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Homemade Yogurt

By Tia Ohm

Yes, finally! It is here. And guess what? It’s easier than you think. The trickiest part is keeping the milk at the right temperature for the incubation period. This took us a few tries to get it the way we like it, but now we have it down to a science and it is the best homemade yogurt in the world.

Now, you may wonder what the benefit of homemade yogurt is. Well to start, it’s cheaper. One $5 gallon of milk (and that’s raw milk from a local farm) makes 4 quarts of yogurt. That is roughly $1.25 per quart. I doubt you can find organic yogurt at that price anywhere near you.

Second off, it’s better for you; full of good fats and cultures and it’s a great source of probiotics which aid in digestion and healing of the gut.

Third, once you get the hang of it, it tastes way better. It is real. Like I said before, ours is the best yogurt I have ever tasted. And not to mention, you get the comfort of knowing you made it yourself. That in itself makes it worth it.

Yes, this will take some time and effort, but what good things don’t? If your family loves yogurt, I’d say, give it a try.

You can use the amounts written below, or if you would only like 1 quart of yogurt at a time, be sure to limit your starter yogurt to only 1 teaspoon and 1 quart of milk.

What You’ll Need

  • 1 gallon whole, raw cows milk (if you want low fat yogurt, use skim or 2% milk)
  • 1 T organic plain ‘starter’ yogurt, (i.e. stonyfield or horizon)
  • 4 quart-sized mason jars
  • thermometer
  • One large pot, and one slightly smaller
  • heating pad, blanket, yogurt maker, thermos or some other way of insulation

What to Do:

1. Begin by preparing a double boiler. This method works best to easily warm up your milk as to not scorch or burn it. We use a very large pot of water filled about half way, with another large (but smaller) pot full of your gallon of milk.


2. Turn on your flame and warm up your milk that is in the double boiler until it reaches 180°. This is where the thermometer comes into play. As your milk is heating, be sure to mix often with a whisker to avoid a film from forming on the top of the milk all the while keeping track of the temperature of the milk. This should take about 20 minutes.


3. Once the milk reaches 180°, remove from water bath and allow to cool to 110°. You can simply allow to cool in room temperature, or speed this process up by preparing an ice bath to put your pot in for the milk to cool quicker. Keep checking the temperature of the milk during this process as you do not want it to be colder than 110°. If you do end up getting it too cold, place back in the water bath and warm up to reach that preferred temperature.


4. Once your milk reaches 110°, prepare your starter by mixing 1 T of your plain yogurt with about 1 cup of the warm milk in a separate container. We use a small mason jar and shake well until mixed. Add your starter mixture into the pot of warmed milk and stir well again with your whisker.

5. Pour your warm milk into your 4 quart sized jars and put the lid on each. Now it’s time to incubate your milk at about 110° for at least 8 hours; however, we prefer to go 12-24 hours long as it yields a firmer yogurt and tangier taste. To do this you can use a your oven, turned to warm until temperature reaches 110° then turned off and closed with the yogurt jars inside; the containers wrapped in a blanket in a cooler; or some place that will help to maintain the 110° for that extended period of time. If you have a heating pad, or heated blanket, keep on warm and wrap your jars in that for incubation. Be sure to put your jars of milk in a safe place where they won’t be disturbed by your kids or animals during this process.

(The image shown below is using 2 gallons of milk; hence the long line of jars)


6. Once the 12-24 hours is up, store your jars in the fridge to allow to cool down; at least 2-3 hours.

7. You know you’ve done it right when the yogurt is thick in texture and a nice cream top has formed on top (this will only happen with whole milk).

8. Enjoy with your favorite granola and seasonal fruit (try our steel cut oat granola).

Makes 4 quarts of yogurt