Never Going Back: Homemade Yogurt

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One thing that is consumed A LOT in our house is yogurt.

We can have yogurt just about any time of day….

For breakfast I’ll often serve it with fresh fruit and wheat toast for the girls/raw oats for me (don’t knock it ’till you try it. It actually tastes really good, and way healthier than super sugar-fied granola!)

I’ll sometimes serve it as an accompaniment to lunch. Particularly on days that the girls are in preschool I like to send yogurt since its a good source of protein. The girls’ preschool is meat-free, so I sometimes struggle with protein-based options (peanut butter gets OLD after awhile). Yogurt as a side is always a good option.

And yogurt is just about everyone’s favorite snack.

MMMmmmmmmm yogurt!

Until this point I generally spent a good $5-6 on yogurt per week. Maybe more (okay, probably more).

But no more, my friends!

I have discovered how incredibly EASY and DELICIOUS homemade yogurt can be! Who knew?!?

I used this recipe and followed it to a T, so I won’t rehash all the recipe deets, but I wanted to give some commentary on my experience making my own homemade yogurt for the first time.

The Basics

Okay, so read the recipe, but to give you the gist, you’re going to pour a gallon of milk into a crockpot, heat it up in your crockpot for nearly four hours, then cool down to a specific temperature (which can take another hour), add a yogurt “starter” (you need the live yogurt cultures…this could be store-bought or leftovers from your last homemade batch), then let it sit for up to 12 hours.

Whew! That’s a lot of time!

My Thoughts.

First, you’re going to have to plan ahead to make your own yogurt. I tried for 3 consecutive days to do it, but time got away from me and I ended up having to put it off until the next day (because making it in a crockpot takes HOURS to do). Sure, there are faster ways (like stove-top), but I liked the leave-it-and-forget-it method of the crockpot and I didn’t have a timeline for when I needed the yogurt, so I just pushed it back a couple days until the timing worked out. But just a heads up that it DOES take some pre-planning.

Second, Stephanie mentioned how the “tang” in homemade yogurt might surprise you. I’ve had plain yogurt before, so I wasn’t at all surprised. If anything, I thought my yogurt was less tangy than what I’d expected. As she mentioned, the longer it sits the tangier it gets. I’d left mine for about 10.5 hours, so it would have been tangier if I’d left it longer.

The Taste.

In my opinion (and the reason I’m Never Going Back <<the title of this post), the taste of homemade yogurt is WAY superior to store-bought! OMG, it tasted so decadent and delicious! I could close my eyes and almost have an out-of-body experience, pretending to be in some super swanky brunch spot enjoying a freshly prepared yogurt parfait. Dramatic? Yes. True? Yes!

Plus homemade yogurt costs PENNIES per portion, compared to store-bought yogurt that often costs up to $1+ per portion!

Storage.

You should note that homemade yogurt doesn’t last as long as store-bought yogurt. This makes sense since there are no preservatives (or other icky stuff for that matter). According to google, it can last for up to 2 weeks in your fridge, and 3 months in your freezer. Not too shabby if you consume as much yogurt as we do. Bonus – the frozen homemade yogurt can be thawed OR eaten frozen (duh! Like frozen yogurt!)

I store my yogurt in glass mason jars that I keep in the fridge. If you’re going to freeze it, however, you may want to put it in a plastic container (sure, glass freezes, but I’ve had more than my fair share of “oopsies” after accidentally breaking a frozen glass container)

Fruit Options.

There are a ton of ways to eat yogurt. I’ve used plain yogurt before as a substitute for sour cream in various baking recipes (healthier and cheaper). I also enjoy plain yogurt, but most people probably prefer to add in a little fruit.

I made a strawberry-banana yogurt that was TO DIE FOR (ahem, if I do say so myself *brushes shoulders off*)

All I did was take a very ripe banana and some strawberries and put in a large container. I used a potato smasher to “muddle” the berries and basically worked everything into a pulp. Then I stirred in the yogurt and mixed everything well. It’s important to note that once fruit is muddled like this, it immediately starts to break down (meaning:  decompose). So you cannot do this if you plan on putting it in your fridge for 2 weeks. But, its perfectly fine for a few hours. In fact, allowing the flavors to meld for a few hours is what makes it really taste like HEAVEN! I did this in the morning and then served it as an afternoon snack and it was the perfect amount of time.

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Fruit in the bowl before muddling

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All together now!

You could do this with any of your favorite fruit combinations, or you can always just serve the plain yogurt with whole or sliced fruit, too.

I honestly can’t decide what’s best:  the money I’ll be saving making homemade yogurt from now on, or how good I feel about healthify-ing one of our favorite foods!

Most people already think of yogurt as a pretty healthy food (it can be, though lots of the stuff sold in stores is loaded with sugars and additives), but it really doesn’t get any healthier than making it yourself! I used rBST-free 2% milk when I made mine (you can use any type you like), which I thought was perfect! I’d imagine that whole milk would provide an even richer taste, while skim milk will obviously save you some calories. Since my kiddos are some of the biggest consumers of yogurt, I like to buy 1% or 2% so they can get some of the healthy fats from the milk (and/or yogurt), but you can use whatever you prefer.

Let me know if you try your hand at making homemade yogurt and what you think!

Do you make any “fun” foods homemade? I’ve toyed around with the idea of doing homemade cheese but I’ve been scared of dealing with the rennet. I’ve also thought of doing homemade pasta one day, but it also seems so prep-intensive that I’ve been scared off for now. Maybe one day. : )

 

Ashley

Ashley

Texan at heart; Arizonan on paper. Lover of running, cheese, camping, and family (fur-family included!). Blogger, motivated to get out of debt YESTERDAY! Follow along with my journey!
Ashley

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21 Comments

  • Reply amy |

    I make home made yogurt too! I have tried the crockpot method and actually find it less make it and forget than my method. I heat the milk in a double boiler ( ahem…two mismatched pots I stack together) and heat to 180 degrees. While heating I fill the kitchen sink part way with ice water. When heated I place the top pan in the ice water and cool to 110 degrees. then I temper in my starter. Then I pour into jars and close. I then take the boiling water from the double boiler and add some of the ice water until that water is roughly 110 degrees. I put the jars in the water, not completely submerging. put a lid on the pot. Then I slide the whole thing in the oven and turn on the oven light. I do it right before bed, and when I get up in the morning I have yogurt that is almost as thick as greek yogurt without straining. The whole thing takes me only twenty minutes or so of babysitting.

  • Reply Jackie |

    I’ve always wanted to try this just never found the time. I eat greek yogurt daily and love it. I love regular yogurt too. Will definitely have to try making my own. I make homemade pizza dough, biscuits, and any baking items.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Soooo much easier than homemade bread products (and I make those homemade, too, so speaking from experience)!

  • Reply Katie |

    I’ve been doing it this way for a few years. It’s great. We strain ours to have a more greek yogurt consistency, and then I use the whey when I bake bread instead of water. Baking our own bread is another one of my homemade money savers. I buy the flour and yeast from Costco. It’s really cheap.

    One thing to note. You have to keep the yogurt warm while the cultures grow. I put the crockpot in our oven with the door closed and turn the oven light on. I keep it in overnight and then it’s ready to go the next morning.

    • Reply Ashley |

      That’s a great idea to use the whey for baking bread!!! I prefer Greek yogurt, but I didn’t strain mine this time since I didn’t have a cheesecloth on hand. They’re cheap though, so I’ll have to pick one up and give it a try for next time!

      • Reply Marzey doats |

        I use a clean white dishtowel instead of cheesecloth. Find a loose weave one. Much more durable than cheese cloth, so you can throw it in the dishwasher when you are done and use it over and over.

      • Reply Katie |

        I use a clean handkerchief. No need to go out and buy anything new if you have that or a dishtowel around.

        • Reply Ashley |

          huh, does that work? Never even thought of that! Its not nearly as porous as a cheesecloth, but if it works then I’m all for giving it a try!

          • Sue |

            Cheesecloth, at least the stuff you get at the grocery store is way too porous for straining yogurt, it all leaks through. I use a kitchen towel like marzey doats. Just make sure it is not terrycloth! ; >

            I use the whey in biscuits, cornbread and pancakes as a substitute for buttermilk/sour milk, and for soaking grains.

          • Ashley |

            Oh, that’s a good point about cheesecloth probably being too pours! Here’s a question – how long does the whey last for (in an air-tight container in fridge)? Do I need to use it basically the same day, or would it hold for a few days?? Just curious.

  • Reply Rachel |

    Thank you, this is awesome! I’ve seen yogurt recipes before that seemed harder, but this looks like a breeze. Woohoo!

  • Reply AY |

    Thanks for sharing!! I hate how much we spend on yogurt each week and how expensive the ones without sugar and flavoring are! Will definitely be trying this ASAP. I love plain whole milk yogurt and love putting it in smoothies, recipes etc. thanks!!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Yes! Adding yogurt to smoothies gives such a lovely, creamy consistency! Definitely try this out! I, too, (used to) buy the higher-shelf yogurts without flavorings and additives and they were easily $1.25/each (or more)! I’d save a little by buying the big tubs, but it’s still about a buck per serving.

  • Reply Deby |

    I’ve been making yogurt for a few years now, ever since there was a class on it at the local county ag extension office. I culture mine in a small (lunch pail size) cooler: After hearing the milk etc, I pour the yogurt into a couple of mason jars and put them in the cooler filled with warm water, then let it sit for 6-7 hours. The water surrounds the jars and keeps the temperature constant while the cultures are incubating.
    I take mine to work in smaller (half-pint) jars, and add some home homemade jam and granola, and fresh or frozen fruit. Makes for a great mid morning snack.
    I also make my own bread, taco seasoning, tomato sauce, applesauce, jam and as much else as I can from scratch. I’ve even made my own pasta, which is fun and tasty.

    • Reply Ashley |

      I’ve wanted to make my own pasta but it seems so tricky! Lots of steps and specialized pieces of equipment!

      • Reply Jean |

        Start with egg noodles – they’re SO easy. You just need a place to spread them out so they can dry, unless you want to use them right away. The dough is basically flour & egg. You can use a rolling pin to roll out the dough and then use a knife to cut it into noodles. Then spread the noodles out on some newspaper and let them dry. I haven’t made them in years but my grandmother ALWAYS made them – SO good! It’s one of my favorite memories of holiday dinners.

        If you decide you like making your own noodles & want to branch out into other types of pasta, you can probably look for the specialty equipment at garage sales or thrift stores.

  • Reply Janet |

    There is an even easier way to make yoghurt.. I use a store bought yoghurt maker that is essential a big thermos flask. Into that goes boiling water from the kettle. There is an inner tub into which you put a heaped dessert spoon of starter yoghurt (your own or store bought) and almost a litre of UHT milk. Shake it up, pop in the thermos with the boiling water and leave for 8 hrs. Done!

  • Reply hannah |

    ok so I meant to get to this at some point, because we only eat greek yogurt, plain with fat, or chobani for snacking – and it’s expensive!

    I will have to do some checking into this, because this recipe looks way easier than I thought it would be! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Sue |

    Well, I couldn’t seem to reply to your question about how long the whey lasts, there was no reply button on your reply to me! Anyway, I keep it for a long time say two weeks or so, sometimes longer. You can also use it in soup to replace some of the water or stock. I have even used it as a starter for more yogurt, it seems to have enough of the bacteria to work.

    I make my yogurt using the same method that Deby does with the cooler. I used to do the Tightwad Gazette method with a heating pad, but the cooler works just as well and uses less energy.

    I

So, what do you think ?

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