Monday, January 16, 2012

Homemade Yogurt Without a Yogurt Maker

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My mom had a yogurt maker and would frequently make yogurt for us growing up.  I remember friends coming over and being excited for my mom's homemade yogurt.  We just added a little bit of sugar and vanilla for flavoring, it didn't sound as exciting as the flavors at the store but the taste was so much better.

A few years ago I wanted to make yogurt but I didn't have a yogurt maker.  I really didn't want to spend money on a kitchen gadget that would only do one thing and take up lots of space in my kitchen.  Luckily I had a copy of The Tightwad Gazette where Amy Dacyczyn had done her own experiment to see the best way to make homemade yogurt.  She offered the multiple suggestions on incubating the yogurt.  Taking her suggestion and using not a yogurt maker, but a heating pad has given me great results.

A few words about getting thick yogurt.  High fat content, high content of milk solids, and longer incubation times will lead to a thicker yogurt.  I have added some cream to my milk when making yogurt before and while it was tasty it was too rich to eat for breakfast so I now make mine with whole milk.  If you are watching your weight feel free to use low fat or nonfat milk.  It will be a little thinner but still good.  To get a higher concentration of milk solids Dacyczyn suggests adding a half cup of powdered milk.  It is not necessary to use but it will make the yogurt thicker.  Last of all, longer incubation times will make a thicker yogurt but it will also make a more tart yogurt.  Pick your poison.  I normally like to make it before I go to bed at night and check it after 8 or 9 hours.  That is normally long enough but sometimes I let it go a few hours longer.

You will also need a starter for the yogurt.  Any brand plain yogurt will do as long as it has live active cultures.  So a whole container of yogurt doesn't go to waste you can freeze the yogurt starter  I normally freeze it in 2 tablespoon increments so I just have to defrost one at a time.
This is my incubation set up.
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Homemade Yogurt

3 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup milk powder
2 tablespoons plain yogurt

Heat the milk in a saucepan until it reaches 180 degrees (this is necessary to kill any bacteria that might compete with the yogurt starter).  Let the milk cool to 115.  If you are in a hurry you can place the saucepan in a larger pan of ice water.   When the milk has cooled put your starter yogurt in a small bowl and ladle in a small amount of warm milk just to slowly heat the yogurt.  Whisk yogurt milk mixture together and return to the pan with the rest of the milk.  Mix and pour into a quart size canning jar.

Put the lid on and place on a towel covered heating pad.  Wrap the yogurt jar with a kitchen towel and cover the whole thing with a stock pot for insulation.  Turn the heating pad on (low or medium normally work for me), and let sit for 8-10 hours.  Refrigerate.


  1. I remember going to your house and your mom making yogurt and I was amazed by it. Also I am totally blog retarded how did you get the pictures next to your posts along the right side of your blog, the pin it button and the print recipe thing?!?!? I really want to try the lemon curd recipe and I might attempt to make my own yogurt...

    1. Popular posts is a blogger gadget option. You can find instructions for the Pin it button here I use for the printable recipes. It prints the entire post though so it also includes my rambling along with the recipe. I haven't been able to find anything that works better.

  2. I'm not a person to leave comments, but I came across your recipe on tasty kitchens and thought I would try it out. I love yogurt but after my husband and I moved to a different state we couldn't find a brand we liked that actually tasted good and didn't cost a fortune. I was amazed at how easy this really was and absolutely loved how much better and cheaper homemade yogurt is. Thank you so much for the recipe and for your hints and tips on making it. You have made a yogurt maker out of me. :D

  3. Actually, there are different ways you can make yogurt without using a yogurt maker. You can use a thermos, an oven, a slow-cooker, or a heating pad. You can try the oven method, if you wish. Just pour the milk into the casserole and add 3 tbsps. of plain yogurt. Stir and cover the casserole. Place it in a warm oven with the heat set at 100 degree Fahrenheit. Just let it sit there overnight. Easy right? ->Fresh & Healthy Brands


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