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Why would anyone want to make yogurt when it’s so much easier to buy?  Well, the cost difference for one.

For greek yogurt, a 6-ounce container was over $1 last time I took a peek in the store, verses $.40 for the kind I make at home.  Even less for the same amount of regular yogurt that is made at home.

And, since you make it in bulk, you always have yogurt on hand.  Depending on how you flavor it, you can use it in a variety of different ways.

Is it hard to make yogurt?  Is it messy?  Is it complicated?  Does it involve a bunch of different and/or special ingredients?

No, no, no and no.

The only supplies that you may have to acquire if you don’t have them already for this method is a crock pot with a “warm” setting on it and a thermometer that measures temperatures below 120 degrees.  If you already have these things, you will find that making yogurt is pretty simple.  My candy thermometer does not register below 120 degrees, so I had to improvise.

This is a barbeque meat fork that also has a built-in thermometer for testing the doneness of meat on the grill.  Hey, it beats going out and buying a thermometer!

Here is a picture of the long list of ingredients you will need to make the yogurt:

Supplies are:

  • large size colander
  • coffee filters or cheesecloth
  • wooden spoon
  • big cooking pot
  • thermometer or sensor that will register under 120 degrees
  • blanket
  • crock pot with “warm” setting

You need the live culture in the container of yogurt to start the yogurt making process.  Once you get your first batch of yogurt made, you can use a little of that to make the next batch, and so on.

I am showing 2% milk here, but I used skim in the yogurt in the picture, and I have used 1% and whole as well.  The consistency of the yogurt will still be great whatever you decide to use.

To get started:

Measure out your milk.  For greek yogurt you will need twice as much milk as you want yogurt — I usually use 10-12 cups for 5 cups of yogurt.  For regular yogurt measure the same amount of milk or more as you want yogurt, depending on how much you want to strain it — I usually use 5-6 cups.

Put the milk in the pot and heat until it reaches around 170 degrees.    

Remove milk from heat and allow to cool to around 110-115 degrees, but not above 117 degrees.  Take about a cup of the heated milk and stir 1 tablespoon of plain or vanilla yogurt for every two cups of milk you have heated (when I use 8-12 cups of milk, I just dump the whole 6oz carton of yogurt in).  Mix in with the rest of the milk and pour all in the crock pot without scraping the sides of the pan.   

Put the lid on the crock pot turned to “off” and wrap the crock pot in the blanket to keep it all warm and snuggly. 

Let the milk sit for about 8 hours, switching it on to “warm” if the temperature of the milk gets below 100 degrees.  Watch the temperature when the crock pot is on!  The milk can’t get over 117 degrees or you’ll kill the yogurt cultures!   If this happens, you’ll have to cool the milk back down to below 117 degrees, add more yogurt, and start the 8-hour waiting process again.

After yogurt is done, put the whole thing in the fridge to cool.

Line a colander that will hold all the yogurt at once with coffee filters and place the colander over a large bowl.

Dump your yogurt in and allow to drain.

For greek yogurt I usually cover the whole thing and put it in the refrigerator overnight to allow all of the whey to drain off.

For regular yogurt I allow it to drain anywhere from not at all to just a few hours, depending on how thick or thin I want it.  The less whey you drain off, the more yogurt you will have.

My son likes me to freeze the whey and save it for him so he doesn’t have to keep buying the expensive protein whey powder that he uses to help him bulk up a little.  Our dog also loves the stuff — it’s chock full of protein.

To flavor the yogurt, I have tried many things.  I used to flavor the whole batch at once, but then I realized that I can use the plain yogurt to cook with.  So, lately I have been flavoring some batches by the serving.  Either method you use, there are many ways of adding flavor to yogurt.

The first couple of batches I made I stirred in a jar of preserves, and I have also used pie filling.  This makes your yogurt oh-so-good, but not very diet-friendly.  I have also chunked up some frozen fruit and mixed in artificial sweetener with good results.  Other recipes for yogurt use honey, fresh fruit, and canned fruit, among other things.  

For the yogurt I have pictured in this post, I used a can of chopped-up mandarin oranges and a box of orange gelatin.  While the flavor is good (I love orange yogurt!), I wouldn’t recommend using gelatin to flavor yogurt because it does something a little wacky to the consistency.  I think the gelatin must have set up separately from the yogurt.  Although the yogurt isn’t grainy, it seems slightly tiny curd cottage cheese-ish in consistency.

I do hope you’ll give this a try!  The first time I made yogurt I was nervous the whole time, from start to finish!  I have learned since then to keep a few spare containers of yogurt on hand in case I mess up and let the mixture get too hot.  Now I hardly even think about it when I make yogurt.  

In the summer, as a matter of fact, on really hot 95+ degree days, I don’t even use the “warm” setting on my crock pot.  I just set the whole crock-pot-in-a-blanket outside in the sun and it stays at just the right temperature.

Above all, have fun!