Easy Homemade Yogurt on the Stove

The following is a guest post from Katie of Kitchen Stewardship.

I Save $200 a Year Making ONE Item From Scratch

eating yogurt

When I read that Alyssa wanted to include some frugal recipes on Kingdom First Mom this year, I thought, “That’s my niche! I can help.” I mentally flipped through my un-processed foods recipes: homemade tortillas, chicken stock, yogurt. All of them are often seen around the blogosphere, and I hate to be redundant.

This is important though.

  • It’s an incredibly healthy food.
  • It saves a ton of plastic from hitting the landfills and recycling bins.
  • I save at least $200/year on just this one item, plus more when I take a second step.
  • I have the easiest method ever, especially if you hate dishes.

I make homemade yogurt almost once a week, and it takes me about 17 minutes, split up into four parts. I’m willing to teach you my secret method, but only if you promise to get your kids to eat yogurt with as little sugar as possible. ;)

homemade yogurt with frozen fruit

The basic steps of yogurt-making are easier than chocolate chip cookies:

  1. Heat to sterilize the milk. (185 degrees)
  2. Cool milk to proper incubation temperature. (90-120 degrees)
  3. Add starter yogurt.
  4. Incubate at warm temperature 4-24 hours.

Supplies necessary:

  • Glass jars (quart canning jars or empty mayo or spaghetti sauce jars work great)
  • Milk (any, from skim to whole)
  • Candy thermometer, but I can show you how to do it without one too
  • Pot large enough to hold your glass jars
  • 2 Tbs of plain yogurt per quart of milk (Buy the freshest yogurt possible at a store and make sure it has “live and active cultures”. I prefer Dannon. I know it has the three top cultures that I’m looking for to help the gut. The little cups are often on sale for 40-50 cents.)
  • picnic cooler
  • bath/beach towel
  • timer

Prep:

  • Run jars and lids through the dishwasher to sterilize. Allow them to dry very thoroughly, then cap and store them.
  • Get out picnic cooler and clean bath towel.

Method

  1. Put jars in the pot with a sink washcloth underneath.
  2. Pour milk into your jars to about an inch from the top.
  3. Place jars into the pot and fill pot with tap water around the jars.
  4. clip_image002[8]

  5. Cook on high heat until boiling and get the milk to about 185 (you can’t burn it with this method, so if you forget it for a while, it’s OK!). Turn off the heat and put lids on the jars.
  6. Put the pot in the cooler with the towel underneath and the lid on both pot and cooler.
  7. Cool milk. You can do it on the counter, in the garage in winter, or in a sinkful of cold water with ice packs.
  8. IMG_7771

  9. Get milk to about 110 degrees. I know the milk is about ready when I can pick up the jars and hold them without burning my hands.
  10. Stir in ~2 Tbs. plain yogurt for each quart of milk.
  11. Get those lids on again and nestle your jars in the cooler. Keep them wrapped in one half of the towel and take the lid off the pot to let the heat out, then close the lid of the cooler to keep the heat in.
  12. clip_image002[6]

  13. My yogurt jars happily nestled in the cooler, ready to incubate. Before I close the lid, I’ll wrap the towel end from the right around the jars.
  14. Incubate 4-24 hours. Shorter incubation makes sweeter yogurt, longer is more tart. Also lower incubation temperature makes sweeter yogurt and higher makes more tart. I’ve had good success between 4 and 8 hours.
  15. When the time is up, put the jars into the freezer for about an hour. Do not stir first. No room in the freezer? They can go right into the fridge.
  16. That’s it! You have created yogurt!

I know a lot of people make slow cooker yogurt, but I hate dishes so much that washing that big insert just kills me. I’d rather dump the water out of my pot to air dry, put my cooler away and be done.

More Information

Katie blogs at Kitchen Stewardship, where she offers weekly Monday Missions to help you balance stewardship of God’s gifts of health, earth, time and money. Find practical baby steps, healthy recipes, green living ideas and prayerful encouragement. You can also follow Katie on Twitter.

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.

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About Alyssa Francis

A thirty-something wife and mother of four! Two daughters by birth, one son by marriage, and a sweet baby boy born in April of 2009. Oldest sister of four girls raised by a single mom. California native. Grew up in Hawaii. Somehow ended up in North Texas. Once a single mom. Former agnostic. A survivor of abuse and addiction. Forgiven by a great big God. Married to my best friend.

Comments

  1. My son LOVES when I make homemade yogurt. So fun to make together. Great job, Katie!

  2. Love this post, Katie! Very informative… and I definitely need my hand held on this project. I hope to be making my own yogurt soon!
    .-= Amy @ Amy Loves It!´s last blog ..Love is Patient. =-.

  3. Wonderful timing! I have been on a kick to make more food from scratch. My son loves yoghurt, but the full fat kind is SO expensive. This helps greatly. Thanks!

  4. I haven’t ever tried home made yogurt! What a great idea and article. Thanks for sharing with us!

  5. Jenna,
    I’m too cheap to buy an appliance for yogurt! Lots of people use and love their yogurt makers though. If you know what soaking grains is, you definitely should be making yogurt, then hang it up to make yogurt cheese (just like cream cheese, but cheaper and healthier!) and get your whey that way. http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/12/02/what-is-whey-where-can-i-get-it-how-to-make-yogurt-cheese/

    :) Katie
    .-= Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship´s last blog ..Mary and Martha Moment: Time to Prepare for Lent! =-.

  6. Making yogurt is definitely something I want to experiment with and you make it sound so easy! Thanks for posting this!
    .-= Carrie´s last blog ..Homemade Chocolate Play Dough =-.

  7. jenna Food WIth Kid Appeal says:

    hi, saw you on URS. I made paneer for the first time last week and had fun using up all the whey to soak/sprout grains/nuts. If I can do that, I can make yogurt. we eat yogurt for lunch 3x a week, this would help our food budget. my mom had an electric yogurt maker when we were kids. every used one?
    .-= jenna Food WIth Kid Appeal´s last blog .."You Ate What Mom Fixed, Good, Bad, or Ugly" =-.

  8. Thanks for posting this! I have not had much luck with crockpot yogurt for some reason, so I am anxious to try this. I don’t know what my problem is with yogurt, I am a very experienced cook and make most everything from scratch…even taught a cooking class! Geesh, and this is supposed to be super easy…I am determined to conquer yogurt!

  9. I will pass this onto my daughter mylil princess loves to eat yogurt

  10. Thanks for another great way to save!!
    .-= Denise@TogetherWeSave´s last blog ..Free Excedrin =-.

  11. Katie,

    One of your last steps says to put the jars in the freezer for an hour, and then “that’s it.” What is the purpose of putting the jars in the freezer for an hour? Does it stop the incubation process? If I don’t put in the freezer, will incubation continue in the fridge ( and make the yogurt tarter? )
    Thanks so much for your recipe!

  12. I love this tutorial! I’ve made homemade yogurt in the crockpot, but you’re right, mess to clean up. I might try this soon!
    .-= Candi´s last blog ..RECIPE: Homemade Ice Cream (Without the machine!) =-.

  13. Wait, WHAT? You can MAKE your own yogurt??? Wow, I am DEFINITELY trying this!!!! :)

  14. Maura,
    I was keeping it short for Alyssa’s blog, but there are many more details at my yogurt post: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/04/13/monday-mission-homemade-yogurt-the-easy-way/

    The freezer improves the consistency (creamier), and then it goes in the fridge. I had the thickest yogurt ever just this week when it *almost* froze because I left it there a tad long.

    Good luck!
    :) Katie
    .-= Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship´s last blog ..Mary and Martha Moment: Time to Prepare for Lent! =-.

  15. I am totally puzzled. That seems like a lot of work, but I’ll trust you. I guess I’ll have to take it a little at a time and get my supplies. Is there a big difference in taste? My kids would probably love this.
    .-= Petua´s last blog ..Raw carrots =-.

  16. Petua,
    There are many steps, but after the first time or two that you make it, it takes 15 minutes in 3 chunks of 5 minutes at a time. Quicker than making boxed brownie mix, at least almost!

    The taste really is just like whatever plain yogurt you start with, although there are variations in how tart it gets depending on how long you let it culture.

    Check out my original blog about it for more FAQs. :) Katie
    .-= Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship´s last blog ..Recipe Connection: St. Peter’s Spicy Fish =-.

  17. Ah, ok – thanks for the info on the freezer; now it makes more sense to me. :-) I appreciate it! – Maura

  18. Thanks Katie. We also make all of our own yogurt. I usually incubate in the stove with the light on, but it will be easier to use a cooler.

    Our kids like to eat it with just adding fresh fruit.
    .-= Kimberly @ Raising Olives´s last blog ..Changes =-.

  19. I, too, was of the “you can MAKE yogurt?!” group until reading this. Decided to try it as an experiment, and am thrilled that it turned out fairly well (more details on my blog). Now my hubby and I just have to adjust to plain yogurt… could be kinda tough, since we’re used to varieties like Key Lime Pie and Strawberry Cheesecake :) Thanks, Alyssa and Katie, for posting this!

  20. diana henretty says:

    You can find the older Salton, 5 cup yogurt makers at many thrift stores and yard sales, for about $2. They work great.
    I’ve been making yogurt for 20 yrs. now, and found by adding 2 T. honey and 2T. of vanilla, it tastes like store bought.
    Also add a Knox’s gelatin (add water to mix it first). It is very creamy. I worked for Head Start and got strep throat every 6 weeks, but started eating 2 cups of yogurt a day and never get strep now!

  21. Homemade yogurt is fantastic. I used to make it as a kid. Thanks for reminding me and getting me back into the habit. Delicious.
    Wayne Baker´s last blog post ..The Time Is Right For The Kidco BabySteps Electric Food Mill

  22. I did this just yesterday! Except, when I took my jars out of my pot, I checked one and it was creamy on top but still liquid under that. I capped it, put it in the fridge, and haven’t checked it since. So I guess we’ll see what happens, but I was a little annoyed with it. Hopefully it’s okay!

    Oh, and I just left mine in the pot on the stove. With my stove set on “Low” (it’s electric…. [boogie woogie woogie woogie!]) it kept the temp right at 100. No coolers to deal with! Probably not practical for a gas stove, but that worked well for me. :)

  23. Two thumbs up!
    Silly question but I want to know—can you make Greek yogurt and if so is it much different?

  24. @Jess,
    I hope it turned out better than it looked at first! Sometimes HM yogurt is both an art and a science (and a gamble). :) Katie

  25. @Paula,
    I actually made Greek yogurt for my Bible study this morning! Just use a Greek plain yogurt as the starter, same directions. I love Fage 10% myself, but they’re all good. If you want your finished product to be thicker like “real” Greek yogurt, you have to strain off part of the whey. Follow the directions here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/12/02/what-is-whey-where-can-i-get-it-how-to-make-yogurt-cheese/ but just do it for 30-60 minutes. You’ll love it!
    :) Katie

  26. @Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship, Thank you!!! So glad I got a response. I hope to give it a try—never tried to make my own yogurt before.

  27. Katie is there a way to make yogurt with soy milk?

  28. Katie, can you make this with soy milk?

  29. Alyssa Francis says:

    You can make yogurt with milk alternatives with the right starter, yes… but with that said… PLEASE do some research on the dangers of soy. I don’t recommend it at all, especially for children. Coconut or almond milks are much better alternatives. :)

  30. After you have made yogurt, can you use your own yogurt as a starter, or do you need to use a store bought starter? Thanks.

  31. @Whitney,
    As long as you aren’t making raw yogurt, you can use your own yogurt as a starter indefinitely or until it starts to get runny (then you might have weakened it in some way and it’s best to start over with a new cup from the store). Enjoy!
    :) Katie
    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship´s last blog post ..Eat Well, Spend Less: Summer Eating (& Eating, & Eating, & Eating)

  32. Wouldn’t happen to have a Greek yogurt recipe would ya?

  33. @April,
    Greek yogurt is made the same way with one extra step – strain out some of the whey. You can use Fage or whatever as your starter and then follow this method, but for an hour or so instead of 4 hours: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/12/02/what-is-whey-where-can-i-get-it-how-to-make-yogurt-cheese/
    :) Katie
    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship´s last blog post ..Do You Have to Go to Alaska to Find Safe, Healthy Fish? (Maybe)

  34. Taril Wright says:

    You can use any yogurt (as long as it says “live culture”) to start yogurt. The presence of fruit or sugar in the original starter won’t make any difference. Just go for the cheapest small quantity, or what’s on sale.

    I have used powdered milk to make yogurt, with success. My choice when I can’t afford fresh milk is “Milk Man.”

    Best of luck,
    Taril

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