Make Your Own Yogurt--It's Easy

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
2/19/2010 2:00 PM   :  234 comments   :  41,869 Views

When I was younger, my favorite author was Laura Ingalls Wilder, and of her books, Farmer Boy, was the one I reread most often.

Recounting the childhood of her husband, Almanzo Wilder, on an upstate New York farm, Farmer Boy is full of details about cooking from scratch and feeding a family. Together with the Little House cookbook, this book fueled my daydreams of cooking from scratch and being a pioneer girl. Fast forward 20 years, and some of those daydreams are a reality. I cook almost everything we eat from scratch, from spaghetti sauce and soup to granola and yogurt.

Yes, yogurt. While Almanzo and Laura milked cows, I buy mine from the supermarket--a local brand that makes milk the old-fashioned way.

A few months back, I started thinking about ways to cut out even more processed foods and saving money on our food bills. We're keen on granola, berries and Greek yogurt as a snack or breakfast. I already make my own granola, and I picked berries last summer and froze them. The only place to scrimp was the yogurt. We eat Greek yogurt, but it's really pricey--sometimes up to $5 or $6 a quart for the organic brand I like. I knew I had to find a cheaper alternative. When my boyfriend's mom gave us her slow cooker, I found my answer.

Using this easy recipe for Slow Cooker Yogurt (click the link for details and directions), I turn a half-gallon of milk into one quart of protein-rich Greek yogurt (I strain it overnight in the fridge over a bowl using unbleached coffee filters and a sieve) and about a quart of whey (which I use in my smoothies). The thickened yogurt easily scrapes off the coffee filters. I start the yogurt on Friday mornings, and it's ready for Saturday morning breakfasts.

We like unsweetened yogurt and use 2% milk. You can use skim, but I recommend adding a packet of unflavored gelatin to the finished yogurt to thicken it. My grandparents use skim milk and sugar-free flavored gelatin to make their yogurt.

My Slow Cooker Yogurt is slightly sweet, rich and creamy. I love it--and I'll never go back to store-bought again. And now, I'm saving at least $12 a month by making my own. (4 quarts=$24 or so; two gallons of milk=$12)

Will you try making your own yogurt? What is your favorite variety of yogurt?


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Comments

  • 234
    Making yogurt is something I've been doing weekly for many years. I got to the point where I wondered if it were possible to make my own starter. Yes, I did succeed by using, of all things, the stems of chili peppers. - 7/12/2014   11:45:28 PM
  • 233
    I so enjoyed this blog. Currently I enjoy Fage 0%. I like the fact that it doesn't have a long list of ingredients. I'm fortunate to get nearly 1400 grams for $6. One day when I am able to buy milk directly from a cow I will definitely try this method. Thanks again! - 3/5/2014   4:18:19 PM
  • 232
    I used to use this recipe to make yogurt quite a bit a year or so ago. It is incredibly easy and so much tastier than store-bought yogurt (not to mention much cheaper)! - 1/9/2014   4:05:59 PM
  • HOUSEWIFELY
    231
    Got a kick out of reading the comments that people made about digging the yogurt maker with the 6 cups out of the closet. Also the lady who couldn't find the instructions....you can find them online....free, I did, after buying the "old yogurt maker, brand new" at a yardsale for $2......I like the crockpot instructions better, gonna try that one!
    - 9/29/2013   1:12:49 PM
  • 230
    I recently started making my own Greek yogurt, and once you know what you're doing, it's very easy! I incubate it in my oven with the light on and a cotton towel wrapped around the bowl. I use the whey in my garden for acid-loving plants. - 9/25/2013   11:39:52 AM
  • 229
    I'm going to try this~ - 3/16/2013   4:11:45 PM
  • 228
    I think this is very helpful, I am going to try this! - 1/26/2013   2:55:37 AM
  • 227
    I've been teasing my husband, who loves milk but has cut back since he was diagnosed with diabetes, that I'm going to start using some of the milk that no longer gets drunk so quickly to make yogurt... but I've been wary of directions that tell me I need to leave my oven on overnight--I'm likely to forget to turn it off in the mornings, and I've got little girls running around paying little attention to an oven door that might be hot. A slow cooker is the perfect solution I never thought of!

    I have dreams of growing, raising, and cooking all my own foods from scratch... but it's going to be a challenge between raising my little girls and going to work at an office. I always consider myself lucky to find the time to cook with the processed stuff from the store instead of tossing something in the microwave!

    Thanks, Stepfanie! - 1/16/2013   3:30:08 PM
  • 226
    Very cool, but not worth my efforts especially since I have to buy the milk anyway. Between the cost of milk and the labor, it's easier to buy a quality yogurt from the store. Would be different if i owned my own cow :) - 1/11/2013   3:49:29 PM
  • 225
    I love greek yogurt and try to fit it into my food budget. Mostly it is a great breakfast with chopped almonds, cinnamon, and fruit (when I have some). I know I'm not ambitious enough to try this recipe so I just buy the least expensive brand I can find at WinCo. - 9/3/2012   8:57:33 PM
  • 224
    What an awesome idea! I've tried making my own cheese from milk before and it was pretty good. I'll definitely give this a go! - 6/7/2012   2:59:49 PM
  • LOULOU1066
    223
    I have been making yogurt for a couple of years now and even sterilize the milk myself. I get the milk straight from the farmers and then strain the yogurt to make the really creamy 'greek style'. It tastes so much sweeter than commercial yogurt and I get a great feeling of satisfaction by making my own. My husband and children love it with bananas and pine honey for breakfast. - 4/18/2012   6:25:57 AM
  • 222
    I've been wanting to make homemade yogourt, but didn't want to buy a yogourt maker. I'm thrilled to know that I can make yogourt in a slow cooker, and plan to try to make a batch soon! - 4/15/2012   10:03:59 PM
  • STIM7301
    221
    So were do I click to get the details about how to make this yogurt? - 3/29/2012   11:24:15 AM
  • 220
    I have been making yogurt this way for about a year now and it is well worth the effort involved. I hadn't made Greek yogurt until a couple of months ago, but it is better than store-bought and the whey can be used in so many things. I like the tangy flavor and I have had friends comment that there was so much more flavor in my homemade yogurt than any store-bought they had eaten. I add a little honey or maple syrup to mine if I want sweetener or put it over cereal or berries. Yummy. - 11/8/2011   8:18:11 AM
  • 219
    I am going to try this!
    - 6/29/2011   8:06:48 PM
  • 218
    I am going to try this!
    - 6/29/2011   8:06:46 PM
  • 217
    Farmer Boy was my favorite of the Wilder books too! - 6/28/2011   11:23:51 PM
  • 216
    WoW! I adore home made yogurt. I remember my mother making it with some fancy machine back in the 70's. Can't wait to try it! Perhaps even tomorrow. - 10/16/2010   9:44:36 PM
  • 215
    I've made yoghurt lots of times in the oven years ago, in slow oven, but I want to try making it in the crockpot! I love yoghurt - sometimes I want the tangy taste to add to savory vegetables and other times I sweeten it with stevia, honey, maple syrup, molasses, fruits, or sugarless fruit jams/preserves! It's YUMMY and yoghurt does better for my digestive system and sinuses than drinking pasteurized homogenized milk (or even raw organic milk, too)... - 10/16/2010   12:33:19 PM
  • ETHELMERZ
    214
    I'm realistic enough to know I'm going to buy the greek yogurt at walmart, and not mess around with making it. I only put 3 dollops of it on my morning egg substitutes with veggies, and no one else eats it at all in this house. Some of the flavored brands give me problems with the toidy, so I stick to the fat free plain stuff. - 10/15/2010   9:23:09 PM
  • HODGES527
    213
    I used this same recipe last weekend to may my first batch of homemade yogurt. It turned out great. I am going to keep it up. I used whole milk for the first batch. I usually drink soy milk so I am going to try that this weekend. From what I have read this recipe works with soy milk, too. - 10/15/2010   10:36:45 AM
  • 212
    I just made this recipe last night and am eating it now.
    I wouldn't call it sweet. It is quite tangy. I added some locally produced honey to sweeten it. I plan to strain it later. - 10/15/2010   7:51:48 AM
  • 211
    I too do my own yogurt for years now - 2 pints/week using skim milk, microwave and add some nonfat dried milk powder to make it ticker. Someday it turn out perfectly, some other days, its isn't so successfull. I read that you should'nt use metal ustensile, be very cautious with temperature before adding your culture and the longer it stay, the firmer it become. - 10/15/2010   7:35:36 AM
  • SUZYQSBREAD
    210
    That is just way too cool!!!! I get my milk fresh from the cow (got me some connections, i do, lol) and plan to give this a whirl what that milk...the whole milk with all the nice cream risen to the top...i've a feeling it will be superb!!! Thanks :) - 10/15/2010   6:47:00 AM
  • TINA675
    209
    I also make my own yogurt. I use a gallon of skim milk. I boil the milk in the microwave. I let it cool to 120-125 degrees then I add 1 tablespoon of my last yogurt to the milk and keep it in the oven. I only turn the oven on for 10 seconds and then I shut it off. It provides a warm place for the yogurt to work ( 4hours). The yogurt comes out very thick and creamy. I also sometimes strain to make greek yogurt. This is economical and has less preservatives than store bought. - 10/14/2010   11:13:52 PM
  • 208
    I've made yoghurt before - both with the storing it in a warm thermos to keep warm, as well as in gas oven. Bought the maker with the six cups but haven't messed with it (they didn't come with directions so I'm not sure if I'm supposed to innoculate the milk first before I pour it into each of the six cups, or if I innoculate each of the six cups - seems excessive.). But this slow=cooker method looks like it would be a great way to go!! I'll have to try this too. And I have also frozen yoghurt with great results. When I get these unexpected really good sales at the store on the individual portions of yoghurt (like where they are just about to expire) - those freeze up wonderfully and then when I thaw them out about part way and stir them up so the fruit is not stuck at the bottom, it's a great dessert!! - 8/25/2010   9:34:29 AM
  • 207
    I make my own yoghurt- not greek yogurt, but use 6 cups skim milk and 2 cups powdered milk to thicken it and up the calcium content. Hubby and I both love it, - 7/23/2010   2:57:38 PM
  • 206
    I won’t say that it was the yogurt, and I won’t say that it wasn’t. Odd coincidence...? Maybe. All I know is I've had a bad reaction to something. A day an a half later almost feeling human again.

    * There is a demonstration on making yogurt but using a thermometer to be sure of the correct heating... may be safer *
    - 6/16/2010   6:11:15 PM
  • 205
    With the cost of milk, I don't think it would pay me to do this. I'll just stay with buying it at the grocery store. - 3/24/2010   12:51:21 AM
  • 204
    I have to admit I have never thought about making my own yogurt before. My girls are the big yogurt eaters of the family and I must say making our own yogurt has me intrigued. I would love for you to also publish your homemade spaghetti sauce. :) - 3/16/2010   6:14:15 PM
  • 203
    I just made this and am very excited! My first batch was a flop- it really helps if you don't juxtapose steps 2 & 3- but this batch looks great. A little thinner than I 'd like ( I did not strain it overnight, just went with the original recipe) so I'll try straining it next time if it hasn't thickened up any. Considering how my kids eat yogurt, this will be a budget saver! - 3/11/2010   3:56:14 PM
  • WONDERGIRL50
    202
    I was surprised to see the warning to not use ultra high temp pasteurized milk. I made delicious, thick yogurt for several years using UHT milk but never had success with fresh milk. I will try this recipe (with fresh milk) and will add dry milk powder, which is a good way to increase the calcium and protein while thickening the yogurt without gelatin. - 3/6/2010   11:06:18 PM
  • 201
    I tried this recipe over the weekend and it turned out pretty good. I would like it a bit thicker so this morning I poured part of the recipe into a strainer lined with a coffee filter, and left for work. Am excited to see if I have a thicker "greek" style yogurt this evening. Next batch I'll tinker with the recipe just a bit. But taste is great. - 3/1/2010   7:43:15 PM
  • 200
    I'm so disappointed! It didn't work. It must be the yogurt I used as a starter because I see that iamsharkb8 had the same experience I did. Nor does the coffee filter trick seem to work, at least not yet. - 2/28/2010   6:13:57 PM
  • 199
    Can anyone tell me how much of the whey to use in smoothies? I love that I can make my yogurt thicker, and use everything. That is what whole foods are all about! - 2/28/2010   1:13:58 PM
  • 198
    Once I had Greek yogurt, I never wanted the other stuff. I can't wait to try this recipe. - 2/26/2010   9:16:25 AM
  • 197
    Once I tasted Greek yogurt, I never went back to any other type. It's delicious, creamy and natural. It feels like an indulgence. I add fresh fruit to plain 2% and it makes a yummy, quick lunch. The recipe sounds very easy to make... - 2/25/2010   6:05:05 PM
  • PAN4190
    196
    made the yogurt..very easy..i used 2% milk in the slow cooker..i did add the non-flavored gelatin and small contaner of plain greek...came out good and thick...have used it with blueberries for breakfast..in a smoothie with honey and mixed berries...and made a dill sauce for my fish....thanks for the recipe...saved 1/2 cup for the next batch - 2/25/2010   5:46:40 PM
  • 195
    I've been making my own yogurt for over a year, though I've never made it in the slow cooker before. I use my oven for a heat source--really low temperature--I turn on the oven light and turn the heat on to just around 100 degrees (turn the dial very slowly until the preheat light comes on, then turn the dial back just a wee bit). I use whole milk, and add about 1/2 cup dried skim milk powder for thickening, and about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of Astro Biobest plain yogurt as a starter (unless I have some left from a previous batch).
    It does save money, and you can be sure of what is going into it. My daughter is a vegetarian and doesn't do gelatin, so it's nice to be able to make it without. I'm kind of interested in trying a flavored one using flavored diet jello though!
    Although it is great plain, I also like it with a touch of honey and walnuts, or with added fruit and a bit of granola or almonds. - 2/24/2010   7:49:23 PM
  • ERNAFLOWER
    194
    THANK YOU! It has been literally years since I started looking for a yogurt recipe with consistent results.
    You have made my desire for all natural, healthy, whole food, made from scratch yogurt a reality!
    I used a 6 quart slowcooker and followed the recipe using 1% milk. It was FAB! It was runny at first but thickened up when I put it in the fridge. - 2/24/2010   7:28:18 PM
  • 193
    I love making my own yogurt! I use a small cooler filled with hot-hot water from my tap, I put the sealed jars in the water and close it overnight, works great everytime.

    One thing that I found makes homemade yogurt thicker is adding 1 cup of nonfat dried milk powder to the fresh milk, something about the extra milk solids making it nice and thick like storebought. - 2/24/2010   3:41:45 PM
  • 192
    I have a cup of yogurt every morning, I would love to save some money! I used to make my own yogurt in the 1970's, I would love to try again! - 2/24/2010   3:09:23 PM
  • 191
    this sounds so easy, ive always wanted to try to make my own yogurt but it sounded complicated. I'm going to try this! - 2/24/2010   11:50:20 AM
  • FIT2BEMOMMA
    190
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I decided to try it right after I read the article. I can't believe how easy it was! It does take some time, but it was so worth it. I love that I can make yogurt without added sugar and additives. My kids love it too. It is a thinner yogurt and I thought about straining it to make Greek style, but it made such a great smoothie with fresh fruit and vanilla that I didn't get a chance to strain it! Maybe next time. - 2/24/2010   10:46:44 AM
  • 189
    I am so glad you posted this. I had tried making yogurt before and never like the thin consistency. But I made the slow cooker (crockpot) yogurt with nonfat milk and then strained it. I can now make my own marvelous Greek yogurt. Now what to do with all the whey? - 2/23/2010   6:08:29 PM
  • 188
    I LOVE making my own yogurt! And you can do so many things with it! One of my favorites is a coffee smoothie. - 2/23/2010   5:16:55 PM
  • 187
    Well I tried this again for the first time in nearly 20 years! I should have heated and cooled the milk first, to kill off any of the 'wrong' bacteria and get it to blood heat. It eventually worked - it took an extra day but I've just had a big bowl of yummy yogurt without a trip to the supermarket. And no fiddly equipment needed either :) - 2/23/2010   8:21:59 AM
  • 186
    I will be doing this! - 2/23/2010   12:23:43 AM
  • _MAOMAO_
    185
    Btw, yogurt freezes well, too, especially Greek-style. Plain nonfat doesn't thaw as nicely as Greek-style and any low fat or full fat yogurt.
    - 2/23/2010   12:16:46 AM

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