Last night my sister mentioned just how much sugar there is in commercial flavored yogurt. YOU BET! Growing up in the 70s we made our own yogurt in the old Salton Yogurt Maker, silly thing only made 5 little containers full. In college, in the coop dorm, I was the yogurt maker for a year, and made yogurt in 20 gallon batches. So, yes, I know about yogurt. And rarely give it a thought, but suddenly realized that I should post this simple recipe. Stop paying big money to the corporate food monsters and make your own! You can make a batch every other week and stay supplied all the time. It keeps very well in the fridge, and you can find lots of ways of using it.

Basic Yogurt Recipe

Materials: Medium cardboard box, or small cooler, big enough to hold the two quart containers surrounded by towels

2 bath towels

2 1 qt plastic containers, very clean and dry, with lids. Can use yogurt containers from commercial yogurt

Kitchen thermometer for testing milk temperature, instant read is best

2 quarts milk, any kind you like, skim is not so good

clean stainless pot large enough to hold milk

Store bought yogurt, the best you can get, from the health food store, or plain unflavored Dannon if that is all you can get.  A small one is plenty.

Instructions: Place the milk in the pot and heat over low heat until the temperature reaches 180. Do not let it boil. This is called scalding. A slight skin may form over the top. Make sure the thermometer is not touching the bottom of the pan, but is just measuring the temperature of the milk.

When the milk reaches 180. Turn off the heat and monitor the temp as it cools. When it reaches 110, and NO HIGHER, add 2 -4 Tablespoons of yogurt and mix well with a wire whisk. Pour the milk into the two containers and cover.

While all of the above is going on, line your box or cooler with one bath towel to make an insulating layer. Put the yogurt containers into the box, next to each other, and make sure they are well insulated with the towel. Place another towel over the top. Set in a quiet place overnight. Next morning you will have yogurt.

You could also put foil around the new yogurt containers to assist in them holding their heat.


If the yogurt does not ‘yog’, it is due to one of the following problems:

Your milk was too hot, or not hot enough when you added the culture. 100 is about the lowest temp that will work. Anything over 110 really will kill the culture.

Your containers were not clean and other bacteria or chemicals killed the culture.

Your insulation was not good enough and the yogurt lost heat so the culture could not grow.

Your starter yogurt from a commercial source did not have live acidophillus in it, or was designed by its producer to not be able to be used as a starter.

More Notes

If you like your yogurt to be thicker you can do two things:

Dissolve 1/4 c  (or more to taste) dried milk powder in the heated milk before adding the culture

Dissolve 1 tsp plain gelatine in 1/4 c cold water and allow to bloom for a few minutes. Add to the cooled milk and stir well when adding the starter culture.

Some people will allow the yogurt to stand overnight in a warm oven, but you must have a pilot light for this to work. Others will start the oven and warm it to low, then turn if off and leave the containers in the oven over night. I have killed many batches doing this, as I always had my oven too hot and killed the culture. I think the box-and-bath-towel method works best.

My aunt once went on a backpacking trip where goats were used as pack animals. They would milk the goats and make yogurt overnight in their sleeping bags. Just as an example.

Using Plain Yogurt

I cannot give a complete list, but here are some starter ideas:

Eat plain yogurt with honey, fresh fruit, granola, use in homemade salad dressings, use as a base for sauces, as a dressing for a fruit salad, as a protein source in smoothies, take in lunch box, or enjoy plain, as I do. I really like making mine with non-homogenized, raw milk. So yummy I could eat way too much.