Making Yogurt is Easy!

The thought of making my own yogurt had never crossed my mind until I stumbled across this NPR article several months ago.  Huh, all I need is live yogurt cultures (from store bought yogurt), milk, and kitchen tools/appliances that I already owned.  I am all about home cooking and knowing what goes into your food, so I decided to give it a try.  


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase through these links.  There is no cost to you. See my Disclosure Policy for more information. 


making yogurt

My quick feedback: pros are it is easy and inexpensive.  Con it takes time, but most of the time is hands-off time!

Supplies and ingredients
  • yogurt (I use 4-6 ounces per gallon of milk; my choice for a starter is Dannon All Natural Plain Nonfat Yogurt or a plain greek yogurt) 
  • milk of your choice (skim, 1%, 2%, whole, even almond and coconut are supposed to work!  I have only used skim and 1% cow’s milk), 
  • Stove
  • Oven, dehydrator, or large cooler
  • pot large enough to hold the volume of milk you’ve chosen to turn into yogurt
  • sealing jar(s) for “cooking” the yogurt (I choose to use 1.5 to 2 cup mason jars so I can portion the yogurt before cooking.  That way, when I want to east some, I do not risk contaminating the whole batch and killing my yogurt culture)
  • whisk, fork, or blender
  • Cooking thermometer the reads between 100 and 175 degrees.  I like my Oneida digital thermometer – it has an alarm to alert me when the desired temperature is reached, when temperature is increasing (does not work on the cool-down)
  • large watertight container to fit the pot.  I use my sink.
  • water (and optional ice/ice packs) for cooling the pot of milk
  • helpful: funnel that fits your “cooking” container
  • helpful: ladle or measuring cup/cup with handle to scoop yogurt into containers
  • optional: sweetener of choice.  I use pure stevia powder
Instructions
  1. Pour milk into large pot.  Insert thermometer into milk and attach to pot if possible.  I have a digital thermometer with a long cord.  I use a clothes pin to clip the cord to the pot handle, which holds the thermometer probe in the pot of milk, away from the side.  Heat the milk over low-medium heat until it reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring periodically.  Immediately remove from heat.   Notes:  Low heat will take a lot longer to reach 170 degrees, but is less likely for the milk to burn onto the pan.  Medium heat will achieve the desired temperature faster (30-45 minutes on my stove), but the milk will burn onto the bottom of the pot a little.  Not a problem, but a pain to clean.  

    making yogurt
    cooking the milk
  2. Place the pot of hot milk into a watertight container filled with water.  I put the pot in my sink, fill the sink with water to the height of the milk in the pot, and place several ice packs in the water.  Stirring frequently, cool the milk to 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

    making yogurt
    cooling the milk
  3. After the milk cools to 115 degrees Fahrenheit, take the pot out of the cold water.  Combine your starter yogurt with about a cup of warm milk an mix well using a fork, whisk, or small blender (I am lazy and love using the single serving cup of my Ninja).  Pour the milk-yogurt mixture into the pot of warm milk and stir well.  If you’re sweetening your yogurt you can add it to the large pot now, and stir, or add to the individual jars if you’re portioning.

    making yogurt
    blending the starter yogurt with heated milk
  4. If “cooking” yogurt in the oven, preheat your oven to the lowest setting. Turn it off before it reaches temperature.  You’re aiming for about 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit.  I have a thermometer inside the oven that helps me regulate the temperature.  If “cooking” yogurt in a large cooler, heat water to 110 degrees and pour into cooler.  If “cooking” your yogurt in a dehydrator, follow turn on to 115 degrees and optionally, set the timer.  (I recently purchased this food dehydrator, which I love.  Since I haven;t used it much yet, I used my cooking thermometer to verify the internal dehydrator temperature.)
  5. Pour your yogurt into “cooking” jar(s).  I have always used glass, and recommend glass due to its non-reactive nature and tolerance to heat and cold.  I use canning jars, a canning jar funnel, and a ladle to portion the yogurt into jars.  There is no need to leave air space at the top as I did – I like this extra space for the add-ins that I always put in my yogurt.  

    making yogurt
    portioning the yogurt for “cooking”
  6. Wipe the top of your jar(s) and put the lids on.
  7. Place the jars in the oven or cooler with hot water and let the yogurt “cook”for 4-12 hours.  The longer the yogurt “cooks”, the more tart it will taste – more like Greek yogurt flavor.  I prefer to cook my yogurt for 10-12 hours (the dehydrator comes in handy here) – it results in a thicker yogurt, consistency similar to store bought yogurt.  When using the oven, I check my oven temperature hourly, and if it’s dropped below 100 degrees Fahrenheit, I turn the oven on briefly (I have a gas oven, so 30-60 seconds, including the time before the burner ignites).  This usually boosts the temperature to about 115 degrees, optimal yogurt making temperature.
    making yogurt
    “cooking” the yogurt

    making yogurt
    “cooking” the yogurt
  8. a. To check if the yogurt is done, turn the jar at a slight angle.  If the milk flows so the top surface is parallel to the floor your yogurt needs more time (or something went wrong).  If the top of the yogurt stays in place when you turn the jar, you’re done!  You can now put all of the yogurt into the refrigerator, or go to alternate step 8b.
    making yogurt
    “cooked” yogurt has set

    8. b. I soak most of the seeds and grains to remove phytic acid (you can read more about why some people find it desirable to remove phytic acid from their foods before consumption here).  While I usually soak with apple cider vinegar as my acidic medium, yogurt works as well.   After my yogurt has fully “cooked”, I measure 1 teaspoon of chia seeds and 1 teaspoon of ground flax seeds into each jar, stir enough to moisten the seeds, and return the covered jars to the dehydrator.  I keep the temperature between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, for 6-10 hours.  

  9. Once the yogurt has cooled in the refrigerator, it’s ready to eat!  I like to top mine with chia seeds, ground flax seed, cinnamon, fruit, cacao nibs, and a little oats.  The flax and chia seeds help thicken the yogurt. 

    making yogurt
    prepared yogurt

I have found that if I use a regular yogurt starter (or some from my last batch), this yogurt is a little thinner than store bought yogurt.  When I start with Greek yogurt and “cook” for at least 10 hours, the yogurt comes out thicker.  I always add ingredients before eating so this does not bother me.  Optionally, you can pour the yogurt into the middle of a large piece of double layer cheese cloth, gather the corners/edges, and gently squeeze or allow to hang to drain the whey.

Make sure to set aside 4-8 ounces of yogurt to be the starter for your next batch!  I usually leave this unsweetened.

Tips and troubleshooting

Yogurt lasts at least 3-4 weeks in the fridge.  I have not tested longer times, I eat it all within a month.

It is normal to have a little liquid (whey) at the top of the jar, with the majority of the yogurt gelatinous like yogurt usually is.  You can dab the top of the jar with a clean dish cloth or paper towel to absorb the excess liquid.

After adding the yogurt, if the milk/liquid yogurt temperature raises higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll kill the yogurt cultures and end up with warm milk, no matter how long you “cook” the yogurt.

Most blogs recommend sterilizing the yogurt jars and all kitchen tools that will come in contact with the yogurt.  The risk of not sterilizing is that bacterial that kills yogurt may be in the jars or on the tools.  If the yogurt cultures die, no yogurt.  I have found sterilizing to be very time consuming and do not do this.  Only once in at least 8 batches of yogurt did I have a failure, and I believe it is because I accidentally heated the oven too hot when I was trying to boost the temperature when cooking the yogurt.  I think I killed the yogurt with heat, not bacteria.

I love making my own yogurt, because I know exactly what ingredients are in it, and it is much less expensive than store bought yogurt!

Cost

I start with Dannon .  The only ingredients are cultured nonfat grade A milk, pectin, and L. Acidophylus – the live yogurt cultures. On sale for $0.50 per 5.3-ounce cup.

I typically use regular 1% milk, $2.79 per gallon at BJ’s.  Recently I saw it at Aldi’s for $2.39.  Organic milk is about $6.99/gallon in my area – still not a bad price!

My cost for my first 1 gallon of yogurt is $0.50+$2.79=$3.29.  I portion this into 16 cups plus about 5 ounces left over for my next batch.  Each serving costs me $3.29/16=$0.21.  

After I have my starter, each batch is only $2.79, or $2.79/16=$0.1744 (I’ll round up to $0.18 to be conservative) per 8-ounce serving.

If I used organic milk, each serving is only $6.99/16=$0.44 per 8-ounce serving.

Remember, my starter yogurt was $0.50 for 6 ounces, on sale.  I’d need just over 21 cartons of Dannon yogurt to equal 1 gallon. 21x$0.50=$10.50.  

For each batch after the first, I am saving $10.50-$3.29=$7.21 per gallon of yogurt.  Say I only ate a 6-ounce cup of yogurt at a time if I was buying in store, I’d be paying 16x$0.50=$8.00. $8.00-$3.29=$4.71 savings over 16 servings.  Assuming I eat yogurt 5 times a week (I usually eat it 5-6 times per week): 5×52=260 servings of yogurt per year.  At my cost of $0.18/serving, this costs me $0.18×260=$46.8 per year.  If I bought the 6-ounce cups of Dannon yogurt, I’d pay $0.50×260=$130.  I save $130-$46.8=$83.20 per year just by making my own yogurt!

Please note, making yogurt does take time.  You always need to weight the value of your time versus cost savings.  I enjoy being in the kitchen and making my won food.  Currently, I am able to make time to make my own food and am able to enjoy monetary savings from doing this, so I keep doing it!

Soaked Whole Wheat Bread

whole wheat bread recipe

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase through these links.  There is no cost to you. See my Disclosure Policy for more information. 

This soaked whole wheat bread is so light and delicious!  I love it toasted with a little butter or peanut butter.  Delicious and nutritious breakfast or snack! (bonus: wheat bread + peanut butter = complete protein!)

Soaked Whole Wheat Bread
Yields 2
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
2088 calories
423 g
0 g
6 g
75 g
1 g
922 g
2378 g
14 g
0 g
3 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
922g
Yields
2
Amount Per Serving
Calories 2088
Calories from Fat 50
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 6g
9%
Saturated Fat 1g
5%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 2378mg
99%
Total Carbohydrates 423g
141%
Dietary Fiber 16g
62%
Sugars 14g
Protein 75g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
13%
Iron
42%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 8 1/2 c. whole wheat flour (1020 grams)
  2. 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten, added after soaking
  3. 2.5 c. plus 1/4 cup filtered water
  4. 2.5 tbsp. acidic medium (apple cider vinegar, whey, yogurt, kefir, lemon - I prefer apple cider vinegar)
  5. 2 tsp. salt
  6. 2 heaping tsp. instant yeast
  7. 2 tbsp. sugar
Instructions
  1. 1. Mix flour, 2.5 cups water, & acidic medium until well incorporated. I use my KitchenAid Stand Mixer. Start with 2.5 cups water and slowly (1 teaspoon or tablespoon at a time) add more until all flour is moistened. The dough should be VERY thick. Cover with greased plastic wrap or a silicone bowl cover, if you're lucky enough to have one, and sit at room temperature for 10-24 hours (longer time results in more sour taste - I prefer 10-12 hours)
  2. 2. After 10-24 hours, warm dough for 10 minutes by placing in a warm oven. I turn my oven onto its lowest temperature, 170 degrees Fahrenheit, then turn off before putting the dough in.
  3. 3. Heat 1/4 cup water to about 110 degrees Fahrenheit (about 18-20 seconds in my 900 watt microwave, in a 1 cup mason jar). Mix warm water, yeast & sweetener. Allow yeast to feed on the sugar about 5-10 minutes. Take the dough out of the oven. Add yeast mixture to dough. Add wheat gluten. Mix well by kneading with hands or electric mixer. Cover with greased plastic wrap or a silicone bowl cover, and let rise in a warm oven (again I turn on to lowest setting, the turn off) for 45-60 minutes or until doubled.
  4. 4. After 45-60 minutes, sprinkle 2 tsp. of salt & 1/2 crushed Vitamin C tablet and knead well with hands or electric stand mixer until the dough is tough and the gluten is well-formed. If needed, add more flour slowly. Butter two loaf pans. Divide dough in half and form each into a cylinder. Place each loaf in its pan. Alternately, you can roll out the dough then roll it up like a jelly roll. This will yield a smoother, more uniform loaf. I choose to roughly shape with my hands because it is much faster and less messy for me.
  5. 5. Place the loaf pans with dough in a warm oven & let rise, uncovered, another 45-60 minutes. After 45-60 minutes, carefully remove risen bread out of oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. 6. Bake the bread at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees. (I use a standard meat thermometer like this Taylor Precision Products one to measure - it has a nifty marker to make it easy to see when your food has reached the desired temperature! I insert after about 20 minutes. If you insert before beginning baking the dough may fall.) Remove bread from oven and let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove and let cool for 10-25 minutes before cutting. If you have an electric knife, I recommend that to cut - you'll get nice smooth cuts and it'll only take a few minutes to slice!
beta
calories
2088
fat
6g
protein
75g
carbs
423g
more
http://www.mygreenerliving.com/
I found this recipe on Weed Em and Reap when I was first looking for recipes that guided me with how to soak grains.  I have made this bread three times in a couple months and I love it.  Not only does the soaking remove the nutrient-stealing phytic acid, but it also softens the grains of wheat flour, making this bread lighter and smoother than traditional wheat breads.

Here’s my version of the recipe:

Hands-on prep time: about 25 minutes

Cook time: about 25 minutes

Total time including soaking and rising: 13-27 hours

Ingredients

8 1/2 c. whole wheat flour (1020 grams – I always weigh my flour.  I love my digital kitchen scale)
¼ cup vital wheat gluten, added after soaking
2.5 c. plus 1/4 cup filtered water
2.5 tbsp. acidic medium (apple cider vinegar, whey, yogurt, kefir, lemon – I prefer apple cider vinegar)
2 tsp. salt
2 heaping tsp. instant yeast
2 tbsp. sugar

Instructions

1. Mix flour, 2.5 cups water, & acidic medium until well incorporated. I use my KitchenAid Stand Mixer.  Start with 2.5 cups water and slowly (1 teaspoon or tablespoon at a time) add more until all flour is moistened. The dough should be VERY thick. Cover with greased plastic wrap or a silicone bowl cover, if you’re lucky enough to have one, and sit at room temperature for 10-24 hours (longer time results in more sour taste – I prefer 10-12 hours)

whole wheat bread recipe
mixing the dough

2. After 10-24 hours, warm dough for 10 minutes by placing in a warm oven.  I turn my oven onto its lowest temperature, 170 degrees Fahrenheit, then turn off before putting the dough in.

3. Heat 1/4 cup water to about 110 degrees Fahrenheit (about 18-20 seconds in my 900 watt microwave, in a 1 cup mason jar).  Mix warm water, yeast & sweetener.  Allow yeast to feed on the sugar about 5-10 minutes.  Take the dough out of the oven.  Add yeast mixture to dough. Add wheat gluten. Mix well by kneading with hands or electric mixer. Cover with greased plastic wrap or a silicone bowl cover and let rise in a warm oven (again I turn on to lowest setting, the turn off) for 45-60 minutes or until doubled.

whole wheat bread recipe
Before rising
whole wheat bread recipe
After rising

4. After 45-60 minutes, sprinkle 2 tsp. of salt & 1/2 crushed Vitamin C tablet and knead well with hands or electric stand mixer until the dough is tough and the gluten is well-formed.  If needed, add more flour slowly.  Butter two loaf pans.  Divide dough in half and form each into a cylinder. Place each loaf in its pan.  Alternately, you can roll out the dough then roll it up like a jelly roll.  This will yield a smoother, more uniform loaf.  I choose to roughly shape with my hands because it is much faster and less messy for me.

whole wheat bread recipe
in the oven

5. Place the loaf pans with dough in a warm oven & let rise, uncovered, another 45-60 minutes.  After 45-60 minutes, carefully remove risen bread out of oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

whole wheat bread recipe
baked bread

6. Bake the bread at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees. (I use a standard meat thermometer like this Taylor Precision Products one to measure – it has a nifty marker to make it easy to see when your food has reached the desired temperature!  I insert after about 20 minutes.  If you insert before beginning baking the dough may fall.) Remove bread from oven and let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove and let cool for 10-25 minutes before cutting.  If you have an electric knife, I recommend that to cut – you’ll get nice smooth cuts and it’ll only take a few minutes to slice!

whole wheat bread recipe
the finished product

One batch yields 2 loaves, and I get 14 slices per loaf, including ends.  The whole wheat and multi-grain bread that I used to buy was 16 slices per loaf, including ends.

whole wheat bread recipe
sliced whole wheat bread

One loaf of store bought bread is approximately $2.99 on sale, or $2.99/16=$0.19 per slice.

My bread cost breakdown

1-5 pound bag of whole wheat flour, Stop and Shop brand, $3.49.  This recipe uses 8.5 cups flour, or 1020/2270=0.4493=45% of the bag.  $3.49×0.45=$1.57. 

1-22 ounce bag of Bob’s Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten, $10.93 on Amazon (I can get it less expensive at a local chain, Ocean State Job Lot, but I do not recall the price so I’ll use the readily available Amazon price).  This recipe uses 1/4 cup, or 30/623.69=0.048=5% of the bag.  $10.93×0.05=$0.55.

Water – I have an in-line filter for my tap water, which is very inexpensive.  For the purposes of this price comparison, water is free.

Apple cider vinegar – I use Vermont Village Organic Apple Cider Vinegar from BJ’s WHolesale Club.  It costs $8.99 for two-32 ounce (946mL) bottles.  2.5 Tbsp is 36.9675/(946×2)=0.0195=2% of the bottles.  $8.99×0.02=$0.18 (Also available on Amazon)

Salt – I use iodized table salt, $0.99 for 26 ounces at a grocery store, Target, Walmart, etc.  This recipe uses 2.846/737=0.0039=.39% of a carton. $0.99x.0039=$0.0038->round up to $0.01

Instant yeast – I use Fleischmann’s Bread Machine Yeast, $7.99 for a 4 oz/113 gram jar at my local Stop and Shop.  This recipe uses 2 heaping teaspoons (about 2.25 teaspoons), or 7 grams.  7/113=0.0619=6.2% of a jar.  $7.99x.062=$0.50. (Saf yeast available on Amazon has worked well for me too)

Sugar – 10 lb bag for $4.99 at BJ’s.  I always buy with a coupon, so $3.99 for 10 pounds.  2 Tbsp=24 grams; 24/4535.92=0.00529=0.53% of a 10 lb bag.  $3.99×0.0053=$0.02.

Total cost for 2 loaves of home made bread: $1.57+$0.55+$0.18+$0.01+$0.50+$0.02=$2.83.  Two loaves of my bread cost less than one regular loaf on sale.  If I buy discounted/nearing expiration bread at the grocery store, I can probably get it for $1.00-$1.50, making it possible to purchase bread for lower cost than making it.  However, soaked bread is more expensive, not to mention hard to find.  I plan to keep making my own bread whenever I have time.  I enjoy baking, enjoy the flavor, and enjoy minor cost savings over store bought bread.

I hope you enjoy this recipe!  Happy baking!