Homemade yogurt is simple and inexpensive. There is a learning curve and there are a few details you must pay attention to, but it is a mostly hands-off process that can deliver yogurt to your fridge at a fraction of the cost.
I’ve been making homemade yogurt for over 7 years, with differing levels of success. I think I’ve tried every method Pinterest boasts, except for trying a specialty yogurt maker.
No, I want my yogurt family-sized. I want to make it a gallon at a time.
Three years ago, I landed on the method that works best for me and requires no special equipment. All it takes is a large pot with a lid, a thermometer, an oven. As far as ingredients, all you need is a gallon of milk (I use whole milk) and a cup of purchased or previously-made yogurt.
I also recommend a timer, but we’ll get to that.
How to Make Thick Homemade Yogurt
- Pour a gallon of whole milk into a large pot and bring up to 180* slowly, keeping watch on it so it doesn’t bubble over. If it does spill over, just move it off the heat. The milk is still fine, you just have a bigger mess to clean up.
- Turn off the heat and let the milk sit, uncovered, until the temperature is reduced to between 100-110 degrees. This will take a long time.
- Slowly and gentle introduce 1 cup yogurt to the warm milk. Do not “incorporate” it. Add it to the milk and slowly and gently stir the pot a tiny bit.
- Put the lid on the pot and put the pot in the barely-warm oven. If you can manually turn on the light in the oven, do so. Close the oven and set a timer for 8-12 hours.
- After 10ish hours (ok, sometimes it’s been as many as 20 for me), pull the pot out of the oven, check to make sure it’s thickened (by looking, don’t stir). Put the pot straight into the fridge without disturbing the yogurt. Let it chill overnight before transferring to containers.
The times this has not worked out for me have all been due to temperature problems. Don’t turn the heat on in the oven – invariably, it will become too hot and kill the bacteria and you’ll have spoiled milk instead of yogurt. Other times, I’ve forgotten to use a thermometer to test the milk temperature before adding the yogurt starter, so the milk was hotter than I thought and killed the bacteria.
By putting the fresh yogurt in the fridge before disturbing it, the yogurt has a chance to thicken and the consistency and texture is greatly improved. It means you have to plan ahead and allot plenty of time, but it’s worth it!
My best tip is to use a timer! An alarm on your phone is the best. I set an alarm for when I need to move the yogurt from the oven to the fridge – because if I don’t it might be 24-30 hours before I remember! Also setting a timer to remind yourself to check the milk as it cools down from the beginning pasteurizing step is helpful.
Homemade yogurt is simple and straightforward and you don’t need extra appliances to do it!
Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!