Thursday, April 30, 2009

Homemade Yogurt

Last summer my kids really dove into yogurt. They'd easily go through one 650mL tub of it daily and those plastic tubs kept piling up. I donate most of them (along with other plastic my local recycling depot won't yet accept) to my son's Kindergarten classroom. His teacher shares them with the other primary teachers, so I know they're not going to landfill anytime soon. I decided that, for the cost of yogurt, I could be making my own without artificial colours, flavours or added sugar. I could also cut down on the number of plastic tubs coming into my house.

I once tried a homemade yogurt recipe using powdered milk, and it was awful. The kids hated it and I wasn't too impressed, either. This time, I spent some time looking for a better recipe and found one on It calls for cream along with the milk, and I don't bother mixing them. I just use regular 2% milk (that's what's usually on hand) and the least expensive plain yogurt available at my local grocery store.
All in all though, the recipe and instructions there were really simple and I recommend this for anyone who likes yogurt!

Are you ready? I’ll give you a really detailed account of how I make it.

This is so easy.

You need:
Medium saucepan
Whisk, sterilised with boiling water.
Candy thermometer
1.5L (or quarts, or as much as you want to make) of 2% milk
Approximately 120 ml (1/2 cup) of plain store bought or homemade yogurt
(you need this for the a/b bacterial culture!)

Suitable glass or plastic bowl with lid or cover sterilised with boiling water.

1. Heat the milk in the saucepan on medium heat, stirring frequently with a spoon or whisk. Bring it to about 180°F but no higher. The goal here is to re-pasteurise the milk to kill any unwanted bacteria, not to let it come to a boil.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit to cool until the milk is about 100°F.

3. Boil enough water in your teakettle to pour all over the glass or plastic container you’re using, as well as your whisk. (Don’t dry them with towels, just shake out the hot water, it’ll dry fast from the heat.) This should make them bacteria-free as well. When the milk has cooled enough, whisk in the plain yogurt for a few minutes so it’s combined.

4. Pour the yogurt-milk mixture into your container and set it inside your oven with the light on. If your oven doesn’t have a light, check for a ‘warm’ function, or preheat it a wee bit, then turn it off when you place your container inside. It should be as warm as an ideal place to let bread dough rise, if that helps.

5. Let it sit for 6 to 8 hours and then cover it and put it in the fridge for a while to chill, even overnight. When it's cold, take the cover off and lay your loosely folded cheesecloth directly on top of the yogurt, and leave it in the fridge like this for a few hours. It’s going to draw up the whey from your yogurt to thicken it. (My thanks go to my friend Helen for this tip. I was originally trying to strain it through coffee filters in a sieve, which took a lot of space in the fridge and more sterilising!)

Whey is the watery liquid that separates from the yogurt. It isn’t bad for you or anything. In fact, if you decide to strain it with a sieve and filter you can use the liquid for bread and other recipes. We just don’t want it in our yogurt if we’re going to add things later to flavour it, or it’ll be really runny.

6. Rinse, wring and reapply your cheesecloth as many times as you wish to reach your desired consistency. If you like your yogurt really thick so you can add fruit syrups or even maple syrup, use the cheesecloth more than 3 times. Stir it, add whatever you like and enjoy!
When stirring your yogurt, if you find it has a gooey, elastic consistency to it, then you didn’t kill enough unwanted bacteria. It shouldn’t affect the flavour, and as long as you’re sure your container and whisk were acceptably clean, I don’t think it’ll hurt you to eat it. (No ill affects here, anyway!)

I usually add strawberry or raspberry jam to our yogurt, or fresh berries if I have them on hand. It’s better if you can find jams without added sugar, but unless you make your own jams they usually cost more, which makes buying store bought yogurt much cheaper than making it yourself. If you don’t mind that cost though, you can still feel proud of saving the planet from one more ‘disposable’ plastic container.
I’m not a big fan of “Activia” brand yogurt, the kids and I don’t like the flavour, so I’ve never tried making homemade yogurt from pro-biotic types. If you try making some, or use another great yogurt recipe or method, please share your results by commenting below!

Thanks for stopping by! ~ Jan


  1. Yummy that sounds good. Sadly I think my daughter has a milk allergy so for the time being that means no dairy for me. I have been craving yogurt too!

  2. Dairy products can be such a picky thing when you're nursing!