Make Your Own Yogurt

Cook, DIY, How-To, Learn, Make, Try This at Home, Weekend Project

As of last week, I may have single-handedly been keeping Fagein business. Over the course of the work week, I’d eat my way through at least two of the largest cartons of yogurt they sell. For every breakfast and every quick snack — it’s always plain yogurt with fresh fruit.

 

Last week, I decided it was time for a more cost-effective approach to my yogurt addiction. Customers have rated the Automatic Yogurt Maker we sell at Williams-Sonoma 4.8 out of 5 stars, with over 110 reviews. I knew it was time to make a move on one before the cashiers at Whole Foods began to gossip about me.

 

During my next trip to the store, I bought a gallon of 2% milk to use with the freeze-dried yogurt starter you buy with the machine. Those are the only ingredients you need to make yogurt. I have a cooking thermometer at home, too, and you’ll definitely want to use one.

 

Here’s how the process works:

 

In a pot or saucepan, heat milk until it starts to simmer (about 180°F). I used 2% milk because that’s my preference, but you could use whole or skim instead. The more the milk boils, the firmer the resulting yogurt will be, so to keep mine soft, I allowed the milk just to form tiny bubbles around the edges. Then, take the milk off the heat and let it cool to 111° to 113°F.

 

Once the milk has cooled, mix in the freeze-dried yogurt starter. You can add regular unsweetened yogurt in place of the starter if you like, either from a previous batch or store-bought. Since this was my first attempt, I chose the starter, but next time I’ll use yogurt from this batch to make the next one. Some families in Greece and Lebanon have been using the same yogurt culture for generations!

 

Then pour the milk into jars to be incubated in the yogurt maker. This machine comes with its own jars, each 6 oz., which are a nice portion size for breakfasts and snacks.

 

Place the jars in the machine without their lids.

 

Secure the lid on the yogurt maker and plug it in. The digital screen will prompt you to set a timer, which will tell the machine how long to ferment the yogurt. I set it for nine hours, the time recommended for 2% milk. Incubation times are different for whole- or skim-milk yogurt.

 

Then I went to bed.

 

I woke up like a kid on Christmas morning, eager to see if the process had worked. Of course, it had: I could see the yogurt had solidified in the jars.

 

Still, the finished yogurt has to be refrigerated for three hours before you can eat it in order to stop the incubation. I dutifully screwed on the lids and stuck the jars in the fridge, looking forward to an afternoon taste.

 

It was worth the wait! I spooned the yogurt over a chopped peach for a refreshing snack and was surprised by the pleasant texture. Though not as thick as Greek yogurt, mine was soft and creamy — a far cry from the firm, gelatinous varieties I’ve come across in stores. And if you’re a devotee of thick, rich Greek yogurt, you can always strain it through a cheesecloth-lined colander.

 

This process is only the first of my yogurt-making adventures, so stay tuned. I’ll be back to experiment with flavored yogurts, savory sauces and even — my most exciting challenge — truly homemade frozen yogurt.

 

About the author: Olivia Terenzio grew up in Mississippi, where she cultivated a love of sweet potatoes, crawfish and cloth napkins at a young age. A passion for sharing food with friends and family led her into the kitchen and later to culinary school, where she learned how to roast a chicken and decorate a cake like a pro. As a Williams-Sonoma blog editor, she’s now lucky enough to be talking, writing and thinking about food all day.

17 comments about “Make Your Own Yogurt

  1. Chiot's Run

    I’ve been making yogurt for quite a while and it’s such a great way to save money, not to mention it’s so much tastier (especially when you can use local pastured milk). Kudos to you for learning to make your own – a word of warning – delving into home fermenting can lead down a road of making all kinds of wonderful things. Before you know it you’ll have jars of sauerkraut and olives curing on your counter!

    I have a yogurt maker that makes a quart at a time which is nice since I’m always low on fridge space. When it’s warm in the summer I don’t even bother with the yogurt maker I simply set the jar of yogurt in my attic for 4-8 hours – saves electric and allows me to make a half gallon at a time (which we eat and feed to our pets).

    Usually I ferment my yogurt for different lengths of time depending on how thick I want it and how acidic I want it. If you only ferment for four hours it will be much less acidic than what you ferment for 8 hours – so if you have a household member that prefers milder yogurt this is the way to achieve it.

    Reply
  2. Kate@Diethood

    I’ve been making yogurt since knee high without a yogurt maker. It’s so easy… boil a gallon of milk, cool it for an hour, stir in 6 oz. non-fat plain yogurt, cover the pot with a large bath towel and let it sit overnight on top of the stove. In the morning put the yogurt in a large plastic container with a cover, chill for a couple of hours, and voila! Reserve 6 oz. of yogurt for the next batch. :)

    Reply
  3. jolanthe

    love it! thanks for the easy step by step description! What do you think, would the process be the same if you use soymilk? or rice or almondmilk?

    Reply
  4. Ron

    I have making yogurt all my life without a yogurt maker or starter. Heat the milk, add some yogurt from previous batch and let sit in warm place for 6 to 8 hours. Perfect every time.

    Reply
  5. annie

    I really enjoyed your tutorial and personal experience making yogurt! It’s also nice you rated the yogurt maker too! I think it’s important to know what goes into our food and the best way to accomplish this…is by making as much of our own food as possible.

    Reply
  6. Micci Griffin

    Can you add the fruit in at the beginning to add more of the fruit’s flavor to the yogurt? I found this very interesting and I know I want to do this on my own now. I’ve been eating Activia for a few years now for health concerns and wonder what I could add to keep my ‘system’ in smooth working order..Thanks!

    Reply
  7. Olivia Ware Post author

    Micci, you can stir fruit into the milk mixture before you start incubating. For a taste similar to commercial flavored yogurts, the fruit can be cooked with a little bit of sugar before adding to the milk. Stay tuned — that’s definitely an experiment I’ll be trying here!

    Reply
  8. Olivia Ware Post author

    Jolanthe, you should be able to make yogurt the same way using alternative milks, though I’ve read that the consistency of the finished product can vary.

    Reply
  9. Carol

    I had this yogurt maker a couple of years ago and used it for exactly one year. Then it stopped working.

    Reply
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  12. Patty

    To make Greek yogurt, add 5 Tbsps. of Non-fat dry milk to the milk before heating. That’s what my Euro-cuisine cookbook says, and it works great. Lots more protein that way!!

    Reply
  13. Gaurang patel

    Hey, its looking awesome dish but i cant make it at home as do not have yogurt making machine like as cuisine. So, can you mail me about whole process without using yogurt maker machine?

    Reply
  14. Sue

    Everything (flavor) came out on my yogurt but it’s not thick enough. Consistency of buttermilk/milk. Can you help me. I don’t have a machine I just did it on the stove by boiling about five minutes then added flavoring and plain yogurt and sat covered for five hours then to fridge. Thank you!

    Reply
  15. Olivia Ware Post author

    Sue, I’ve never made it on the stove, so I can’t speak from experience. I do know that a longer incubating time (at least in the machine) helps to thicken the mixture; maybe you could leave it out on the counter longer? Hope this helps!

    Reply
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  17. Kimbi yuh Lawrence

    Hello Sir
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