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Easy Homemade Yogurt

I started making homemade yogurt in 1982 when we moved to West Virginia. My husband was working on his PhD in ruminant nutrition and had a small herd of Holstein cows that he ran feed trials on. He fed them different kinds of grains and the milk was ours to keep. Do you KNOW how how much milk a Holstein cow produces every day at her peak? About 30 gallons. So, I made cheese, butter, yogurt. We even had cream on our cereal and with fresh berries we picked near our home every day.

Good stuff.

This is the recipe I have used for years. It isn’t whole foods or organic, just just ordinary and good.  I got the recipe from an Amish friend.  If you make it, make it exactly as explained. I like this recipe because its good for using up food storage items and keeping your inventory moving. If you prefer, you can of course use only fresh, raw milk and a culture. It takes a little longer but produces a delicious product.

I probably don’t need to mention that homemade yogurt is a lot less expensive than store-bought.  Plus, you know what is in it, no  artificial thickeners or questionable ingredients.



You will need some clean jars to incubate your yogurt in, a couple of large bowls, a whisk or spoon, a food thermometer if you have one and a large pan to sit your jars in if you’re going to incubate them in the oven or stovetop.

Small jars work better than large ones in my experience. I have used pint jars, half pint jars, small commercial fruit and jam jars and quart mason jars. The smaller ones just work better for me and it definitely takes less time to get good and thick in the small jars. 

Makes 2 quarts of yogurt
Step 1:
In a large bowl, combine:
3 cups powdered milk
6 cups warm water
Stir Well and add:
1 can evaporated milk OR 1 – 2/3 cup scalded whole milk. You can use 2% milk.

If you have fresh, full-fat, raw milk, even better. You want all that fat to make a great yogurt.

Step 2:
Combine in a separate, small bowl or pan:
1/3 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt
1 cup milk from the bowl

Blend until smooth and return to the remaining milk. Mix well Pour into clean jars. Incubate at 110-120*F until set. Refrigerate.

I use Greek Yogurt for the 1/2 cup of yogurt I add to the milk in step 2. Greek Yogurt is heavier, thicker I guess and I think it makes a better finished product than regular plain yogurt. I just buy the small, single serving size of plain Greek yogurt. If I make yogurt often, I just use a bit of my homemade as the starter.


Yogurt has to sit at a warm temperature for a few hours so that the bacteria will grow and make the milk thick and tangy flavored. You can use clean glass jars and sit the jars into warm water on the stove top. Just increase the heat under the pot every now and then to keep the temperature up to 110*-120* F.

*You can also place the jars of yogurt in a cooler with warm water and then wrap the cooler up in quilts. Put your jars filled with the liquid milk mixture in the cooler, add 120*F water up to the neck of the jars, put the lid on the cooler then wrap the whole cooler in quilts and blankets to hold in the heat. You can check the temperature using a kitchen thermometer after about 4 hours. If the temp is lower than 110*F, ladle out some of the water and replace it with water that is the correct temperature. You could even empty out all of the cooled water and start over with 120*F water. If you have a really good, insulating cooler, you won’t need to add or replace any water throughout the process.

*You can also use an electric skillet. I put water in the skillet and stood the jars in the water, keeping the temperature adjusted by turning the skillet on and off at intervals.

*You can also use the pilot light on your gas stove. I’ve done that and it works well. Place the jars in a pan of water, the pan of water over the pilot light and cover the pan.

All of these methods will work and take from 4 to 8 hours, you just have to keep checking.
If you make a batch that does not gel, you can mix up 1 envelope of plain gelatin into 1/4 cup warm water to dissolve, then stir well into 1 qt of yogurt. Chill the yogurt and it should be salvaged nicely.

If you get the yogurt too hot however, you will probably not be too excited about the resulting texture of the yogurt, it tends to curdle, so keep the heat down.

Here are some pictures of me making yogurt last week.

I bought a Donvier yogurt incubator at a yard sale several years ago for $4 and it was brand new. It has served me well! I don’t have to keep track of temp or time now.


Pointers About Yogurt:

Use yogurt as a salad dressing and substitute for sour cream.
When adding fruit or sugar to yogurt, fold it in. Stirring causes the gel to break down.
Yogurt is great with hot or spicy foods!
When you serve homemade yogurt for the first time, be generous with the sweetener, most people are used to store bought yogurt which is very sweet. Reduce the sweetener gradually.
Yogurt will keep one to two weeks in the refrigerator., Be sure to keep 1/2 cup of your yogurt to use for the next batch!


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