December 20, 2011

Thoughts About Home-Made Yogurt

Forgive me if I gush about my new hobby, but you know how it is. The  new toy gets all the praise.

It's less than 3 weeks since I began making my own yogurt, but by itself that should tell you there isn't a long learning curve. I've been asking myself why I waited so long to start making it, but the answer is that I could never tolerate it before. Since I started drinking water kefir, though, good things have happened and I now handle a dish of yogurt just fine every morning.

Let's Eat!
Because ancestral eating means eating whole foods without fear of animal fats including dairy, I don't make reduced-fat yogurt. In fact, I enhance my whole milk with heavy cream. Fats have been wrongly accused of causing heart disease when research now shows the opposite--low fat diets increase your chance of suffering heart disease. If you want to read more about that, here's a link to a relevant article. However, if you want to make reduced-fat yogurt then just buy reduced-fat milk.

Here are my first reactions to making yogurt:

  • I can't believe how easy it is!  
  • I love having control of how much/little fat is in the yogurt
  • I love having control of how much I make each time rather than having to buy containers that are too large/small
  • I love the flavor--the plain yogurt isn't sweet but it definitely tastes like a dairy product unlike the commercial ones that taste like sweeteners, thickeners and stabilizers
  • I love the texture. I'm already successfully producing a nice thick yogurt that mixes easily with fruit and is smooth on the tongue either plain or mixed
  • I like the fact that my  home-made has a full complement of live, active cultures and has no appreciable shelf life as I make it every 3 days

And that's just the beginning. In case you're curious, I'll detail a few facts:

  • I bought a yogurt maker. Living in a 5th wheel RV, temperatures are comfortable but quite variable. In winter, it gets cool overnight and in summer it's quite warm despite 2 air conditioners and a ceiling fan. I bought one that allows me to use my own container of preferred size. Many people are able to make yogurt without a yogurt maker, though, and advice is easy to find online.
  • I buy organic whole milk and heavy cream (the cream also goes in my coffee.) I purposely tried mixtures of different strengths--milk plus a little cream, half/half and mostly cream. My strong favorite is 1.5 cups of whole milk and 1/2 cup of cream. It sets up beautifully but still has a milky taste.
  • Few supplies are needed other than the yogurt maker. I use a stainless steel bowl for heating the milk/cream, a silicone spatula to stir, my full-purpose glass measuring cup, an instant-read thermometer and 2 2-cup ceramic mugs-with-handles that are nice for handling the warm liquid and yogurt. The only things I purchased for the yogurt project were the 2 2-cup mugs and a package of culture starter.
  • To make the yogurt, you heat the milk/cream to 185 degrees, then cool to 110. You then add the starter culture (I used the one I bought for the first batch only) or 1 tbsp live-culture yogurt per cup of liquid. I reserve 2 tbsp of yogurt from each batch to start the next.
  • My yogurt is ready in about 5 hours; I cool it briefly then cover and put it in the fridge. Right now I'm using about 2/3 cup per day.

New Batch

Sample for Next Batch
Instead of staring in bewilderment at the supermarket's yogurt display, looking in vain for full-fat yogurt without additives, I now open the fridge and take out my creamy fresh yogurt and all I have to do is decide which fruit sounds good today.

Resources: The most complete information I've found about making yogurt at home is at makeyourownyogurt and I recommend you check it out.


  1. Nance,
    Thanks for the yogurt tutorial. I have a maker but it usually does not have the texture I want, too runny and I like my yogurt like thick cream, not jello. What starter brand did you make your first batch with? I'll try your proportions and see how it goes.

  2. m, I purchased (via Amazon) Girmi R152 yogurt starter. As a single who wants fresh yogurt, I only used part of a packet to make the first 2-cup batch (in a 2-cup mug.) Since then, I've reserved roughly 2 tbsp of yogurt from each batch to start the next. Please note: Whey doesn't weep out of the yogurt until I remove (and eat) the buttery skin and take some yogurt from the dish. Thereafter, liquid whey accumulates and I either pour it off, stir it back in or use it for some other recipe. You can thicken yogurt by lining a strainer with cheesecloth, then putting the strainer in a bowl. Put the yogurt in the strainer, then let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. Much of the whey should seep through and you'll have thicker yogurt plus whey to use in cooking.

  3. Thanks, I'll report back in a few days. I like following your comments and advice at Paleohacks. I'm nearing the big 60 and live in AZ, been Paleo for a long while before I knew of it. vlc then zc then PHD.

  4. Cool, I'll look forward to hearing from you!

  5. Thanks for the mention of, and link to my homemade yogurt site. Nice blog, I shared it on G+.