Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Making Yogurt

My mother-in-law (who isn't afraid of trying ANYTHING!) introduced me to yogurt-making. At first I thought, "Why should I make it instead of buy it? What is the benefit?" I quickly found the answer to my own question. . . IT IS WAY CHEAPER! Also, this yogurt tastes considerably better than anything you'd buy at the store, plus, if you're into this kind of thing, it is totally organic and you know exactly what is in your yogurt.

Now, I will never go back to buying yogurt. Carl and I have pretty much perfected this homemade yogurt recipe, and I want to share with you how we do it, and also encourage everyone out there to try it, just once!

I will put this foreword on it. . . just start with making a quart at a time because your first batch will inevitably be a flop. Well, it was for me, anyway. If you learn with just a quart at a time, you won't waste a gallon of milk if it goes wrong.

Carl & Hilary’s Homemade Yogurt

Ingredients (for 1 gallon of yogurt):

1 gallon of milk (I use fat free)

1 cup instant dry milk powder

1 ½ cups sugar or your choice of sweetener

2 Tablespoons vanilla

6-8 oz. plain yogurt or you can use a start (6-8 oz.) from your previous batch (with the sugar and vanilla in it and everything)

*Just a note: If you’re going to add fruit (which I always do), wait until the yogurt is totally finished. You add fruit at the very end.


Large pot

Candy thermometer

Insulated Cooler with towel to drape over the lid

4 quart jars or other glass or plastic containers

Here is our candy thermometer

This is the insulated cooler we use. I thought the Mother's Day flowers in the background would add a nice touch. . . ha!


1. Pour milk into pot and add the powdered milk. Heat the milk on medium or medium high until it reaches 185 degrees F. You have to stir it constantly or it will definitely burn. This is the part that takes the longest and is the most boring. It really can take up to 45 minutes to do this part.

2. Take the pot off the stove and set it into a sink full of cold water if you want. This is the part where you let it cool. It’s a good time to prepare the insulated cooler (#5 below).

3. Add the sugar and vanilla and stir them in until dissolved. Let the sugary milk cool to 115-120 degrees F.

4. Add the yogurt start. If the start is cold, it can bring the temp. down a little, so prepare for a 2-3 degree drop after adding the start. Stir it in so it’s evenly distributed. The yogurt start needs be a little clumpy so it has other bacteria to “breed” with. So, small clumps are good.

5. Prepare the very technologically advanced thermal regulator. . . the insulated cooler! Fill your cooler about half full with water that is between 105-110 degrees F. Don’t worry, it will stay this temperature for a long time in a cooler. No need to keep adding hot water to it throughout the entire culturing process.

6. The mixture in the pot should be right around 115 degrees F when you transfer it into your quart jars. Fill your jars/containers, screw on their lids, and place them in your cooler full of water. The water level should go at least as high as the lids on the jars. I’ve also found it doesn’t matter if your containers are floating.

7. Put the lid on your cooler, put a towel over the top to insulate it a little better, and wait 4-6 hours while the yogurt cultures. The longer you wait, the more of a “bite” your yogurt will have. I personally believe that 5 hours makes the perfect balance between mild and bite. But everyone is different.

8. Refrigerate it after it comes out of the cooler. I add fruit to it 1 jar at a time so my no-preservative fruit doesn’t rot in the other jars before we eat it. You can thaw some frozen berries and add them, put in some canned peaches, you can even try putting pie filling in your yogurt.

Here's what the finished product looks like when you first take it out of the cooler. Then you just stick it in the fridge and eat it when it's chilled.

Here's the finished product with pureed strawberries mixed in. I have to say, this is the BEST flavored yogurt we've ever made. You can tell because it's already half-way eaten!

Anyway, thanks for reading this. Happy yogurt making!

Here is a bonus picture of Jude waiting for the yogurt to culture.


  1. Homemade yogurt is the best, and so easy! go you! My recipe doesn't call for any sugar though, or vanilla - maybe i am missing out.... heehee
    Jude is getting so big! post more pics of him!! luvs

  2. I cheat by using a yoghurt making machine, but yours sounds way better. I am going to do it! plus mine only makes a little at a time, like 7 cups or smthng. So, thanks so much for making this public. And for sharing a bonus pix of jude!

  3. Wow, the recipe I use consists of a draining process through cheesecloth. I might have to try your way instead. Thanks so much for sharing. It's always great to hear about recipes that actually work and taste great.

  4. Can you send me the pdf for this? I think you did it once and I erased it accidentally. I am making this today and excited for the outcome!