We eat a fair amount of yogurt at the house. It gets used mostly for protein shakes and smoothies. Between Sedagive? and myself we were going through a 32 ounce container of Greek yogurt every four days. I typically purchase the Kirkland Greek yogurt available from Costco, which sells for about $6 for a pack of two 32 ounce containers.
While washing yet another empty plastic to save for “something” instead of throwing it away, my friend Doppelgänger declared he’d made Greek yogurt at home.
Hrm. At home? How hard was it? Was it worth it compared to buying the mostly yummy and definitely inexpensive yogurt from Costco?
What you’ll need
- At least 1/2 gallon of milk. We used 2%, but you can use any type of milk you’d like.
- A double boiler or a large pot for boiling water and a metal bowl that fits firmly within it (this is what I did).
- A thermometer. I used a candy thermometer, but any should do as long as the precision is high enough you can tell when the milk heats up to 180° F and then around 105°F and 110°F.
- A casserole dish or equivalent that can hold the amount of milk you are using to make yogurt. It can be ceramic or glass. It’s helpful if it has a cover, otherwise you will need …
- Aluminum foil or similar to cover the dish.
- Cheesecloth if you want to strain the yogurt to make Greek Yogurt.
- Some towels.
- Two tablespoons of active yogurt culture. Some makers also use the term “live cultures.” Just use some from your existing Greek yogurt in the fridge; we ganked some from our Kirkland container.
- A tablespoon.
- An oven and a range.
- A little tiny bowl. No, smaller than that. Yes, smaller. Yeah, that one. About that size.
- Fill your double boiler or large pot about 1/3 to 1/2 way full of water. Start it boiling on the range.
- If you are not using a double boiler, put the metal bowl on top of the pot once the water starts to boil.
- Pour two tablespoons of milk into that tiny ass bowl I told you about. Now scoop out about two tablespoons of yogurt and mix it with the milk in the tiny bowl. Don’t use more than this amount of either milk or yogurt. It won’t make the process faster, nor will it make your yogurt taste more yogurt-y.
- Put the rest of the milk in the metal bowl. The boiling water will heat the milk without the danger of the milk burning inside of the pot.
- Heat the milk until it gets around 180°F. Remember not to put the thermometer tip on the metal of the bowl; you want to measure the temperature of the milk and not the bowl.
- Pour the milk into your casserole dish.
- Turn the light on inside your oven.
- Let the milk cool to 105°F – 110°F. In my house, this took about 18 minutes. Leave the dish uncovered during this time.
- Mix the milk / yogurt into the warm milk.
Mix it in, but you don’t have to be particularly thorough about it.
- Cover the casserole dish. In my case, I used aluminum foil but if you are some fancypants food nut you may have a lid of some kind. Then wrap the dish in a towel. I had to use two to make sure I snuggled it up nice and good.
- Place the bundle of joy into the oven. Keep the light on. Come back eight to ten hours later.
- DAFLAM! YOGURT!
- Follow the rest of these directions if you want Greek yogurt. Cool the casserole dish in the fridge for about two hours.
- Strain the yogurt with about four layers of cheesecloth. We found it easier to strain the yogurt by using a large metal mesh colander and then lying single ply cheesecloth in two directions.
This is what drained off after about an hour or so:
and here is the finished product! 1/2 gallon of milk yielded a touch over 32 ounces of yogurt.
Making our own Greek yogurt was easy and inexpensive. It was pretty time consuming considering the output, but you don’t have to do much beyond babysit the milk and stir in the milk/yogurt mix.
The yogurt itself is tasty. It seems less tart than the Kirkland yogurt we bought from Costco. The taste doesn’t matter a whole lot to me, since I just mix it into smoothies anyway.
Was it worth it? I guess. The Kirkland yogurt is inexpensive and convenient enough to not make much of a dent monetarily. We’ll probably keep making it because it’s easy, and we can play with different kinds of milkfat levels. If you are keen on knowing where your food is coming from and want to support local agribusiness this may be up your alley. And there’s the whole urban homesteader / preparedness aspect to it.
Give it a try — you probably have all of the hardware necessary and may even have active yogurt in your house. It’s super easy and you can decide for yourself if you want to keep doing it.