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How can I Make Homemade Yogurt?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2016
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Yogurt making is relatively easy for cooks with a good eye for temperatures and infection control, and the flavor of homemade yogurt can be easily adjusted to meet various tastes. The easiest type of homemade yogurt to create is plain, unflavored yogurt, although flavors can be mixed in after the yogurt is made, or the yogurt can be served with fresh fruit, granola, or other nutritional additions. Homemade yogurt can be made with any type of milk with any fat percentage, although full fat milk will create a more rich, thick final product.

Yogurt has been made for centuries in Turkey and Greece. It is made by mixing Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus with warmed and cooled milk, held at a temperature to promote growth of these organisms, but not harmful bacteria. The mixture is incubated for eight to 12 hours, and the two organisms digest the lactose in the milk, thickening the milk proteins and producing tangy lactic acid as a byproduct. The end result is yogurt, which can be eaten in a myriad of dishes as well as on its own.

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To get started on a batch of homemade yogurt, you will need some equipment. Start by sterilizing containers for the yogurt in a pot of boiling water for ten minutes, leaving the lid on the pot at all times. You will also need a thick bottomed pot to heat the milk in, and an area to incubate the yogurt. If you intend to make homemade yogurt a staple in your household, you may want to consider purchasing a yogurt incubator. Otherwise you can use the oven, a cooler filled with warm water, or your car on a warm day, but be aware that holding the right temperature can be challenging, and will require monitoring. It is also crucial to acquire an accurate thermometer, as you will need to check temperatures frequently.

The first step in making homemade yogurt is warming and sterilizing the milk. Heat milk in a large, thick pot to 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit (82-85 degrees Celsius), stirring frequently to heat it evenly and prevent scalding. Next, allow the milk to cool to 112 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius), and then add a culture. The best culture for homemade yogurt is a batch of plain store bought yogurt, as long as the container says “active cultures” or “live cultures.” Add two tablespoons of yogurt for every quart of milk, stirring the mixture evenly and then pouring it into sterilized containers. Incubate the yogurt containers, holding the temperature between 105-122 degrees Fahrenheit (41-49 degrees Celsius), and do not disturb them. The longer the yogurt incubates, the thicker and tangier it will be.

After approximately eight hours of incubation, the homemade yogurt will be finished, and can be refrigerated for up to two weeks before use. Make sure to set aside a jar to use as a starter for another batch, and use a fresh container of commercial yogurt every five or six batches so that you do not exhaust your culture. If the yogurt smells strange or develops discolorations, discard it. Contaminants can work their way into yogurt even in a very clean kitchen, and it is better to be safe than sorry.

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anon145300
Post 6

all the yogurt makers I've looked at have reviews saying they got too hot, past 120 degrees. i don't want to kill off the great bacteria with too much heat. my dad gave me the idea to get an incubator instead of kitchen appliance. sure enough, the hova bator incubator for eggs has only good reviews, so far as i can see. the feature i like best is that i can set it to the temp i want. supposedly i can set it for as high as 110. how does this idea sound to you? thanks!

anon36769
Post 5

do the containers need to have a lid on during the incubation period? can it be done without one?

anon30314
Post 4

Well, no equipment at all! I warm up the milk in the microwave bringing it to a boil for ~1 min. Then I let it cool till it is warm but does not "bite" anymore (I stick my finger in it). I blend in the starter (some left over from the previous batch, for example) and I put it in a container with a lid in the microwave or the oven. The whole idea is to keep the temperature constant. It is ready in ~4-5 hours.

ktfr4619
Post 3

Whey will keep about 6 months, according to a cookbook I have. Also you can use it to make bread, pickles, and soak beans, in addition to drinking it. It has the same "bugs" that the yogurt does, so use whatever you would of yogurt. It is especially helpful for gastrointestinal troubles.

Now I have a question: my yogurt comes out grainy. Does any one know why this happens or how to make it stop? Do I have to get a new starter? Or could I just put it in the food processor to cream it?

catapult43
Post 2

The inside part of my yogurt maker is made of durable plastic that can be placed in microwave. It takes about 7 to 8 min for 1 qt of milk to get to the proper temperature. But bringing milk to nearly a boil on the stove should not be an issue either.

It is really fun, and easy to make yogurt at home. One can top the yogurt with variety of fruits, or let some of the whey drip out, and you have your own yogurt cheese. Excellent, and low calorie too, especially if non fat milk is used.

jitrbug
Post 1

I have been making my own yogurt for about a year now, but I just started making cheese. I've heard that the whey that is removed from the cheese is very good for you. Does anyone know how much of it you should drink a day for optimum health benefit? My last batch of cheese yielded a little over a quart of whey. Also, how long will it stay "good" in the fridge?

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