Monday, February 18, 2008

A Little Kitchen Culture (Ahem, Yogurt)


Have you ever made yogurt? We are huge fans here: homemade yogurt is cheaper than store-bought, it’s more versatile than store-bought, and you control the ingredients. And the process is so easy, once you know the secret.


And here’s the secret: the crucial part of yogurt-making is the incubating. After many failed attempts at making yogurt (and after many post-yogurt-oopsie-smoothies), I clued in to this secret and had a successful batch. And we’ve been enjoying it ever since! I’ll give you two methods of incubating, both of which have worked well for us (but the first method is SO SO EASY that if you have a crockpot, try it first).


We like to eat our yogurt with a little bit of preserves stirred in…it tastes like a blended fruit yogurt from the store.

Eating Yogurt


INGREDIENTS (this will make a little over four quarts of yogurt):

1 gallon whole milk (raw or from the store)

¾ c. plain yogurt (we like the whole milk variety…just make sure it says it contains “active, live cultures” for your first batch. After this, you can use your own yogurt to start the next batch!)

1 c. sugar (optional)

tad vanilla (optional)

½ c. powdered milk (optional; this helps make the yogurt creamier)

OR 4 t. gelatin (optional; this will make your yogurt the creamiest)


Sterilize 5 quart jars by running them through the dishwasher or pouring boiling water over them. (You don’t have to use jars…but make sure you sterilize whatever containers you are using.)



  1. Pour the milk into your crockpot (if you have a small crockpot, you will want to halve the recipe). Set the crockpot on “LOW” and leave it for 2-3 hours.

  2. Turn the crockpot “OFF” and let the milk sit in there until it cools to anywhere between 95-110 degrees. It takes about 2 hours.

  3. Put about 1 cup of this cooled milk into a bowl. Add the yogurt to the 1 c. of milk, and whisk well with a wire whisk. Dump this back into the large pot of milk. If you are using sugar, vanilla, powdered milk, and/or gelatin, add those now. Whisk well.

  4. Put the lid back on the crockpot (which is still off), cover it with a bath towel, and leave it for anywhere from 4 hours to overnight. When it is custardy, put the yogurt into the jars and refrigerate. DONE!



  1. If you are using RAW MILK: heat the milk to 180 degrees (this is pasteurizing, and store-bought milk is already pasteurized). Just dump it into a large pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally (unless you like the smell of burned milk in your house) until it reaches 180 degrees when checked with a candy thermometer. Cool the raw milk (you can just remove it from the heat or set it in a sinkful of ice water to cool quickly) to somewhere between 95-110 degrees. Note the time it takes to do this. Next time, you won’t have to baby-sit the milk to see how long it takes to cool.  If you are using STORE-BOUGHT MILK: heat the milk to 110 degrees.    

  2. Turn your oven on to its lowest setting, or "WARM."

  3. Remove about 1 cup of milk. Add the yogurt to the 1 c. of milk, and whisk well with a wire whisk. Dump this back into the large pot of milk. If you are using sugar, vanilla, powdered milk, and/or gelatin, add those now. Whisk well.

  4. Place your jars into a shallow roasting pan and ladle the yogurt mixture into the jars. Tuck a bath towel over and around the jars. Set your jars in the oven, and set your candy thermometer right on the rack.

  5. Turn the oven "OFF." Try to keep the oven at around 100 degrees (if you have moderate weather, you usually won’t have to adjust the oven after you turn it off). If it gets cooler, set it on “WARM” again until it reaches 100. If it gets too warm, open the oven door so it can cool down a little. Leave the yogurt for 4-6 hours. Once it gets custardy, put your jars in the refrigerator. DONE!

1 comment:

  1. I've tried to make yogurt a couple times; but no success yet. I think I could do the crock pot method. It's just so hard to waste an entire gallon of milk.


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