My daughter loves yogurt. She asks for it with just about every meal, so if I bought it all the time it would add up fast. I’m thankful that a couple years ago I learned how to make it myself by just using milk and a couple tablespoons of yogurt (with live, active cultures) as a starter.
At my local market, 32 oz. of plain yogurt is $2.99, but I can get a gallon of milk (128 oz.) for $3.29. So, 32 oz. of homemade yogurt using store bought milk costs 82.3 cents. That’s a 72% savings over buying yogurt in the store.
You can find a variety of methods online for making your own yogurt, but my method (that hasn’t failed me yet) involves the following steps:
- Measure your milk by pouring it into the jar you’ll be storing it in, then pour the milk into a double boiler (I use a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water).
- Bring the milk to 180 deg. over a double boiler stirring occassionally.
- Once it’s up to temperature, remove it from the heat and let it sit at room temperature to cool to 95-110 deg.
- While it’s cooling, rinse out the jar and pour water from the double boiler into the jar to sterilize it (you only want the yogurt cultures growing in that jar) and just let it sit there until the milk has cooled to between 95-110 deg.
- Once the milk has cooled, pour the hot water from the jar and any water left in the double boiler into a tea kettle or other heat retaining device.
- Mix a couple tablespoons of yogurt into the milk (must contain live, active cultures), then pour this into the sterilized jar.
- Put the lid on the jar and wrap it in a towel to maintain the optimum temperature for the cultures to grow. I just slide an oven mitt over the jar because it’s easy to handle and I know it will insulate well.
- Put the wrapped jar in a cooler (I use my water bath canner because it’s just the right size for the jar and my tea kettle). Put the tea kettle or other heat retaining device in the cooler next to the jar of milk. If the tea kettle’s too hot you can put a hot pad under it so your cooler doesn’t melt.
- Close your cooler and don’t move or touch or open your yogurt until the next morning (10-12 hours). After the time has passed, remove it from the cooler and it will be thick, creamy, and delicious (probably even a little warm).
- Stick it in your fridge and make sure to save some of that batch for your next batch.
A couple things to note: yogurt cultures weaken over time, so when I buy store bought yogurt I use a couple tablespoons to make a batch of my own yogurt and save the rest of the store bought in an ice cube tray so I can use that “first generation” of yogurt to make quite a few batches (defrost them by putting a little of the hot milk into a bowl with the cubes before adding the yogurt to your batch…if you add the cubes directly to your jar of milk it could bring the temp a little too low for effective culturing, and do not microwave to defrost them). My “second generation” of yogurt is the batch I make with the store bought. As I’m coming to the end of my store bought cultures I make one jar of yogurt and freeze it in the ice cube trays to use as a starter for the “third generation.” This way I get many more batches of yogurt from one store bought yogurt container. If I just used a couple tablespoons from the first batch to make the second, then a couple tablespoons from the second to make the third, I would get about 5 batches before the cultures weaken to the point of needing a new starter. By thinking in generations, I get about 30 batches from the same container of store bought. You could also make a bigger batch of yogurt when you’re making it to use for a starter, and it would last even longer. I do a quart at a time, but might double that in my next batch.
I’ve heard of people making yogurt using their slow cooker as well, and like I said, when you start looking for ways to make it you’ll find plenty. See what works for you and stick with it. It’s definitely worth it to make your own, and once you try it you’ll see that it’s even easier than it sounds.