How to Make Yogurt

Thick Homemade Yogurt

Nothing gets me more annoyed than the yogurt aisle at the grocery store.  I am a label reader and you can spend a lot of time at the yogurt section (and I have), sifting from one brand to the other, only to realize most of it just another variety of the same thing. Crap. Yes. crap I say.

Looking at a 125g single serving containers of your typical fruit yogurt, you will probably have 20 grams of sugar.  A yogurt of that serving size would probably have 8g of that sugar being lactose (1.5g - 4g lactose in a greek/balkan yogurt variety) so that leaves a remainder of 12 grams of sugar left.  1 tsp of sugar = 4 grams so that my friend is 3 TEASPOONS of sugar in that little single serve container you send to school for your kids.  Capiche?  You are better off buying a balkan/greek non-flavored yogurt and adding jam yourself.  I have a jam in my fridge right now that says 3 tsp is 4 grams of sugar, which is a far cry from 12 grams.  Plus, I wouldn't be adding 3 tsp of jam to that little amount of yogurt but we never bat an eye when packing those little containers into our lunchbags.

I also have a problem with all the lowfat yogurts.  I personally think it's important that children get enough fat in their diet and it is hard to find amongst the sea of 0% milk fat yogurts.  When you remove the fat, you need to fill it with something else and as I mentioned in the above paragraph, that is often sugar.  Also, when there is no fat, your yogurt is not very thick so that is when the yogurt ingredients get longer with things like gelatin, cornstarch, carageenan or guar gum or extra milk solids.  I sit there scratching my head wondering, is there any yogurt in here anymore?

One last thing I will gripe about and then I will get off my soapbox: Yogurt is expensive!  I buy a lot of it every week and I usually pay more because I buy the plain greek yogurts.  A 500mL tub usually costs me about $3.50-$4!  If you make your own yogurt, to yield 500mL you will need about 1 litre of milk.  I buy 4L jugs of milk for about $5 so that is about $1.25 of milk used.

Yogurt and Whey

Interested in making your own? The yogurt I made came out pretty thick and we were all really happy with the results. I used plain 2% greek yogurt as a starter so there was a slight tang. Make sure you find a starter with active bacteria cultures listed on the ingredients.  After you make your first batch, you can use it as the starter for your next batch.

I'm not swearing off buying grocery store yogurt but I will definitely be making more of my own yogurt since it is easy to do.


Homemade Greek Yogurt
yield 500mL tub

1L Homogenized (3.25% MF) milk
1/4 cup yogurt with active bacteria cultures (I used Oikos 2% plain greek yogurt for this batch)

Dutch oven/Crock pot with lid/insulated pot with lid

In a dutch oven/pot without the lid on, bring the milk almost to boil on the stove top .  I kept it around the 90 degrees celsius for 20-30 minutes so extra liquid can evaporate in hopes to make a thicker yogurt.

Remove from heat and allow to cool 45C.  Take out some of the milk and mix it with the 1/4 cup starter yogurt to dissolve.  Return back to the pot to innoculate the milk.

Place the lid on and put the dutch oven in a preheated oven at about 40-45 celsius for 4-8 hours.  The longer you allow it to ferment, the thicker it should get.  I placed a pizza stone at the bottom shelf of the oven to try to keep the oven warm.  Also, I wrapped my pot with tin foil and extra tea towels to try to insulate the yogurt from temperature swings.  Periodically, I would turn on the oven for 10 seconds to warm it up to 45 celsius, using my thermometer to check.  The above batch was fermented for 6 hours.

After the ferment, remove the pot from the oven and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

Presto!  Thick yogurt on the bottom and a layer of whey on top.  Put into a clean container to store in the fridge.  You can now eat!

The amount of whey layer on top depends on how consistent the temperature was held at. You can remove the whey by straining if you want thicker yogurt but I didn't bother.  Whey contains protein, so I just mixed it in with the yogurt layer.  You can now make your own fruit at the bottom yogurt or enjoy it as is.  Make sure to keep a portion of the yogurt for your starter in the next batch!