There’s no need to buy yogurt from the grocery store if you don’t want to. This is something you can make at home. By making it at home, you have more control over the ingredients you use and the sugars that are added. You get something that is perfect for your dietary needs.
Don’t jump straight into making your homemade yogurt. It’s important to understand all the pros and cons of making your own and the steps to take to create something delicious and healthy for you.
This all-in-one guide will cover everything, including the health benefits, the downsides and the tubs you’ll need to get the best-tasting yogurt ever. It’s time to put your health and lifestyle choices first.
The Basic Step-by-Step Process
Let’s start with the basic process of making your yogurt. This will give you an idea of what you need and how to start with the basics. You’ll get an idea of whether this is something for you.
You’ll Need Milk, but Can Choose Whichever Type You Want
Milk is a necessary part of making yogurt. While many people will instantly think of cow’s milk that they can get from the store, there are many other options. You can make yogurt with absolutely any type of milk, whether you want a vegan lifestyle, are allergic to lactose or don’t mind drinking whole cow’s milk.
What you want to do is look for raw milk as much as possible, especially when using cow’s milk. This is the best for the yogurt making process but is going to be the hardest type to get. If you can’t get raw milk, opt for goat’s milk over cow’s milk. Goat’s milk is thicker and creamier. However, it can be over pasteurized, which can cause problems for the yogurt creation.
It’s also possible to use almond, coconut, and even soy milk. These aren’t as effective as cow’s or goat’s milk but are still beneficial for your health and lifestyle options.
The milk needs to be heated. You’ll need a thermometer for this because it’s all about heating to a specific temperature and not heating it for a certain amount of time. Heat to 180F and then you can take it from the heat and cool it to 115F in a glass.
You can still make yogurt if the temperature drops below 115, but this is the optimum temperature. From there, you can move onto the next step.
Adding to The Culture
Yogurt is made with culture. This is where you get the probiotics from to help support the health of your gut.
If you already have a batch of homemade yogurt, reserve the last 2tbsp for making the next batch. You’ll get the culture from this. If you don’t, then you’ll need to get a small tub of pre-made yogurt. Opt for Greek yogurt, as this is natural and creamier than the other types. Avoid anything with a fruit flavor. Not only do the flavors disrupt the cultures and the making of your natural yogurt, but they will also add extra sugars that you don’t need!
Stir in the culture and then move onto the third step.
You’ll Need to Incubate Your Yogurt
The final step is all about the incubation process. This needs to happen with the lid on the jar, and you’ll need to keep the temperature consistent. Place your yogurt in the oven to help create the perfect environment for the final steps.
You want to keep the temperature of the yogurt at around 115F, although dropping to 100F isn’t too bad. You can do this using the light in the oven and then turn the oven on and off now and then as you need to.
This process takes 10-12 hours to complete fully, so you’ll likely want to do this overnight. However, there are some recommendations that say to incubate for 24 hours, due to the lactose in the milk. If you’re using lactose-free milk then you won’t have to worry about the bacteria that can develop.
Once you’ve finished with the incubation process, you can then put it in the fridge. It’s ready to enjoy and will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
An Optional Step of Straining The Yogurt
Creating homemade yogurt will always lead to some of the whey separation. This is completely natural, and you can strain the yogurt to make more whey. The whey is the by-product of the lactose in the milk. If you’ve used lactose-free milk, you won’t get the whey.
The more you strain, the more whey you get. Thicker yogurts have more whey in them, and you can create the Greek yogurt consistency if you strain to the full capacity.
Why You Want Whey in Your Yogurt
Straining your lactose-based yogurt is important for the extra whey. This is a protein-filled element of the yogurt and perfect for your health. It’s included in the majority of protein powders because it is so efficient.
The great thing is whey can be used in a variety of ways around your home. You don’t need to mix it in with your yogurt.
It’s an excellent addition to your fruit smoothies. Many people will add some protein powder to their smoothies after a workout, but you can go the natural route. You add the whey from the yogurt and create the perfect muscle-building and recovery smoothie. This is also good if you struggle to get enough protein in your diet, such as if you follow a vegetarian lifestyle.
You can also add the whey to your baking or your broths and soups. The whey replaces some of the water, creating a thicker and creamier mixture, making your bread, pastries, and broths extra rich.
This is also something you can add to your vegetable garden! The whey will help to keep the soil’s pH level slightly lower, creating a more acidic nature. Some fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes, gain from acidic soil.
It’s possible to freeze the whey for up to six months. If you don’t know what to use it for right now, keep hold of it for the future.
Why Make Your Yogurt?
Now you know the step-by-step process to make your yogurt, it’s time to find out the reasons to do it. There is one main reason you want to make your own yogurts, with the smaller reasons just adding up the tally.
It’s the Healthiest Option for You
When you want to put your health first, you’ll need to make your yogurt. While you can get Greek yogurt and Natural yogurts in the store, they’re not completely natural. Look at the ingredients, and you’ll see that many opt for adding sugars to their mixtures. This is especially the case for the branded products and those that are sweetened with fruity flavors.
Making your means, you know exactly which ingredients have been used. You’ll know the extra sugars that you’ve added in and all individual ingredients. You have more control over the number of ingredients you put in, the type of milk you use, and more.
If you follow a lactose-free diet, there are ways to make yogurt at home to suit that. When you follow a vegan diet, there are options. If you prefer to skip cow’s milk for your own moral or health choices, you can use other types of milks as the base.
It’s a Cheaper Way to Make Yogurt
Buying yogurt from the store can be expensive. This is especially the case if you want the healthiest yogurts on the market or you’re looking for vegan-friendly options. You don’t always have the budget, so something has to be sacrificed.
Well, instead of getting the expensive options in the store, you can make your own. The batches will last longer than most of the options in the store, and you can freeze the whey and some of the cultures to make for future batches.
There’s no need to sacrifice budget or health.
It Will Taste Better
Quite honestly, the products you make yourself will taste better. Okay, it can take some time to get used to the creations, but eventually, you’ll get to the point where you make something that tastes miles better than the options in the store.
You get the control over the ingredients. If you don’t like the taste of certain milk, that’s not a problem. If you find something hasn’t worked properly, you have more chance to experience and test again with a future batch.
Plus the yogurt works out creamier and thicker. You can strain more to get more whey, helping to get a deliciously thick yogurt that you can usually only get if you spend a fortune.
And you get all this fresh. You can have the yogurt as soon as it’s made. Do you have no idea how long it’s been on the van to the store, right? There’s no need to worry if it’s close to going off.
What Are the Downsides?
So, with all those benefits, what could be the downside of making your yogurt? Well, the biggest one is the trial and error process. It can take some time to figure out the right temperatures and the right materials to use. You may not get delicious yogurt right away.
Then there’s the time. You’ll need to incubate your yogurt for at least 10 hours—in some cases, up to 24 hours. Do you want to wait that long when you can get something from the store? Well, once you start making it, you can get into a cycle of batches so you’ll never have to wait too long for your invention.
If you’re worried about having time, you can always make a slow cooker version. Yes, there are no excuses anymore. Here’s the recipe, and all you’ll need is a slow cooker and instant-read thermometer.
Easy Peasy Slow Cooker Greek Yogurt
- 1 gallon of milk
- 1 cup of plain yogurt at room temperature (make sure there are live cultures)
- Set the slow cooker to high, pour in the milk and close the lid; cook for 2-3 hours, until the milk gets to 180F
- Turn off the slow cooker, keep the lid closed and leave until the milk cools to 110-115F (usually takes 2-3 hours)
- Add some of the milk to the plain yogurt and combine
- Pour into the slow cooker milk, combining slowly with up-down, left-right motions (not circular ones)
- Wrap the slow cooker with a large bath towel and leave to sit for 10-12 hours at room temperature
- Line a colander with a cheesecloth and place over a large glass bowl
- Pour the yogurt into the colander and allow to strain at room temperature (repeat as necessary for the thickness you want)
Store the yogurt in the fridge in an airtight container, and it will last for up to two weeks. You’ll get 8 cups of whey and 7-8 cups of Greek yogurt if you strain for 4 hours.
Reserve some of your yogurts for the next time that you make some. You’ll have the live cultures in it, which means you never have to buy store-bought yogurt again.
Storing Your Homemade Yogurt
You’ll need to store in an airtight container, but you should look for glass as much as possible. While plastic is cheaper and does offer benefits, you can end up with some of the plastic elements mixing with the yogurt. This can lead to a strange taste, especially towards the end of the batch. Glass doesn’t mix anything, leaving your yogurt pure.
Store the whey however you want. This can be stored in tubs, but you can also put it in freezer bags in the freezer. Store in separate portions depending on how you’d like to use it.
Once you start using homemade yogurt, you’ll never turn back. It’s healthier, cheaper and tastier; well worth the time that it takes!