Make Your Own Yogurt, You Yogurt Eater You

20 June 2014

To make or to buy? This debate spans all kinds of industry, but is especially hot when it comes to yogurt. Is it really worth the hassle? Not surprisingly, I think it is. I tend to prefer my food life to be served up with a whole lot of unnecessary fuss in the name of "simplicity" however, and maybe you're like the polar opposite and that's fine. So here are some reasons to make yogurt at home.

- 1 -
It's Cheaper

Homemade yogurt is cheaper. Our homemade yogurt costs about $1.50/quart and our preferred storebought yogurt costs $4.00/quart. That means it's at least twice as expensive to buy it at the store. Your margins might be different, but this is true for us.

Maybe you're a frugalista like me, and you calculate how much you save by doing things yourself and then converting that into an hourly wage. I've been making yogurt for a long time, and it honestly only takes me about five minutes of "active" time. So if I make a half gallon of yogurt that saves me 5$ and it only takes me five extra minutes, it's kind of like earning 60$/hour.

But let's say making yogurt takes a lot more time than that for you, maybe you like to watch the pot boil and the temperature rise and you did nothing but stare at it for that entire half hour. Even in that scenario, I bet you'd still come out above minimum wage.

- 2 -
You Have Control Over the Milk Quality

I'm picky about my milk. I like it local and non-homogenized and grassfed and not ultra-temp pasteurized and preferrably organic but at least hormone/antibiotic free, blah blah blah. Yogurt that truly meets my dairy criteria is very hard to find and VERY expensive. But I can find the milk for $6.00/gal at Whole Foods, and the milk begets the yogurt.

- 3 -
You Have Control Over the Additives

So many yogurts are chock full of not only sugar but thickening agents and all kinds of other things that I'm sure do something, but I'm one of those really annoying types that likes to be able to pronounce everything on my food labels.

Back when Breyer's did that commercial with the kids who were trying to read the ingredient list of various ice cream brands and they could only read the Breyer's label because the ingredients were so basic. I loved that commercial. I was like "Preach it, kindergarteners!"

- 4 -
It isn't hard to do. 

I've never totally botched a batch of yogurt: I've had batches with better or worse consistency, but never a total fail. I'm pretty good at following directions, but I manage to screw up lots of kitchen efforts despite following the directions religiously. So I can say with the authority of the botcher: yogurt isn't hard to make. Making it takes forethought, but once it's part of your routine, it's a breeze.

- 5 -
You Can Find a Method That Works for You

There are lots of ways to make yogurt. You can make it in a Crock Pot. You can make it in your oven. You can make it with a cooler. You can make it in the yogurt maker you scored at Goodwill. Lots of options. See my way at the end of the post. Or Google it and find one that works with your life and your schedule.

- 6 -
You Can Strain it to Make Greek Yogurt

Real Greek yogurt is thicker than regular yogurt because the whey has been strained out. (You can do this by dumping your yogurt into a cheese cloth draped over a strainer and letting the whey drip out for a few hours.)

Just think: someday when you skip your nightly ice cream scoop to indulge in your homemade Greek yogurt sweetened with raw local honey, not only will you get to eat something delicious that you made all by your little self and is pretty good for you on the dessert scale, you'll also get to contemplate how in Rhodes Log estimation you've reached the epitome of coolness.

- 7 -
Our Method

Gather ingredients: Milk and "Starter Yogurt" (Use yogurt from your last batch or if it's storebought, make sure it has "live and active cultures.)
Place jar(s) in stock pot.
Pour milk into jar(s).
Fill stockpot with water.
Boil jars in your pot till milk reaches a temp of 185 degrees-ish. (No thermometer? They're pretty cheap, or you can just heat it till the milk has a skin on top.) I start my batches of yogurt when I know I'm going to be in the kitchen for at least a half hour because that's about how long it takes to heat the milk in the stock pot.
Remove jar from pot to cool.
Check back in a couple hours. When the milk reaches a temperature of 110-120 degrees, gently stir in 1/4 c. yogurt per quart of milk. (No thermometer? Cool it till it's very warm but not so hot that you can't hold the jar comfortably in your hands.)
Put lid on jar and store in warm place (like your oven with the light on) for 8-24 hours.
Once yogurt has set, transfer it to the fridge. Don't stir it and try not to jostle it before it's chilled, that seems to be the key for better texture.

And Voila! Thoughts? Tips? Advice? Beef? I'd love to hear any and all of it. Linking up with Kathryn!


  1. I go through phases where I hate yogurt and phases where I love it. I'm in the latter at the moment, and you've encouraged me to try making my own. It looks great!

  2. I love making my own yogurt for many of the same reasons as you. I struggled for the longest time trying to figure out to make it thicker and finally this time I drained out the whey and voila finally more like the consistency I get at the store. Do you strain your yogurt? Or does it turn out pretty thick right out of the gate?

  3. Thanks! I've always wanted to try this but been intimidated. Somehow, in pictures, it doesn't seem scary at all.

  4. AAAHH! You've convinced me!!! I've been teetering on the edge of trying this but haven't yet. Know what pushed me over? Your method is the first that I've seen that doesn't involve heating the milk in a pot (or crockpot or something) before transferring to a jar. My life is such that I just can't handle another dirty pot right now, but... this method I can do! THANK YOU! The only downside I can see at the moment is that it would be even better to be able to make 2 quarts at a time (due to the number of yogurt eaters in my house), but it doesn't look like there's enough room in that pot for 2 jars at a time.

    1. I know, right? The fact that the big pot can just get turned over in the dish drain sold me on the method too!

      And the picture in the post is misleading because it's actually a half gallon jar. The stock pot will fit 3 quarts and that's usually what I do. I don't use the half gallon jar regularly because it's hard to get scrape out the dregs of the yogurt because of how big the jar is. And in response to your comment below: I'd probably get wide mouth for the reason you mentioned...

    2. Thank you so much the tips! I thought the jar looked big, but I didn't even stop to consider it wasn't a quart. We're lucky to have access to some seriously delicious raw Jersey milk. I'm not sure I can afford to use it all the time for yogurt-making, but I'm hoping to try it at least once! After I try it with something a bit less expensive, of course...

  5. OK, just one question that I'm sure no one but would even think to ask. It looks like your quart jars are the "regular mouth" kind, not the "wide mouth." Is difficult to get all the yogurt out of the jar? If you were me and were all set to head to the store and buy a dozen jars tomorrow, would you get the regular or the wide mouth jars? Or are you just wondering how in the world this makes a difference to me? :-)

  6. I've been wanting to try this and you've convinced me. We're big greek yogurt eaters around here, so I would have to strain. But I'm going to try it.

  7. Making my own yogurt has always seemed so weird! I mean, am I just leaving milk out to sour? What is with the warm and the cool and the complicated! Haha, I have serious issues. But this seems sorta doable even for me. I only feed my kids plain yogurt anyway, and if you think yogurt is expensive in the States...well...I won't even tell you how much I's ridiculous.

  8. I did this yesterday, following your instructions, and it turned out perfect! I only got one bite, my husband immediately scarfed the rest. I'm so excited to do this all the time now. Thank you!

  9. My mom and I were just talking about doing this, so your post will hopefully give me the courage to actually do it! You make it look so easy!

  10. Have you ever done this starting with Fage yogurt, which has a different subset of bacteria, rather than just L. acidophilus? And what do you do with the extra whey? I'd feel bad just tossing it out for some reason.

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