Let’s Make Yogurt!

Let's make yogurt! It's delicious, fun, super easy (only two ingredients), and delightfully smooth and creamy. Plus, homemade yogurt contains more cultures than store-bought varieties, yet it's not as sour! You don't have to make it all the time, but you should make it just to see if you like it better than store-bought yogurt. You might find that you prefer the taste and the money you save. You can control the sourness, texture, and exactly what goes into it, skipping the significant amounts of sugar and fillers found in commercial yogurt. You can add healthy sweeteners like fruit, pure maple syrup, juice-sweetened jam, fruit, granola, or raw honey. Or mix in a little sweetened yogurt from the store to sweeten your plain yogurt. Try adding some freshly ground peanut butter, little real maple syrup and a cut-up banana for an exquisite breakfast, snack or dessert. For the kids (or you!) try peanut butter and fruit preserves or jam combo. Making yogurt is a simple but intriguing science experiment for kids who are more likely to eat food they help create. Encourage them to eat yogurt, especially this healthier, fresher, less expensive, and better-tasting homemade one!
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4 cups (32 oz) organic 2% or whole milk thermometer (optional) 2 Tbsp plain yogurt made with live bacteria and milk (do not use yogurt containing filler, thickeners or sweeteners) 1-quart mason jar with lid


1) Place the milk in a pot and heat it over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until you start seeing some bubbles and the top is steaming noticeably, or until the temperature reaches 180 degrees F. If you have a thermometer, use it because it's easier. If you don't have one, don't worry about it (unless this as a science experiment ). Yogurt is very forgiving, but the milk must be cooled sufficiently not to kill the bacteria added to the homemade yogurt from the commercial yogurt. The other temperatures used in these instructions are more flexible. The milk can go higher than 180 degrees F initially but must be cooled to 115 degrees F before the plain yogurt is added.
2) Take the milk off of the heat and let it cool until you can hold your washed finger in it for 10 seconds without it becoming too uncomfortable, or to a temperature of 110-115 F.
3) Mix the plain yogurt with a little bit of the heated milk in a separate bowl. When it’s smooth, add the mixture back to the pot of warm milk and combine well.
4) Pour the cooled, inoculated milk into a mason jar or bowl, cover it with a lid, and place it in a snug warm place. Ideally, it should sit undisturbed for at least 5 hours at a temperature of around 110 degrees F, but don't worry about the temperature being that exact as long as the place where you're storing the yogurt is warm. If the temperature drops below 110, it's no problem, as it just takes the yogurt a little longer to set, which is great for making yogurt overnight.
5) Place the jars in an oven set at 110 degrees F for at least 5 hours but usually for more like 8 hours during the night, and it's not as sour as plain yogurt you buy at the store. If your oven doesn't stay on that low of a temperature, wrap the jars in a warm towel inside of an insulated bag with a heating pad on the lowest setting placed inside the bag between the bag and towel. The heating pad helps everything to stay warm. The longer the yogurt sits and the closer it stays to 110 degrees, the sourer it becomes. In the morning, it's perfect and ready to be refrigerated.
6) Pour off the separated whey and cool in the refrigerator. It will set up a little more during storage. I like strained or Greek yogurt, so I put a piece of cheesecloth over the top of my jar and screw on the lid ring. Then I turn it upside-down in a glass measuring cup or a mug with a wide mouth and let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours until the yogurt's consistency is to my liking. I then replace the cheesecloth with a lid and store the yogurt in the refrigerator.
7) Use this yogurt for savory foods instead of sour cream and mayo. It makes excellent Middle Eastern or Indian cucumber yogurt. If you want to make a sweet version, sweeten the yogurt with fruit, fruit juice-sweetened jam, raw honey (not for babies), pure maple syrup, nuts, and granola. Since you can control the sourness when you make homemade yogurt, you don't need to add as much sweetener as you do with plain purchased yogurt. Enjoy!