especially when you have an electric yogurt maker at your disposal.

The instructions that come with an electric yogurt maker will lead you through the yogurt-making process using whole milk, 2%, skim milk, or soy milk. Here’s our favorite way to make a fairly thick nonfat yogurt, which can then be drained to make thick, rich-tasting Greek- style yogurt.

The following instructions will yield 2 quarts of regular yogurt, or about 3 to 4 cups of thick, Greek-style yogurt.

Put 2 quarts of nonfat (skim) milk in a saucepan or stock pot. It’ll bubble up as it heats, so use a big enough pan.

While your yogurt maker may not call for the addition of nonfat dry milk to the basic recipe, we find that it helps thicken the yogurt nicely, giving it body it might otherwise lack. So, stir in 1 cup instant nonfat dry milk, the kind that dissolves easily in liquid.

Don’t use our Baker’s Special Dry Milk here; it’s made for baking, and doesn’t dissolve readily.

Heat the milk over medium heat until it’s about 180°F; it’ll probably be bubbly around the edges.

Remove the pan from the heat. Your goal is to cool the milk to right around 110°F, so get out your instant-read thermometer, or the thermometer that came with the yogurt maker.

To speed the cooling process, place the saucepan into a larger bowl of ice and water. Or into your ice-and-water filled sink. Or pour the milk into a metal bowl, and place in another bowl filled with ice and water.

Stir the milk frequently as it cools. This will happen faster than you might think – about 10 minutes, if you put your pan in ice water.

Once the milk is at the desired temperature, pour some into a small bowl. Stir in 2 packets of starter.

Or stir in 3 tablespoons of plain yogurt containing active cultures – or however much your yogurt maker suggests.

An organic yogurt, like Stonyfield, is a great choice. Read the side of the container to make sure it lists cultures: S. thermophilus, L. bulgaricus, or the like.

Pour the starter and milk back into the pan, mix thoroughly…

…then pour the mixture from the large pan into the yogurt maker’s removable plastic inner container.

It may be VERY full. Best to do this right on the counter where the yogurt will incubate.

Snap on the smaller inner lid, and place the plastic container of milk into the outer container. Cover with the larger, outer lid (not shown).

Plug in the yogurt maker. The red light at the base will turn on; this tells you it’s working.

Let the yogurt “work” for 8 hours; the longer it works, the thicker it’ll be.

A cautionary note: make sure the yogurt maker is set in a quiet spot, away from the general hubbub of your kitchen. In order for the yogurt to thicken properly, it should remain absolutely still as it incubates.

Unplug the yogurt maker. Take the outside lid off, and carefully remove the inner lid to reveal thickened yogurt, with perhaps a thin layer of foam on top.

Place the container of yogurt in the refrigerator overnight, to cool and thicken some more.

Next day, your yogurt is ready to enjoy; stir to smooth it out, if desired.

Notice it’s thick enough to stand up a spoon. Whoever said homemade yogurt has to be thin and watery?

For thicker yogurt, drain the yogurt in the draining bag included with the yogurt maker, following the instruction book. If you’ve lost your draining bag, cheesecloth works just fine.

After about 8 hours, you should have thickened yogurt. After 12 to 16 hours, the yogurt will be thicker still: Greek-style.

Or, to avoid the dripping and perhaps precarious positioning of a wet bag of yogurt in your crowded fridge, drain the yogurt in a Wave yogurt strainer.

See the “wave” inside? The design exposes more of the yogurt to the strainer, yielding thicker yogurt more quickly.

Put a quart of yogurt in the Wave; it’ll just fit. You won’t be able to add the lid for about 30 minutes or so; that’s OK.

Snap on the lid, set the Wave in the refrigerator, and let the yogurt drain until it’s as thick as you like.

Here it is after 4 hours…

…and here it is the next day.

The result: 2 cups of whey; a scant 2 cups Greek-style yogurt. Many bakers like using whey in their bread-baking; it’s full of protein, and the yeast seems to like its mild acidity.

Remember, this is only half the yogurt you made; drain the remainder, if you like. Your eventual yield, from 2 quarts of prepared yogurt, is 3 to 4 cups of rich-tasting, Greek-style yogurt – thick as sour cream, and just as tasty!

So, now that you’ve made your own tasty homemade yogurt – what next?

Well, how about tzatziki, a refreshing yogurt/cucumber salad (or topping, or dip)?

Or frozen vanilla yogurt?

Or what about a simple breakfast parfait of yogurt and homemade granola

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. nlshugars

    I just bought the 2 quart yogurt maker in my last order and am a huge fan! What great stuff and even better that you know exactly what ingredients are in your yogurt. Any suggestions on flavoring the yougurt for regular eating?
    I like to add about 2 teaspoons of vanilla and 1/4 cup sugar to my big batch. Then, I stir in dried fruits, fresh fruits, the occasional tablespoon of nuts and little mini chocolate chips for dessert yogurt. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
    1. yogilass

      Where do you find a crock pot that maintains a 110 degree temperature?
      I wanted to use one for yogurt making, but the temperature readings given online
      for the Low, medium and high settings are all too high for the incubation.
      Please let us know which brand yours is, model, and what
      your incubating temperature is that is working!

      Incidentally, I got a second hand Yogourmet machine that works great. I put all
      sizes of glass jars in it, from large to small, then fill the water area with warm water–let
      it incubate all night.

    2. The Baker's Hotline

      That’s great to hear you found a yogurt maker to use and we actually do use a yogurt machine as well to insulate the temperature at 110 degrees. We use the EuroCuisine Yogurt Maker, MODEL YM260 which is actually on our website (http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/large-electric-yogurt-maker). One of our other bakers also uses a bread proofing box to incubate a crock at the proper temperature as an alternative method. Happy Yogurt Making! Jocelyn@KAF

    3. susan

      I use a crockpot also. It takes some experimenting but most crockpots with a low setting will work. The lid just needs to be offset with either a pair of wooden spoons or a pair of chopsticks. Spoons or chopsticks rest on the. Pot and lid rests on the spoons. Easy way to find out is to fill the pot half with water, place the spoons on the pot, and the lid on the spoons. Turn on to low and check the temp several hours later. It works like a charm. Change to chopsticks if the temp is too cold. BTW, a folded clean towel in the fridge makes a good resting spot for the crock when the incubation is over.

    4. susan carney

      I’ve been making yogurt in the crockpot for years. A gallon of milk takes about 2.5 hours to come to the boil when turned to ‘high.’ Then turn off and cool down to 115 degrees (about 2-3 hours) Next I add about a scant cup of yogurt, whisk it well, then move whole crockpot to a quiet corner, wrapped snugly in a thick towel to ferment undisturbed for 8-12 hours. For draining, I pour it into a nut bag which sits in a mesh strainer inside a large bowl. 4 -5 hours in the frig to drain the whey, and it’s divine Greek-style, VERY thick creamy smooth yogurt. I make a batch every week. It’s so forgiving because the different steps give you long periods of time to do other things. I use 2% milk and save out about a cup for starting the next batch. I flavor with fruit. Everyone who tastes it is now doing it themselves.

    5. The Baker's Hotline

      Susan, thank you for sharing your crock pot yogurt-making techniques with us! Barb@KAF

  2. milkwithknives

    Oh, wow, this looks great! I knew about the other yogurt machine, but never considered it because I didn’t want to fiddle with the little jars. But this one looks much more practical, and I can’t believe you actually get two quarts of yogurt from two quarts of milk. That makes the yogurt about 1/4 the cost of buying it at the store, and that’s if yogurt goes on sale. How long does the homemade kind keep? Is it better to use really fresh milk, or could I use half a gallon, then use the other half the following weekend and still get good yogurt? Can you add any kind of flavoring (vanilla, lemon oil, almond extract, etc.) and at what point in the process?

    But most importantly, how much trouble is it REALLY to make yogurt in this thing? I mean, like, how much hands-on time and babysitting and such? I love the idea since my husb goes through two or three quarts of yogurt a week, but I hate to think about buying the machine and then just discovering it’s too big a hassle and we never use it again. Sorry for the dorky interrogation, but I’m really interested in this and would like to know what I’d be getting myself into. Thanks. -Erin
    Hi Erin,
    Great questions, and the exact questions I asked before I got my first machine. First of all, it is a very simple process, and you can have milk in the incubator in about 30-40 minutes, then you don’t have to bother with it again for 6 to 8 hours. Perfect for a Sat. or Sun. project. I don’t use any special milk, just what I buy at the grocery store, usually 2%, but sometimes I treat us to whole milk and let my 16 year old drink the rest.
    I usually make either plain or vanilla but you can add any kinds of flavoring you want. You can use sweeteners too. I stir these in after the starter is in, so I know it’s getting enough stir time to dissolve everything. I tend to like thicker yogurt then my hubby, so sometimes I do add gelatin to the mix at the same time.
    Probably the hardest part is waiting overnight until it is well chilled before eating it. The rest is sooo easy.
    Hope this helps! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  3. iahawk89

    What am I missing here? What’s the draw to homemade yogurt when you use store-bought stuff to make it? This doesn’t seem more cost effective either. Am I just uninitiated to the splendors of home-made yogurt?
    Hi there,
    Just like homemade breads, homemade yogurt is miles ahead in flavor than store bought, IMHO. For a gallon of milk at Cumberland Farms, we pay about $3.25. That makes two 2 quart batches, so each quart is less than a dollar to make. Cabot Yogurt is running over $3.00 a quart, so for us it makes sense money-wise. Of course, it’s definitely up to each baker to decide if it fits their style, but hope this helps. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  4. jak387

    Would this work with almond milk or coconut milk? I’m flirting with being a vegan…Thank you 🙂
    I know that one of our dairy free bakers, Mary T. has used soy milk, but I don’t honestly know if almond and/or coconut will work.

    Anyone out there have any info? ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  5. "magyar baker"

    Thank you for showing us how to make delicious yogurt, and delicious greek style yogurt at home. This is another great recipe to add to my repertoire for ‘doing it myself’, and one less product I ‘have to buy’ in the grocery store!
    I have a question about the whey that is extracted:
    1/how long can the whey be stored before spoiling?
    2/ In a basic bread recipe, would you add the whey at the beginning with the dry ingredients? or do you mix it with the liquids first then add to dry?
    3/ can you use this whey in sourdough recipes, or bread recipes that use a sponge?
    Thanks again for a great site and your very educational ‘how-to’s.
    Hi there,
    Good questions on the whey. Hotline baker Mary T. had this to say about whey: ” I usually store it not more than a week in the refrigerator, but I have never seen signs of spoilage in that time. I add the whey in place of some of the liquid. I think I haven’t used it successfully in sourdough- seems to be too much acid, but I have used it in other breads probably have done some with a sponge, but can’t remember for sure.” Hope this helps. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  6. foodslut

    My sweetie does as Mary B. does, making her’s in the oven. She sets it at 100 degrees, though, and it, too, is done overnight. In a pinch, when we forget to buy milk, she just uses nothing but reconstituted dry milk powder, and the results are great as well.
    Thanks for sharing! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  7. LeeB

    Thank you for demonstrating these yogurt makers. I’ve been making yogurt for about 12 years but it’s been hit-or-miss as to whether it sets up because I can’t settle on a foolproof incubating method. It might be time to purchase the real deal.
    Here are great recipes for what to do with the leftover whey from making the Greek style yogurt:
    probiotic salsa – http://www.cheeseslave.com/2010/08/08/lacto-fermented-salsa/
    cold brined pickles – http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/08/26/finallycrunchy-pickles-lacto-fermented-and-canned/
    nourishing oatmeal – http://www.nourishingdays.com/2010/04/soaked-oatmeal-porridge/
    Whey is SO healthful! I hope people don’t just throw it out!!
    Thank you so much for sharing these links. I’m sure folks have lots of questions on the way/whey. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  8. mariannewardle

    Why do you pour it from the bowl back to the pan and then directly into the yogurt maker? Seems like you could cut a step there . . .

    I drain my yogurt in a regular strainer lined with coffee filters or paper towels. Works great.

    I pour back into the pan just to make sure it’s thoroughly combined – it’s rather hard to stir in the REALLY full plastic container… And I’ve tried the coffee filter/paper towel thing, but mine always end up breaking and spilling the yogurt into the whey! PJH

    Reply
  9. Mary.B

    Great blog! I make homemade yogurt all the time. I don’t have a yogurt maker; I make it in the evening, then put it in my oven overnight. Leaving the oven light on keeps it at the perfect temp. In the morning I put it in the frig to chill and thicken further – it always comes out perfectly!
    I usually do what you show above – use half to make Greek yogurt, which is perfect for dips and frozen yogurt – and the other half for eating as is. With fruit or granola stirred in, of course! I use the whey for baking, or as a nutritious part of a smoothie.

    Reply

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