My family can eat a LOT of yogurt. The probiotics in yogurt are great for gut health, but all of the added sugar and fillers in store-bought yogurt is not so good for you. A couple of years ago I started researching how to make homemade yogurt and hopefully avoid the nasty additives and sugar and also save some money. I was pleasantly surprised to find that making yogurt is super easy! There are a number of variations on this recipes that you can find online. I’ve tried a couple of different ways, but this is what I’ve found to be easiest.
1 Gallon of Whole Milk
1/2 Small Container of high quality yogurt (the fewer the ingredients and the more live active cultures the better!)
1. Pour all of your milk into a large pan and scald the milk (heat until the milk is approximately 180 degrees). This will kill any bad bacteria in the yogurt that you don’t want to grow during the fermentation process.
2. Cool the milk to 110 degrees and then pour into a crock. I use a crock from my crock-pot. If you don’t adequately cool the milk you will kill any of the live cultures from your milk and your yogurt won’t turn out! If the milk isn’t kept between 100-110 degrees the cultures will not grow and your yogurt won’t turn out. Moral of the story: temperature is very important!
3. Divide your yogurt in half. You will use half as the starter in your batch of yogurt. I save the other half of the yogurt in a storage container in the refrigerator for later use. You may also save some of your own yogurt as starter for your next batch as well!
4. Place 1/2 of the container of yogurt into a small bowl and add some of the warm milk. Stir to combine and then stir the yogurt/milk mixture into the crock of milk.
5. Set your oven to 110 degrees and put the covered crock in the oven.
6. I usually leave the yogurt in the oven for about 10-14 hours. I believe you can take it out as soon as 6 hours or leave it up to 24 hours. The longer you leave it in, the less milk sugars will be in your yogurt. The long fermentation is great for people who are trying to watch their intake of carbohydrates or those following the GAPS diet!
7. Next, I strain the yogurt, making a thick greek-style yogurt. When you strain the whey off of your yogurt you lose quite a bit of volume, but you also lose a lot of carbohydrates as well. This is a super simple process. Simply line a colander with cheesecloth or coffee filters, dump the yogurt on top, and place the colander over a bowl to catch the whey.
Put some saran wrap over the yogurt and place in the refrigerator for 4 or more hours.
8. Finally, I flavor my yogurt. There is no “right” way to do this. It all depends on what you and your family like. Typically I use different sweeteners like xylitol, stevia, and/or erithyritol in combination with berries or other fruit and sometimes some vanilla extract. You can get creative and do all sorts of things to flavor your yogurt. Whats your favorite way to flavor your homemade yogurt? How do you enjoy using it?