Making yogurt at home-any hints?

ratherbesewingMay 14, 2014

My DH and sons enjoy yogurt. Instead of purchasing flavored (artificial) yogurt, I have convinced them to use plain yogurt and add fruit, granola etc. Now I would like to make my own yogurt. I have seen online stovetop recipes and wondered if any of you have successfully tried this method?

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1. If you haven't checked out the information found at Cultures For Health, that is a great place (link below).

2. Check your local library for some "yogurt" books. A good book on the subject will give you all kinds of recipes, hints, tips, and should have a chart for troubleshooting, so you know what went wrong.

I'm not sure what you mean by "stove-top" method, but you do need to heat the liquid, and you can do that on a stove or in the microwave to 190-210-degrees F. That's the first stage. Second stage is cooling the mixture (place it in a container in a cold water bath in your sink (add some ice or blue-ice blocks to chill it quickly) and adding the starter/culture. The third stage is incubating. Temperatures over 120-degrees F will kill the bacteria. A temperature cooler than 105-degrees F and it won't ferment, or will take much longer.

3. I prefer plain Stonyfield Farm yogurt for a starter (aka culture) because it has six live cultures (bacteria), where most other brands of yogurt only have two live cultures (bacteria).

You can freeze the Stonyfield Farm yogurt (or any brand for that matter) in 1-2 T. amounts in an ice cube tray, pop them out when completely frozen and store in the freezer. When you need a new culture, defrost the amount you need in the refrigerator and then bring it to room temperature before adding to the liquid mixture. You can use a portion of yogurt from a previous batch as a starter, but eventually you will need a new culture when you notice your yogurt isn't getting as thick, or taking much longer to develop the curd.

4. Get a good instant-read thermometer or a yogurt thermometer. A yogurt thermometer (mine is a Yogourmet and came with my Yogourmet Yogurt Maker) will have the temperature window for when to add the culture highlighted so it's easy to read. If you add the culture at the cooler end of the "temperature window" (110-120-degrees F / 43-48-degrees C) the yogurt will be more mild - the warmer it is, the more tart it will be.

5. Whichever method you choose to use (I prefer an electric yogurt maker, but I've used any number of other methods), once you have everything ready to ferment, DON'T move/knock/disturb the yogurt while it is fermenting because it will break the curd and you might end up with less-than-perfect yogurt.

6. Don't stir your yogurt once it's done fermenting or it will turn to liquid yogurt. If you do stir it and it turns to liquid, it will remain liquid (use in a smoothie ;-).

7. Once it's done fermenting, it will thicken even more as it cools in the refrigerator.

8. Draining Yogurt: You can use any number of gadgets to drain your yogurt, and yogurt strainers/yogurt cheese makers (they go by various names) are available. Among the things I use is a permanent coffee filter, which fits nicely in my 2-cup Pyrex measuring to catch the whey. I found it on a clearance table for $3 and have used it for draining yogurt (or kefir curd) for many yeas. You can line a colander with clean muslin, several layers of cheese cloth, etc. As the whey drains out of the curd, the curd gets thicker.

Don't throw the liquid (whey) away, that's where the highest amount of protein is. I use whey in many things, such as lacto-fermentation - and you'll find many uses for it by doing a search on-line. Now that it's getting hot and we are working outdoors more, I add it to lemonade. It's a great thirst quencher full of nutrients and probiotics. Add it to a smoothie.....

The greatest portion of whey drains off in the first hour. If you let yogurt drain for only 5-10 minutes, you will remove a surprising amount of whey. A cup of yogurt gives up approx. 25% of its volume in 5-minutes; a pint 18% of it's volume, and a quart only 12% (source: "The Yogurt Gourmet" by Anne Lanigan).

Also from "The Yogurt Gourmet":
-Drained Yogurt - drained for about 10-minutes.
-Thick Yogurt - drained at least 30-minutes (thick but still soft, will not retain its shape on a flat surface). One hour's draining is "ideal".
-Yogurt Cheese - drained for 8-hours or longer. Consistency of cream cheese, will hold its shape and retain the mark of a finger indentation.
-Yogurt Cream - heavy cream made into yogurt.
Note: One quart of yogurt will yield approximately 1-1/3 c. of yogurt cheese (about 2 c. of whey is drained off).


Here is a link that might be useful: Cultures For Health

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 4:22PM
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Thank you grain lady. I knew someone out there in cyber space would have experience. Thanks for the Stoneyfield starter suggestions. and, when I say "stovetop", I don't own a yogurt maker...yet. All the recipes I have read are for the stovetop plus a thermometer. I will print out all your suggestions and give it a try.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 7:42PM
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I eat yogurt every day and I love FAGE yogurt, but I really don't like the price, so I did a lot of research and started making my own. There are lots of methods out there, but the bottom line is that it's pretty easy to make and you don't need to buy any special equipment, with the exception of maybe a decent strainer (cheese cloth sucks) if you are planning on making Greek yogurt. I use the microwave to heat it up and then let it rest in my gas stove overnight, wrapped in a towel, where the pilot light helps keep it warm.

I thought that this site had the most comprehensive information. It will take you a bit of experimentation to find the technique that works for you, but I have to say that I had success my first time out (it's really that easy) and then just tweaked the method.

Here is a link that might be useful: Greek Yogurt

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 8:30PM
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I've been making my own yogurt for years, I use my dehydrator to keep it warm, but I started with a camping cooler and hot water, wrapped the cooler in a towel.

I usually use Dannon as a starter, only because it's readily available here, or the Fage greek yogurt. I even had to use vanilla flavored yogurt once, but since I use the last of my batch to start the next batch, it lost the vanilla flavor quickly.

Like karateken, I had successful results the first time and don't remember a failure at all. I do know that with each batch the yogurt becomes more sour and eventually it doesn't get as thick as I like, so then I buy more yogurt and start with fresh.

I use the instructions on this link, and they describe how to use a cooler with hot water and a cooler with a heating pad, as well as the dehydrator method and the use of a yogurt maker.

Have fun!


Here is a link that might be useful: Fias County Farms

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 11:31PM
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I will definetly try one of these recipes this weekend. What do you add to your yogurt for flavor (besides fruit) ?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 5:51AM
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This was a summertime favorite when the kids were young.

Jell-O/Yogurt: Mix 1 small box of Jell-O (any flavor - lemon Jell-O tastes like lemon pie) with 1 c. hot water - stir until melted. Add 1 cup of plain or vanilla yogurt. Mix thoroughly. Chill before serving. Makes 4-servings. (Note: you can add any kind of fruit, if you'd like.)

Cucumber Yogurt (can be used as a dip or spread)   
1 c. yogurt (drain 30\-60 minutes if you'd like it thicker)   
3 T. grated cucumber (pat between paper towels to dry)   
1/8 t. dill weed   
dash of garlic salt   

Mix yogurt and peanut butter. Use as a dip with celery.

Mix yogurt and applesauce, add a drizzle of honey, top with cinnamon. Use as a dip with apple slices.   

Dollop of Nutella and chopped hazelnuts. (Just say yes! ;\-)   

I flavor and sweeten plain yogurt with flavored Stevia drops   
(NOW and Sweet Leaf brands) \- (NOW Better Stevia) Lemon Twist is a favorite, we also like coconut and pomegranate/blueberry.   

My sister mixes a small amount of instant coffee, hot water and sweetener-of-choice, and mixes it in her plain yogurt.

A drizzle of Lyle's Golden Syrup and topped with almond slices or granola. 

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 7:51AM
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I mix mine with granola and add a drizzle of honey, or I stir in my homemade jam or fresh fruit and a bit of sweetener.

I like yogurt, mustard and honey as a salad dressing and my daughter likes to freeze fruit, then add the frozen fruit, some yogurt and sweetener and make smoothies for the kids for breakfast.

I don't like to just eat yogurt, I tend to use it more in baking, in salad dressing or as a topping or dip.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 10:15AM
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Grainlady - Nutella. *thud* ;)

I keep mine pretty simple. I add in jam or honey. Dark brown sugar is delicious.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 10:42AM
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About every two weeks I make a batch of yogurt with a gallon of whole milk and a small (usually Fage) plain yogurt.

Gently simmer one gallon of milk in a large, stainless steel pot for 30 minutes. Occasionally pull the skin away from the edges and be careful not to let it boil over. Let it cool a bit. Remove and discard the skin. While the milk is cooling put a small container of plain yogurt (single serving size) into a large bowl and whisk it. When the milk is still warm but not hot, pour it into the yogurt and whisk. Ladle the mixture through a fine strainer into clean containers. I use two fine strainers together. Also, be careful not to touch the inside of the containers or the bowl of the ladle, etc., so as not to introduce unwanted bacteria.

While doing that, heat the oven to 170 degrees with a half sheet on each of two racks. Turn the oven off. Never reheat the oven with yogurt inside! Remove the top half sheet first, load it with yogurt pots and return it to the top rack of the oven so that anything that might be on the rack will not fall into the yogurt. Then load the lower half sheet. Leave the yogurt in the oven for about 8-10 hours or overnight. Remove the yogurt from the oven (bottom first, then top), cover with lids and refrigerate.

I use several one pint containers with lids and a few individual containers with lids. I usually start simmering the milk around five p.m., get the yogurt into the oven by nine, and leave it overnight.

I’ve made yogurt with 1%, 2% and whole milk. I’ve also made it with whole milk plus a cup of heavy cream. I’m sure skim would work, but I haven’t made it with skim milk. My favorite is whole milk�"without the heavy cream. To drain the water from the yogurt (Greek yogurt style), put it into a strainer over a bowl (no need for cheesecloth), cover tightly with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. It will be almost like soft cream cheese.

When a spoonful of yogurt is taken out of the pint containers and the pot is put back into the fridge, water will start to drain from the yogurt and then it is extra good.

The yogurt keeps in the fridge for about a month. If you make yogurt, do a taste test with store bought yogurt. Homemade is way better.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 10:56PM
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