How To Make Yogurt The Easy Way

Making yogurt on the homestead is a very common practice--a gallon a week is a safe bet. Here's how we do it the easy way. PLUS answers to common yogurt making questions and tips at the end of the article.

Yummy and thick every time.

We make a lot of yogurt at our house.  The kids love it for breakfast either with fruit, or when we make cold oats.  And, we can go through half a gallon or more each day.  (Yes, you read that correctly.)

It does take time though, and you have to pay attention to it.  Other than that, it’s really not that hard, as long as you use the correct ingredients.

You will need:

  • Large pot and heat source (oven or wood stove) and lid
  • Slow cooker (with an electrical source for a few minutes)
  • Yogurt starter/culture (has to say live active culture if you are buying it)
  • Glass measuring cup
  • Wood or plastic spoon
  • Candy thermometer
  • Sink and cold water
  • 2 large thick towels that can completely wrap up slow cooker

Have all surfaces cleaned before starting, and get your culture out so it can warm to room temperature.  Decide how much you want to make.  If you’ve never done it before, I would start with just a little.  I have made as little as 4 cups and as much as 12 cups with this particular process.

Measure out either 4, 8, or 12 cups of milk to put in your pan and begin heating it on low/medium or medium heat with the lid off.  I heat it really slow and have the best results.  You will want to stir often to keep any of it from sticking and burning to the bottom of the pan.

While this is heating, turn your slow cooker to the lowest setting to get warm.

Use your candy thermometer to tell you when your milk is 185 degrees (Fahrenheit).  At this point, put the lid on it and place the pot in your sink of cold water.  My pot is buoyant, so 1-2 inches of cold water works fine.  You’ll want to stir it often until it cools down to 90-110 degrees Fahrenheit (about 10 minutes).

While your milk is cooling, measure out your culture into your glass measuring cup.  I use a heaping wood spoonful for each 4 cups of milk.

Once your milk cools to 90-110 degrees, pour some into your measuring cup on top of your culture.  Carefully pour the rest into your slow cooker (turn it off), and put the lid on.

Stir your culture and milk in the glass cup until it is dissolved.  Once it is dissolved, add it into the slow cooker and stir it around.  Put the lid on and wrap it in towels.  I use two of the biggest towels on the market to wrap it completely.

At this point, you can place it in a sunny location (which is what I do), or put it in an oven (that is turned off) with the light on.  Leave it for 6-10 hours without touching, peaking, or stirring–forget it’s there.  These are the instructions passed down to me via verbal tradition in our family.

I actually tend to leave it longer.  It seems that I make it during afternoon naps (about 2:00-4:00 p.m.?) and leave it until morning (about 5:00 a.m.).  It’s still just fine.  In fact, it seems to me the longer I leave it to cool slowly, the firmer it is.  No one has ever gotten sick.

Granny also told me that this will last two weeks in the refrigerator.  She would make it twice a month.  It’s never lasted more than a day or two in our fridge.

When you go to use it, be sure to save enough to be your starter for next time.

There you go!  Will you try it?  Post a picture to our facebook page and let me know how you liked it!

Making yogurt on the homestead is a very common practice--a gallon a week is a safe bet. Here's how we do it the easy way. PLUS answers to common yogurt making questions and tips at the end of the article.

Random Yogurt Tips

  • Homemade yogurt is is not flavored.  Mix fruit, jelly or jam in if you don’t like it plain.  I haven’t tried sugar in it, but I know it’s hard to mix honey in cold yogurt.
  • If you want greek yogurt, wait until it’s ready and then use a coffee filter to let the whey seep out.  (Make sure to freeze your whey for later use, or give it to your chickens.)
  • You can freeze your yogurt starter.  You must let it thaw only in the refrigerator over-night–never heat it to thaw.
  • If you are buying your yogurt starter, buy any yogurt that is labeled “live active cultures” only.  Not all yogurt is the same.
  • If you regularly freeze your milk, you can still use it to make yogurt once it thaws.
  • I find this is best stored plain with a lid and mixed with fruit or jelly just before consumption.
  • If you don’t have a thermometer, “185 degrees” looks like:  when the milk starts to get bubbly and frothy.  Don’t let it boil over.
  • If you don’t have a thermometer, “90-110 degrees”  feels like:  when you stick your pinky in and it’s really hot but no longer painful (that’s about 100 degrees).   I don’t suggest anyone use this method.  We have and it’s painful. It will hurt, but I give you this information just so you have it, not to encourage you to use it.

I hope you’ll try it.  Even if you don’t have cows, this is a highly economical way to eat yogurt.

 

 

16 Comments

  1. I’ve been studying up on yogurt making lately, so this is very helpful! Thank you!

  2. Thank you for sharing with us how you make yoghurt. I have made it in the past but I need to do it again, this is a great way to do it. In the past I have bought pot set yoghurt and used that for my starter and that works too. I have never done it in the slow cooker but it sounds like it works well. I have a friend and she makes it by wrapping it in towels and puts it in a cane basket in her hallway. Thanks for sharing. Blessings

    • I am amazed at the amount of work people put into making yogurt! I’m just too lazy–I don’t think it would get done if I didn’t take the short cuts. Patience may not be one of my virtues…

  3. We’ve made yogurt for the first time two weeks ago! It sort of worked and then I tried again two nights ago and it came out separated and runny. I’m going to try your recipe. I only heated our milk to 120 so maybe that was our problem. Thanks so much for posting. I enjoy your blog and was tickled to find this crockpot recipe for yogurt.

    • I’m so glad you are enjoying yourself here, that really means a lot to me.
      It sounds like you technically made yogurt and if done with clean supplies, it is totally fine to eat. You only need to heat it to 110-120 degrees to make yogurt–really runny yogurt that would eventually set up if left undisturbed. However, 🙂 heating the milk to 185 degrees loosens/prepares the proteins and milk sugars to be processed by the culture faster/more easily. This will result in thicker yogurt.
      I have other farming friends who swear you have to keep it at 185 degrees (Fahrenheit) for half an hour before cooling it. I’ve never done that. Honestly, I’d be worried I’d burn the proteins and ruin everything if I even tried. I’ve not had it not work yet…
      Let me know how it works, or send me a picture in all your glory when you’re done? 🙂

  4. I used to make yogurt a lot with a yogurt maker. Then I decided that was too much work. I’ve tried various crockpot recipes but my crockpot runs too hot on warm. I think I’ll try this with oodles of towels. I always prefer to put the cultured milk into containers first and then put the containers into the crock with warm water all around them for insulation. That way I don’t have to scoop out the yogurt into another container. Oh, and in case you’re interested, there are also mesophilic yogurt cultures available that are cultured at room temp on the counter! How awesome is that? No fuss, just yogurt. The only downside is that they’re not as thick as incubated yogurt like this, but the work trade-off is fantastic. A couple of those strains that I’ve tried are Matsoni (liked it) and Filmjolk (we use this in smoothies, it has a slightly cheesy taste). I got my mesophilic cultures from Cultures for Health. Off to try your towels in the sun method!

    • Wow! What great information for other readers, thank you for that. I guess I’m a bit behind the times, as I didn’t even know there were “yogurt makers” 🙂 . We don’t get to town much, but if you could buy cultures available at room temp, then you wouldn’t have to worry about freezing your main culture each time, would you? I am curious, it is a powder?

  5. I am going to try your method. Thank you for sharing it. Our yogurt hasn’t been a hit over here. Too runny… Thank you for the extra tips and for sharing this! 🙂

  6. This looks so incredible! Loving it! Pinned and tweeted.
    Lou Lou Girls

  7. Just made this last night, used my fresh goat milk and it turned out great! Thanks

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