Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Raw Milk Yogurt Escapades

I hadn’t made raw milk yogurt when I wrote the yogurt post, so I’ve been on an adventure to get it right since then.  Here are the raw milk modifications plus my experiments…

Note: For the actual directions, click How to Make Creamy Raw Milk Yogurt – I finally figured it out! This page is really just an interesting journal of all the things I tried, but it is no longer incredibly helpful, just interesting. I almost deleted it entirely, but it’s fun to watch my journey…

First of all, let me just encourage you to make yogurt, period.  If you’re committed to nutrition enough to seek out raw milk, you already have the time and skills to make yogurt, I promise.  Remember:  it’s not rocket science.  Second, if you can’t afford enough raw milk to make yogurt, remember that even Sally Fallon, the most conservative food writer I’ve ever encountered, says in NT that making yogurt from storebought whole milk is acceptable. Embrace the savings you can accrue from making yogurt for a year with pasteurized milk, and maybe you can add a gallon of raw milk next year!

  • Since raw milk has all those lovely living enzymes, you want to make sure you don’t heat it above 118 degrees, the temperature at which those enzymes will die.
  • Step 6: Keep a close eye on the thermometer and turn off the heat when it reaches 110. If you’re nervous you’ll miss it, stop anytime after 101 degrees – that’s the temp of milk when it comes out off the cow.
  • Skip steps 7, 8 and 9.
  • Step 10: (This is not from experience, but from Nourishing Traditions, p. 85, so I’m not sure why the change. My hunch is that you need more starter for raw milk because the healthy bacteria are competing with the living enzymes for space.) Add a total of 3 Tbs plus 2 tsp plain yogurt and stir well.
  • UPDATE: I made raw milk yogurt for the first time because some of ours was going sour. It looked like concentrated cream cheese at the bottom of the jar and almost 3 cups whey when it was finished culturing. What?? I have no idea what happened. It was very odd. I did overheat it, unfortunately, because I’m not used to having to watch my temp, so I killed the enzymes. Hmph. I’ll have to try again sometime… [Now I understand that old milk doesn't make good raw yogurt...Remember to check out the post with all the directions for raw yogurt in a very clear form, plus a trick for getting it thick!]
  • UPDATE 5/18/09: Second attempt at raw milk yogurt. I heated 2 jars to 110 degrees or so and the other two to about 150 degrees. Used ~4 Tbs starter yogurt in all and incubated 8 hours in a cooler. They all turned out quite similar, the only difference being that the 110 degrees jars may have had a bit more whey. They weren’t the crazy flop the first attempt was though! They are very tangy, and the texture is not very smooth. They are so liquidy, in fact, that I strained 2 jars for just a half hour or so through a tea towel and got one jar of whey and one jar of yogurt. I can eat it, but it’s not a pleasant experience. It takes more sweetener to get it down. :( My next experiment will use three different jars: to leave a jar on the counter after heating to 110 degrees, to incubate in the cooler for only 4 hours, and to add only 2 Tbs starter, just to see what happens. I hope I can get this down, because my husband won’t eat the raw milk yogurt and I’m not enjoying it!
  • UPDATE 5/30/09: The raw milk yogurt experiment:1.  on the counter:  no good.  Temp not nearly high enough to incubate yogurt.  It’s pretty much milk with yogurt suspended in it.  I only left it 4 hours; maybe some would say to go longer, but I didn’t want to waste the milk.  We’ll have smoothies with it tomorrow!2.  4 hours is a good time in the cooler; the yogurt is plenty thick enough.3.  I have to disagree with Sally Fallon.  I tried 5 Tbs of starter (slightly more than she recommends) and 2 Tbs, along with the 3+ Tbs that Nourishing Traditions calls for.  The 5 Tbs version was awful: all whey and a little sludge.  Both the 2 and 3+ Tbs version worked fine, but the 2 Tbs version is much smoother, although very whey-filled. I can’t even handle the texture of the Fallon version. It will be hung to make cream cheese for sure.Here are the photos, in order left to right 2 Tbs, 3+ Tbs and 5 Tbs, then a closeup of each.
    img_6701
    img_6702
    img_6703
    img_6704
  • There is some great conversation in the comments at Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s yogurt post.

I just came across this article on raw milk yogurt making, and it may give me some better success! Can’t wait to try her recommendations!

AHA!  UPDATE, 1/2010:  I have done it!  Here is the trick, which I have replicated twice now: don’t make raw yogurt from raw milk.  Seriously.  If you want yogurt for smoothies and recipes that is truly raw, then go for it, but unless you  know hidden secrets that I don’t, it will be inconsistent at best, like the photos above at worst.  I bring the raw milk up to 180 degrees and leave it there for a while, then proceed with my recipe as normal.  Beautiful results!  Taste and texture are both excellent, creamy and not too tangy.  Phew!

A BETTER UPDATE, 5/2011: After some discussion with others, I started wondering about incubation temperature. I tried a few more batches of raw yogurt by heating to 110F, stirring in the starter to specs here, then incubating in an Excalibur dehydrator (trays are removable) at 100F, lower than I think I’m used to. Whether it’s the constancy of the temperature or the temp itself, this method had MUCH better results. Very edible and not relegated to smoothies only. When I think of it, when I’m willing to use the electricity, and, this is the clincher – when I remember to grab the jars before they’re boiling away (!), I can now make truly raw yogurt. It still is not exactly as creamy as pasteurized yogurt and is slightly tangier, even with the same incubation practice, but I’ll take it!

84 Comments

84 Comments so far ↓

  • Sustainable Eats

    I was adding more then 2 T of cultured raw yogurt starter to my quart of raw milk and having runny yogurt that separated. Once I started carefully measuring no more then 2 T it set up like a charm. I don’t heat it at all though – I just let it sit out on the counter as long as it takes to set up and then put it in the fridge for at least 3 hours before eating. It’s sweet, creamy and firm. Only for a couple days though, then it goes yeasty and separates to I eat it quickly and make more. I love your in depth trials!

    http://sustainableeats.wordpress.com/2009/03/18/cultured-dairy-products/

    [Reply to this comment]

    Pat Reply:

    Do I understand you to say you take 1 qt raw milk, add exactly 2 T yogurt from the store and put it on the counter until it sets up? (I assume covered)…

    Thanks,
    Pat

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Pat,
    Not exactly. I have a countertop culture from Cultures for Health (see this post: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/09/22/how-to-make-countertop-culture-yogurt/) that cultures at room temp. For store yogurt, you need to incubate between 90-110 degrees, so you must heat the milk to that temp and then keep it warm – I use a picnic cooler. See this post for more details: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/04/13/monday-mission-homemade-yogurt-the-easy-way/
    Best of luck!
    Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Tammy Brandner Reply:

    Could you please tell me which countertop culture you bought? I want to order one but want a taste I am accustom too… Please help…Thanks so very much!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Tammy,
    I bought Viili or Vilii (sp?) but I thought it was too tangy. See this post for more info: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/09/22/how-to-make-countertop-culture-yogurt/

    Thanks! Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Casey

    Hokay,

    First out, THANK YOU, Katie! I have Ulcerative Colitis, and I’ve been looking to make my own raw milk yogurt for a while. Even if I never get better, which I believe I will EVENTUALLY -.- , you sharing experiences that I will attempt myself helps me to avoid the unforeseen pitfalls that you’ve happened upon.

    Next is my slight confusion on process. I’d like to do a 30 hour culture, vis-a-vis Jordan Rubin and the Maker’s Diet, but SE above there says they just put the ‘concoction’ directly into the fridge. O_o I’s is confused now. My default is to proceed with Katie’s info first, and play from there.

    And lastly, might’nt you be able to use 2 Tbs of your yield to continue the process indefinite-like?

    Your servant and His,
    Casey
    Isa. 1:18

    Bonus: If it, as I believe it to be, is possible to reuse your own yogurt what would you do if you didn’t want to reuse it right away? I guess what I’m asking is, if you freeze a small sample would it still be viable later? And how long should it be viable for? I think it would be very nice indeed if you could simply make a months worth of yogurt, setting aside 2 Tbs, and not have to worry about buying more raw milk for a month. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Casey,

    GREAT questions! Welcome to Kitchen Stewardship. I hope I can help clear up some confusion. (I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this on the site, by the way, but my husband has Crohn’s Disease, so I have a connection with your need for good nutrition, for sure.)

    Sus. Eats above does incubate her yogurt, just on the counter. I got too chicken when I tried this on the counter, but I should do it again. I don’t know what she uses as her starter, but I’m thinking this makes all the difference. I have a few friends who successfully make raw milk yogurt, and they either use a Greek yogurt from the store or a powder starter: Natren Probiotic Yogurt Starter (maybe Natren Bulgarian?). One sent me instructions:

    After getting milk to 180 degrees and back to about 110, Place 1-2 level teaspoons (I use 1 1/2 for 2 quarts) of starter in an ovenproof container. (NOTE: Once I’ve made the original batch and am beginning a new batch from an existing batch, I use 3-4 TBSP of the original batch of yogurt per 2 quarts of milk. Does that make sense? So, once I’ve already made a batch of yogurt and am using that batch to start a new one, the amount of yogurt I use to “start” my next batch is 3-4TBSP per 2 quarts). Add 2 TBSP (I just eyeball this) of the lukewarm milk and make a smooth paste by whisking together. Continue to add milk a small amount at a time, blending thoroughly after each addition. (She also whisks it for 30 seconds after cooling it to make it creamy – no lumps.)

    I have yet to spring for an expensive starter because I don’t usually have leftover raw milk, but if I made it regularly, I would.

    I am pretty sure that you could culture any yogurt for 30 hours if you keep it at the proper temp – but I will say that my raw yogurt tended to separate into whey and cream cheese they longer I kept it. ?? Maybe there’s something with the enzymes in raw milk.

    You can continue to use your own yogurt as starter, but with raw milk you need to make a “seed” – follow Sus. Eats link above for her instructions on how to do this. Also check out info at Kelly the Kitchen Kop, link above. Most of my friends who have success with raw milk yogurt use the Natren starter every time, so I can’t really comment on this.

    You can definitely freeze the yogurt starter. I don’t know for how long, but a month would for SURE be workable, probably up to 6 months (just a guess!). See my original yogurt post for more on that. I would set aside more than 2 Tbs though, in case you want to make more yogurt next batch or whatever. For eating the yogurt, freezing it for more than overnight does change the consistency (not as smooth).

    Blessings!
    Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Cindy

    Hi I’m new at his , so thank you very much for your site and input. My question is with the raw milk is do you strain the cream off before making the yogurt? .we now have our own Jersey we hand milk everyday so I need lots of stuff to need to make with her milk. sos .
    Thanx again and GOD BLESS you and your family

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    I would leave the cream right in – thicker yogurt! You could certainly skim *some* cream if you’re making a lot of butter. My favorite “product” so far to make with the raw milk is mozz cheese. You do skim the cream to make butter with b/c it separates out anyway, and you get a bit of ricotta out of the whey. If I made it often, though, I would be drowning in whey! Recipe here: http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/blog/how-to-make-mozzarella-cheese

    What fun to have your own cow! I would definitely recommend looking into Cultures for Health (http://www.culturesforhealth.com/cart.html?m=splash) for yogurt starters (room temp cultures, so easy!) and kefir grains.

    Enjoy – Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    kimberly Reply:

    New to having a Jersey Cow as well! GOT to do something with all this milk!!!!!!!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Sustainable Eats

    Hi – not sure why I never got pinged on this thread earlier. I use piima starter but I used to also have filk milk starter. I do buttermilk too – all on the counter. I’ve never tried with store bought but I would not be afraid to if you are using raw milk. I would never do it with pasturized milk, although the instructions I’ve been given say you can because the yogurt culture keeps everything honest. I’m just a huge fan of raw milk now. It doesn’t go bad, it just gets progressively sour until it finally separates into curds & whey (both of which are still edible, even after 4 or more days at room temp). Amazing stuff!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Meagan

    I believe using too much starter gives too much whey.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jen

    I did it Katie!!! I made yogurt. :) I followed your original recipe exactly, then came back to read more, and found this post. My heart was sinking as I read, because I used raw milk (heated to 185, of course). So as I’m reading this post, I’m kicking myself for not making raw yogurt with my raw milk. Then I got to the last update, and was happy again!

    My husband and I just did a taste test, and it’s thick, creamy, not too tart. It’s AWESOME! I incubated it for 7 1/2 hours and it is perfect. I used the 1 hour in the freezer tip too.

    THANK YOU!!! Let me share how much of a savings this will be for us, so you understand my happiness. I currently pay $5.99 a quart for local, grass fed yogurt. I buy 3 quarts, every two weeks. My raw milk is $7.50 a gallon, and I can get 4 quarts from this! It’s amazing… for just $1.50 more than I pay for one quart of yogurt, I can make 4 times as much myself. YAY!!!!

    Can you feel my excitement coming through? :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Jen,
    Woo hooo! I’m pumped for you! Way to go with trying something new! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • KatieC

    Katie, help! I’m very confused!!

    I was having success with regular, P and H milk-yogurt making. I’ve tried twice now with my raw milk, both times to disastrous results. The first time, I tried raw milk in a slow cooker just like a regular attempt (low heat for 2.5 hours, unplug/sit wrapped in a towel for 3, add starter and incubate). No dice.

    Yesterday I heated 32 ounces to 110 and then put it into a container inside my slow cooker, with warm water filled as high as I could get it. The jar was too tall for me to put the lid on my slow cooker, but I wrapped it all in saran to keep the heat in and then overwrapped it with a towel. I let it sit for about 9 hours and then refrigerated it overnight. This AM, it’s weird…thicker than milk with kind of a cream top, but definitely no yogurty-sour tang. Parts of the body are very much just like regular raw milk. What do I do?

    I see that your January update says to go ahead and heat the milk to 180. But should I do this on the stove top and then put it in my slow cooker with warm water again like I did yesterday? Or how should I incubate it? I have an electric oven, so I can’t do a pilot light or anything like that. I don’t even have an igloo cooler… Am I just hopelessly “sunk?”

    Thank you so very much for any help you can offer. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Katie,
    How frustrating!
    First, did you add a little extra yogurt beyond the 2 Tbs? It takes a smidge extra to fight with the bacteria in the raw milk.
    You could use the jar-in-pot method to warm the milk to 180 for 10 minutes or so, and then incubate it anywhere. Slow cooker with warm water? Yes. Hot car in the sun? Yes! My best raw yogurt was the time I felt adventurous and put it on my porch in the sun and then in my car overnight. ?? I hope you get it to work! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kristin

    I am only now seeing this post on yogurt from raw milk. I am ok with heating my raw milk to 185.

    WHen you say you heat your raw milk to 185 and leave it there for “a while” what does that mean? Like…10 min? 2?

    Also, do you still add 3T + 2 tsp of culture or if you go ahead and pasteurize it can you go back to just adding the 2T per qt?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Kristin,
    I’m so exact….sorry. 10 minutes ought to do it. I do use 2T starter, not the extra b/c you don’t have raw milk bacteria to “battle” with. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Abria Leake

    Hi, Katie
    Thank you for encouraging us to make our own yogurt!!! It was much easier than I thought! I simply put my milk on the stove on the lowest setting for a while, took it off and let it cool down dumped in some yogurt from before (maybe 1/4 -1/3 cup b/c I was making 1/2 gal). Then I stuck it in my jar, wrapped it in a towel, and left it on the counter for 12-24 hrs. Turned out great!!!!! I used raw milk to begin with so even at $2.75 that’s still a great deal for a half gal. of yogurt! Thanks again for this thread!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Cindy

    Hi-I make raw milk yogurt frequently and have had great success with two methods-using Yogourmet starter and using a couple of tablespoons of yogurt.

    I put my raw milk in quart jars and let it sit in the oven with the light on until it is warm to the touch. If I want to speed up the process I will preheat the oven to 170 degrees and then turn it off when I put the milk in the oven.

    Once the milk is warmish I add a couple of tablespoons of yogurt and stir or Yogourmet starter. If I want a thicker yogurt I will add a half a cup of powdered milk when I add the starter.

    I then let the yogurt sit in the oven with the light on until the yogurt sets. If I use the Yogourmet starter it only takes 4-6 hours. If I use a couple of tablespoons of yogurt it takes 8 to 12 hours. The light keeps the oven at about 100 degrees which is just the right temp.

    It is easy and so good!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Cindy,
    I’ve heard good things about the Yogourmet starter! I’m only a little jealous of your success…no idea why I can’t figure this one out! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Megan

    So is there any benefit to starting with raw milk? If I’m pasteurizing it anyway, should I bother spending the extra money on the raw?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Megan,
    It all depends on what you can find. My raw milk happens to be the best price on organic, grassfed, unhomogenized milk I can find, so I embrace those qualities in my yogurt and say “oh well” over the raw-ness. If you can find grassfed organic low-temp pasteurized milk for less than raw, I would go that way. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kelly Cook

    This is a very interesting post and comments! We have our own dairy goats, so getting the raw milk isn’t an issue. What’s surprising me here is that LESS starter makes thicker, less tangy yogurt. Really? My expereince is that it depends on the type of goat. Strictly personal experience, no research on the subject.

    I myself can’t wrap my mind around the logic of killing off beneficial bacteria by heating the raw milk, just to add another beneficail bacteria and encouraging that to grow.

    FWIW, I bring my raw milk to 86 degrees, add my starter culture (1 cup of the previous batch’s yogurt per 2 qts of milk) and place it in the incubator that keeps it at 110. I leave it for 8 hours and then refrigerate. I’ve never looked at it while warm.

    When using Alpine milk, we ALWAYS had about 8-16 oz of whey and the yogurt was thin and tangy. We recently switched to Nubian/Boer cross and there’s no whey and the taste is superb! I might try less starter, but everything I’ve read calls for 8 oz of active live culture yogurt per 2 qts of milk.

    Thanks for another great post!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Kelly,
    I wonder if it’s different for goat’s vs. cow’s milk? I tried and tried to keep it raw, but it just wasn’t happening. It’s still good that my milk is organic and grassfed, so I just don’t worry about killing some enzymes. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Babychaser

    We do this (your 1/2010 version) more or less. I’m curious though… what’s the difference between starting with raw milk and starting with pasteurized milk when you are going to heat it anyways? I’ve been wondering for a while now if I’m just wasting money or if there is still some benefit over pasteurized milk to start with.

    Thanks!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kelly Reply:

    I’ve wondered the same thing. I don’t heat my raw milk, but I’m sure that heating raw milk from a local farmer is still better than starting with store bought pasteurized. I get great results with just bringing to 86* before adding the cultures and incubating.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Babychaser,
    Excellent question. For me, getting raw milk is the only way to get organic, grassfed, unhomogenized milk for a decent (although still steep of course) price, so if I have enough around, I use it for yogurt. If you can get high quality pasteurized milk for less $, then you’re right, there’s not much advantage. It’s often particularly hard to find unhomogenized pasteurized milk in stores.

    If I don’t have enough raw milk, I’ll snitch part of the cream from our gallon of raw and then by store skim and mix them together for yogurt. Some folks find good luck with raw milk, especially if it’s just for smoothies and such, but I’m just not one of them! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Carlyn

    I successfully make raw yogurt pretty much every week. I don’t measure exactly, but I think I use about 3 T starter (my previous batch of yogurt) per litre of milk. I heat the raw whole milk to 110ish degrees F, mix the yogurt in, then set in our picnic cooler with a hot jar of water beside to keep warm for about 24ish hours. The consistency is similar to plain yogurt I have bought at the grocery store.

    I LOVE the flavour of our yogurt!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Carlyn,
    You don’t have to make a sterilized “seed” to restart your raw milk every time or two? That’s wonderful that you get such good results! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Carlyn Reply:

    I can usually go for months before I need to start over. I’m not sure why my results are working, after reading that most people have trouble using raw milk for yogurt…but I’m sure glad it’s working :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kelly Reply:

    I’m with Carlyn. The only time I start with a new culture is if I forgot to set aside a cup of the last batch and end up using it all before I remember. I use a higher quantity of starter than what it sounds like most people do. 1 cup per 1/2 gallon of milk. We have Nubians and Alpines and the best yogurt comes from a mix of about 35/65 in qty. It’s thick and creamy and we use it to make daily smoothies which are SO yummy!
    I’d like to encourage any fence sitters to just give it a try and not give up if it doesn’t work the first time. My first attempt was more than a year ago and it took several attempts to get it right. We didn’t have Nubian milk until last summer and that’s when things started getting even better.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Dawn Reply:

    Just curious about the flavor of goat milk yogurt…when I was a kid, our babysitter only had goat milk, and to this day I can not handle the flavor of it. How would you say it compares in flavor to yogurt made from cow’s milk? Does it just taste like yogurt, or is there a detectable goat milk flavor? I’m blessed to be able to get local (as in about 5-10 minute drive away), grass fed organic raw cow’s milk for $4 a gallon, but, even at that price, I’m afraid of wasting it! I don’t have farm animals to feed it to if it flops badly LOL. I would like to try it some time, but also thought that if the goat’s milk yogurt isn’t overpoweringly strong in flavor, I’d look for a source for that just to make yogurt and maybe some cheese and keep the raw cow’s milk for drinking and making butter.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kelly Reply:

    If you can get raw cow’s milk for $4/gallon, I wouldn’t hesitate to use it for yogurt! I can’t get it w/o a drive of nearly an hour and then it’s $8/gallon from a farmer and $14 from a retail outlet. Goat’s milk around here is more expensive than that. My goat’s milk costs $5.66/gallon just in feed costs-that’s total feed cost for the year divided by gallons of milk produced. The direct cost is lower because of animals not in milk, but it still cost me that much per year to feed them all. Anyway, my point is at that cost I’d use the cow’s milk. I like the goat’s milk, and the flavor will vary based on what they’ve eaten (never let a milk goat eat tumbleweeds!) but I haven’t made raw milk yogurt from cow’s milk, so I can’t compare. What I make DOES NOT taste like the little cups of yogurt sold at the store. It’s kinda tart/tangy and not sure how else to describe it. If it helps, I never drank store bought milk because I didn’t like the flavor, and I drink our raw goat’s milk direct from the jar now. I rambled a lot and maybe didn’t answer your question very well, but that’s what I have to share.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Tiffany

    The first time I made yogurt I made it the way that http://www.heavenlyhomemakers.com suggest – heat to almost 100 degrees then pour over 3/4c yogurt (in glass jar) then incubate in a cooler with warm water for 7 hours…I only had pint jars so I broke it down to approx. 3T yogurt in each jar, then heated milk & they came out great. A little thinner then yogurt & it did have some tang but none the less it was still good…I made smoothies with it & cream cheese – all pretty good. Second time I made it I used a big 1/2 gallon glass jar & over heated the milk (about 140 or so) & put the 3/4 c yogurt in there (store bought) & then put it in a different cooler filled with hot tap water & I CURDLED it!! Looked just like your first attempt – I threw it away…what can you do with that?? Interested in trying your recipe..would love for it to be thicker & sweeter. I had also skimmed my milk to make butter (both times)…do you think that makes a difference?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Tiffany,
    I do know that the more fat content, the thicker the yogurt. I wonder if my raw yogurt would have been better at a slightly lower temperature. Good luck! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Bert

    I came across this blog by chance in my search for making raw milk yogurt by natural fermentation vs. adding any starter culture. I raise dairy goats. I think I may have a few things to help – or not. First, heating and holding milk at 180°F is pasteurization so it no longer qualifies as raw milk, actually anything over 140°F. Raw milk ferments naturally (promoting the good stuff) and does not spoil, no matter how long you leave it out – it just becomes something else. It is actually more dangerous for you to leave pasteurized milk on the counter top – than the other way around. Room temp (68°F) is actually the low end of the scale for activating lactose bacterium. The thermophilic bacteria which makes yogurt (Streptococcus thermophilus) grows at higher temps – letting it incubate 24-36 hrs at 110°-113° is ideal. I use my roaster (temp control) and water bath over night- works just fine. Also because goat milk has less “cream” (fat – naturally homogenized) goat yogurt is thinner. I let my milk sit at room temp until the cream comes to the top, skim it off, and add that to my yogurt milk batch to help thicken. I was once where you are – so I hope I don’t sound too “know-it-allish” – just trying to help.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Bert,
    No problem! I do understand that I pasteurize my poor raw milk when I heat it to 180, but it’s the only way I’ve gotten a thick yogurt. I’m starting to think I should try again and culture at 90-100 instead of 110. If you’re still looking for cheese/yogurt info, you might be interested in this course: https://rl102.infusionsoft.com/go/dairyecourse/ks/
    Thanks! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Bert Reply:

    Thanks for the link. I make all these things already and enjoy it very much. However, I get a bit tied of having to buy plain yogurt or starter culters (mother cultures only last so long). I want to take my raw milk and without adding anything – just natuarl fermentation develope yogurt starter. I can do this for buttermilk, but haven’t found a method for yogurt. Many cheeses reguire yogurt /thermophilic starters. My goal is 100% natural – nothing from the store.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Nikki Reply:

    Sorry for jumping on a different topic but how in the world do you make the buttermilk??? I’ve been searching for months to no avail! If you do figure out how to make yogurt naturally as you’d like…please share!! I am all ears :-)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Casey Reply:

    Bert,

    Thank you so very much for posting!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Bert Reply:

    Your welcome. Its interesting to see the other side. I was raised on a farm and still live on one today. Always had fresh dairy products. The first time I had store yogurt was in college and my reaction was “what is this stuff and how can they call it yogurt?” To me it was too thick and pasty – LOL!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Bert,

    Thank you for your post. I found on another blog where they were talking about making raw milk yogurt and one poster said she has been making raw milk yogurt for years simply by taking the raw milk and putting it in her convection oven on the drying cycle which is 100 degrees and it has always come out great! She wrote the only time she uses a starter is when she uses store bought pasturized milk. I always wondered how they discovered the first batch of yogurt. It seems to me that in the warmer climates the milk must have just naturally did it’s thing and turned into yogurt. Reading these posts it seems that the more yogurt starter that is used with raw milk the more whey and runniness that is created. I always thought that milk left out on the counter would do nothing but curdle, but maybe that is just with pasturized milk. Maybe the key is to not use any starter and let it naturally culture in a consistant low temp environment such as a dehydrator or convection oven if you have one. It probably will never be as thick as store bought yogurt, but I can deal with that if it is more beneficial raw. I guess it’s a good reason for me to travel abroad and see how real yogurt is suppose to taste! :-)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kelly Reply:

    Jennifer, I have found that using the powdered starter culture does not work for my raw goat milk. I’ve tried a few times and it never sets/forms or whatever that term is. I used twice what was called for just to see if it helped, but it didn’t. However, when I use a cup of yogurt (I use Brown Cow plain cream top) I get a thick, rich yogurt. The 1 cup incubates 2 qts of milk. I then save a cup of that to make the next batch, etc.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Kelly, thanks for the tips. I will give it a try. I currently use the cream top Maple Hill Creamery brand so I will try using the 1 cup to 2 quarts ratio and see how it works. The only difference is I will be using raw cow’s milk so I am not sure if that will make a difference on the final outcome. I am still debating on boiling the milk or just slightly heating the milk just to get the culture started. Reading that link on raw milk yogurt that Vegetable Garden Cook linked to makes me a bit nervous now to keep my yogurt raw. I am a bit confused now as My family and I have been consuming raw 100% grassfed cow milk from a very trusted farm and have loved it and healed many of our ailments on it. We feel blessed to have such a great farmer who takes such great care of his animals. He only milks his cows once a day that way the calves can stay with their mothers longer. He knows this produces milk that has less cream in it, but it is more important for him to keep his cows healthy. In his twenty five years of farming he has only lost one calf and that was because the mother became sick. He has very happy and healthy cows. :-) I am now worried about the whole bacteria and raw yogurt issue though that Vegetable Garden Cook presents. Not sure what to think now!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Tammy Reply:

    Go with your experience, not someone’s negative opinion. I would not change what you know is working just because someone else has issues with it or does something different, you have to do what has been working and still is working for you family! Don’t let fear change that!

    One thing to others though, I would never used powder milk to thicken it, that is defintely WAY bad………. :o(

    [Reply to this comment]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Thanks Tammy! You are right! I should go with what has worked for my family and I. I just turned 30 this February and was diagnosed with severe Osteoporosis. After being a raw vegan and following for two years the 80/10/10 diet promoted by Douglas Graham the diet completely destroyed my bones. I suffered 12 compression fractures and lost 3.5 inches of height. Ever since then I have been trying to get my health back by eating nutrient dense foods. I was led to believe animal products rob our bones, but from my own experience that is not the case. It was only until I started eating animal products and getting plenty of protien that my bones are really starting to heal. I just hope everyone else follows their own instincts and not what someone else tells them to be true. I learned the hard way! Now I have even more respect for animals than I ever did being vegetarian and then vegan. They are literally saving my life and I am so greatful to them!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Jennifer,
    Wow! What a testimony to the value of a balanced, “real” diet. Incredible. Thank you for teaching me something new… Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Thank you Katie for letting me share my experience with you and others! :-)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kelly Reply:

    I hadn’t read her link until you pointed it out. She’s allowed to have an opinion. I’m allowed to totally disagree with it. Thousands of years passed w/o pasteurizing milk and it didn’t kill off the population. The stats from the CDC don’t support her belief. The stats I have seen show that pasteurized milk is far more dangerous than raw milk. A few stories I have read indicate that the claims that raw milk caused any illness are never certain-simply assumed. As in no tests were done, or results were inconclusive.

    As for the argument that leaving raw milk under incubation allows for toxin growth, what happened all those years before electricity and refrigeration were available? My personal belief system says that God created a perfect world and that all that was in it was good. We allowed sin to enter and therefore there are bad things here also. However, if we’re taking an animal God created and using the milk produced by said animal, it just has to be better than anything man can try to do to improve it.

    Tammy said it well though, do what’s best for your family and don’t let fear mongering sway you. Do your own research and arrive at your own conclusions. Have a happy day!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Kelly,
    Love this: “God created a perfect world and that all that was in it was good. We allowed sin to enter and therefore there are bad things here also. However, if we’re taking an animal God created and using the milk produced by said animal, it just has to be better than anything man can try to do to improve it.”

    Thanks! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Kelly,

    You make excellent points and that is why I felt safe consuming raw dairy in the first place.Your right, God makes no mistakes! I feel safe in trusting in what God has provided. Thank you for the reminder! Now I am off to give that raw yogurt a try. :-)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jessica

    I just made my first batch of raw milk yogurt this week, I’d call it mostly a success. I heated to 100F, turned off heat, let sit until it settled around 105F. I mixed half of store bought plain yogurt (no exact measurement here), poured into 6 yogurt jars & 1 small jam jar (I broke the 7th yogurt jar, been using a small jam jar since then), put in my Salton yogurt maker, and let it incubate for 8 hrs.

    the yogurt jars had a thick, almost cream cheese, layer on top, and thin lumpy tangy yogurt beneath that. The Jam jar looked like your photos, lots of whey! I put them all in the fridge overnight to firm up.

    I ended up mixing all the yogurt jars together, into a cheesecloth lined strainer, and let drain in the fridge for a couple hours. I got alot of whey, which I’ll use to make bread. I then stirred the thickened yogurt, which smoothed out the lumps. It’s been good w/ homemade granola & honey for breakfast.

    I’ll give it another go, I’d like to get it less lumpy! (which is what lead me to this post, for any tips – which has been helpful)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Leah

    I make raw milk yogurt (heated only to 110 or so) with ABY-2C yogurt culture from http://www.dairyconnection.com. It thickens the yogurt more than any other culture I have tried and has a nice mild flavor. It still isn’t nearly as thick as store bought yogurt, but the flavor is similar.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Erin

    I just made raw milk yogurt for the first time and the same thing happened to me as happened to you: thick on the bottom, whey on top. Was there still anything you could do to eat it or use some of it or do I need to pitch the whole thing?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Carlyn Reply:

    I would still use it in cooking or baking (anything calling for sour milk should work fine) or in smoothies.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin Reply:

    Thanks!! I should have checked back here before I did what I did… I called Mom who gave the advice to taste it. I did, it was awful, quite sour so I pitched it, which was probably the right thing to do because I wouldn’t eat a bowl with fruit like usual except I never thought to use it in baking!! I could have made a version of my buttermilk bread! Oh well…I’m sure I’ll screw up another batch eventually. :) THANKS!!! :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Vegetable Garden Cook

    Please read my article on raw milk yogurt. http://www.mysuburbanhomestead.com/thoughts-raw-milk-yogurt/

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    VGC,
    The probiotics in both the raw milk AND the yogurt cultures do a great job of ensuring that unhealthy bacteria can’t have room to reproduce. Since milk was not pasteurized until the last century, I can’t imagine that raw yogurt can be quite so harmful as you make it seem. The age-old technique for storing fresh milk beyond a few hours was simply to let it “clabber” over a day or two at room temperature. It separates into whey and a thicker substance, like cream cheese or yogurt depending on how much whey you drain off. Then it can be store at a cooler temperature, safely, for quite some time. The clabbering process allows the good bacteria in the raw milk to reproduce. The bad guys? Kicked out. If you were a regular reader, it would make more sense for you to be sharing links, but it seems self-promotional for you to pop in just to say “visit my site” even though you are disagreeing with my post.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Nikki

    Katie, I made raw milk yogurt by accident! Twice now! And when I realized what I’d done, I’ve been so excited to tell you. I’ll just report exactly what I did, and you can see if any of this helps.

    I didn’t want to buy a thermometer and for whatever reason didn’t want to use an ice chest, either. I Googled for other ideas and found that you can just wrap the jar in a blanket and leave it in a (cold) oven overnight. Also, the site suggested only ONE tablespoon yogurt per quart of milk.

    Anyhow, I poured the milk in a pot rather than heating in the jars. Once it had a slight skin to it, just barely wrinkling, I took it off the heat, skimmed off the skin, and waited for it to cool. I was surprised at how soon I could put my finger in, but I didn’t think much about it that first time. The site suggested scooping out some of the milk with a mug and dissolving the T of yogurt in that first, so I did and then stirred it back into the pot and used a funnel to pour it into my jar. I screwed on the lid, wrapped it in a blanket, placed it in my oven, and the next morning had yogurt! It pours but is thick and tastes BETTER than the store yogurt. It also lasted just fine for a week or more without separating.

    Last night I did it a second time, and this time I got brave and stuck my finger in when the skin formed. It wasn’t hot! Just warm. So apparently my milk forms a skin (very very thin, barely wrinkling on the surface) before 118 degrees, which means my yogurt was raw. I repeated my steps, this time without waiting for it to cool at all, and got the same beautiful, fantastic yogurt again!

    In case it helps, I should also mention that I used Stonyfield organic yogurt at the recommendation of the site that mentioned the blanket. I have not yet tried reusing the homemade one for the next batch (because I accidentally dropped flour on my last two tablespoons of it!).

    I hope this will help you or others! I’m also wondering if heating it in a pot rather than the jars helped, but I don’t know which steps made the difference.

    Happy Easter! :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Nikki,
    What a fun experiment with great results! Love those happy kitchen accidents. Now I really want to try Stonyfield yogurt… I wonder if the low-key, possibly lower incubation temp helped? My theory is that raw yogurt likes a lower incubation temp, like 100F or so. Thank you so much for sharing! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Mary P

    You are awesome, Katie! Thanks for keeping at this–it gave me the motivation to finally try. We had an extra gallon of raw milk (which was almost 1/3 cream–yumm!!) so I gave your last update a go. Voila! Raw milk yogurt that is just slightly tangy & totally easy!! I used Trader Joe’s European plain whole milk yogurt for the starter (since thats what all my kiddos like). I don’t have a dehydrator, so I warmed my oven on the lowest setting for 5 min & checked my oven thermometer, then wrapped the jars in baby diapers & let them sit in there for about 24 hours (I forgot they were there–ha!). I’m dripping the whey right now. :) Thank you!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • lela

    why all the hassle with heating the milk?
    I just pour raw milk in a bowl, put a cheesecloth over it and let it sit for 3/4 days and voila you have yogurt. Ok there is more liquid in it, then store bought yogurt because of the whey, but that is good for you anyway. The other option is to simply strain the whey a little bit.
    I don’t see the need for a starter either, but if you re-use the same bowl where you ‘made’ the yogurt in and not clean it out the leftover yogurt that’s in it will help the new batch of raw milk ferment quicker.

    Just ate some with passion fruit and honey, mmmm

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Lela,
    True, you can let raw milk clabber, but there aren’t quite as many beneficial bacteria as in raw milk, and the flavor would be totally different. Yes, it would be absolutely best to allow the probiotics already in the raw milk to stick around and just heat the milk to 110F to incubate the yogurt, but my family doesn’t like the texture quite as much, and if they’re not eating it, they’re not getting the good stuff in them. ??? I have had some success with raw yogurt in the dehydrator when there’s really a constant temperature happening. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Michelle

    I wish I would have read this post BEFORE attempting raw milk yogurt last night for the first time. I used directions from a friend, but mine is runny, runny, runny and not at all very tasty. What on earth should I do with it?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Oh, dear, Michelle, you caught me when I was way buried on my comments; I’m so sorry! for future reference, you can always strain the yogurt for whey and yogurt cheese, then sweeten the yogurt cheese for a recipe or make a dip with lots of garlic to overcome the “not so tasty” raw milk yogurt tang, OR just use it in smoothies or baking (like soaked baked oatmeal or something). Good luck next time! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Maria

    I’ve been making raw milk yogurt for about a year with good success. I put one gallon in a crock pot on low for 2.5 hours, then turn it off and let cool for 2.5 hours.

    I stir in about 8 oz of plain yogurt (can be store bought if no additives other than pectin, or from last batch I made) with a spoon that has been run under very hot water for about 30 seconds (so as not to introduce any new bacteria that would compete).

    I leave it sit for about 20 hours and it is oh so good. It will definitely be runnier than store-bought because it does not have thickener, but we like it.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Soccy Reply:

    Do you place the milk directly into your crockpot or do you put it in jars and then in a water bath in the crockpot? When you let the crockpot sit, is it turned off with the lid on? Also, how can I flavor it (vanilla)? Thanks.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Rae

    I have a yogurt maker, but am thinking about using my rice maker to see how it works (It has a “warm” setting). Can’t have too many ways to make yogurt right? (Love all the rich treasure of information here!) With Light, RAE

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Soccy

    I just bought a yogurt maker at the local thrift store and am excited to try making our yogurt. We go through 2-3 quarts a week, so I’m hoping this will save us $$ and make us healthier. We get raw milk from our co-op and I just wanted to be clear on directions. First, I should heat up the milk (1 quart) to 110 degrees. Second, swirl in 2 TB of plain yogurt (seven stars original plain). Third, place in yogurt maker at 100 degrees for 7-8 hours. Fourth, place in refrigerator until is sets up. Must I strain the yogurt after that or can I just eat it? Also, how do I flavor it? We love vanilla yogurt and strawberry was a favorite when we bought the commercial stuff.
    thanks Katie. Your site and research has blessed our family in so many ways. Thank you.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Soccy,
    Sounds about right! I don’t have a yogurt maker, so my method is slightly slightly different. You won’t have to strain it, unless there’s too much whey. Vanilla extract (1 tsp./qt.) is awesome, and we love it with any frozen fruit.

    A few ideas: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/01/12/kitchen-tip-eat-plain-yogurt-with-little-or-no-sweetener/

    And the full method: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/04/13/monday-mission-homemade-yogurt-the-easy-way/

    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Krystal

    Here is a quick easy yogurt method we have been using. Take 1/2 gallon raw milk with cream and heat on stove to 160 degrees. Remove from heat and cool to 100 degrees. Add about 1 cup yogurt (we use greek god original) stir and place in oven heated to 200 degrees. turn oven off and wait 12-24 hours. That is it! Super easy. Great with fruit, honey, etc. Can be kind of runny sometimes and I’m not sure why, but if that happens we use it for smoothies.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Eve

    I have enjoyed reading through the comments here! Here’s what I have done that worked for me.

    I just made yogurt with raw milk last night. I used a packet of Yogourmet starter because, well, it was my first batch and I wanted to see how it would work. I’d like to try it next time with plain whole milk yogurt as a starter and see how that works for me.

    Anyway, here’s how I made mine: I heated 4 cups of raw milk in a clean pan on the stove for just 5 minutes on low until the milk was about 112′. Then, I let the milk cool (just a few minutes) until it registered 108′ or so on the candy thermometer. I took out a small amount of the warmed milk in a cup and gently stirred in the Yogourmet starter with a clean spoon until thoroughly mixed, then gently swirl that mixture into the pan of warm milk.

    I poured that into my Salton yogurt maker that was already plugged in and warmed up (makes 1 quart), put the cover on, and wrapped a towel around just for fun, and left it overnight warming.

    In the morning, it was nice and warm and set up perfectly! Thicker than even some of the storebought Organic yogurt I have purchased in the past. There was about 1/2 c whey on top, which I drained off and stored for use later for other recipes.

    I am so excited to know it’s easy to do, not time consuming at all, and I calculate this could save us at least $10 for every 6 quarts I make, even using Organic/raw milk–our family really likes yogurt! Sweet!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • farmer_liz

    I can’t believe I didn’t see this post earlier in the year, I’ve struggling with raw milk yoghurt since we got our dairy cow in May last year. I gave up after too many separated whey disasters! But now I have a few more tips to try from your post, I’ll have another go. Thanks, Liz

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jana

    I am making yogurt with raw milk for the second time. This time, instead of the crock pot method, I’m trying leaving it on the counter next to the oven while I bake bread.
    I wondered, since I’m not heating the milk, can I just add the yogurt at the beginning, instead of waiting for the milk to come to room temp? Since both the milk and the yogurt are frigerated, it seems like that would be the simpler, less-things-to-remember thing to do! :)
    Thanks for all your ideas, help and inspiration! I am loving everything I’ve found on your blog. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Jana,
    I don’t see why not…although store yogurt usually does need to get to 100-110F or so to incubate, unless being next to your stove gets it that hot. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • D Hopkins

    If I accidentally left my yogurt on the counter over night do you think it’s rancid, or should I take the chance and eat it? I hate to throw it away. Made from raw milk in the crock pot. It’s end time was 9pm. It’s been on the counter about 10 hours???
    Help!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship

    D, clearly I’m too late to be of any practical help here (I got bogged down), but your nose knows! In general, cultured foods are more tolerant of room temp than other foods. I leave my yogurt hanging for yogurt cheese for 4-8 hours, so 10 is not that much of a stretch. What did you end up doing?
    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • D Hopkins

    I ended up using it and it was a little bit thicker which I liked and a little bit more tart. Not bad at all. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Alexia Graves

    I read your instructions about making yogurt and think they are too complicated. I make homemade raw yogurt almost daily as my family eats that much. I take a gal. of raw goat milk and warm it up in hot water in the kitchen sink. Then I take a couple heaping soup spoons full of cultured yogurt (I use stonyfield) and mix it until smooth in a glass liquid measure. then I add a ladel of the milk to the yogurt and mix that until smooth. After it’s mixed, I add it back to the jar of milk and stir. While that’s warming, I warm up some water in a liquid measure and pour into my crockpot that is set on warm, not low. I place my gal. jar into the crockpot, fill to the top of the croc with warm water and place a bowl over it for a lid. I leave it on warm for about 12-24 hrs. Then I drain it through muslin over night or all day. When it is done, it is thick, smooth and creamy. It is almost the consistency of sour cream. I sweeten it with a little honey and we eat it with fresh fruit for dessert.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Baking fool

    All this temperature stuff is too much for me – I don’t have air conditioning and live in an old, drafty house, so keeping an even temp is tricky. Why I now make kefir from kefir grains. Works better for me. I’ll drain it to make something yogurt like or drain more to make cheese. I really need to see whether raw milk is available anywhere near me.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Elizabeth

    I actually started making yogurt based on a recipe in Joy of Cooking. I use 1 gal of raw milk and heat it to 185, then cool to 110. I add 3 Tbs previous batch yogurt (I always make another batch when I’m on the last container), stir, then put the lid on the pot, wrap it in dish towels and place it in my electric oven with the light on. 24-30 hours later, it is fabulous every time!

    However, I am thinking that I will try just bringing it to the 110 mark and proceeding – it sounds like it works and you end up with raw yogurt – even better. Very excited for the new idea!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Judi Turner

    I can’t believe how much I’ve learned reading all of these posts and the site in general! Thanks to everyone! I was looking to see if anyone had used a countertop roaster or a dehydrator to culture yogurt, and then someone mentioned trying their rice cooker. Now I’m off to put water into my rice cooker to check the temperature. :-)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Judi,
    I’m so glad you found help here! I have used a dehydrator to culture yogurt, and it works really well (105F or so). I have an Excalibur so I can take out the trays. And a lot of people use the slow cooker, either with the milk in the cooker itself or jars sitting in warm water on low. I like the cooler method partly because it’s energy-free, but it’s more variable, so it depends what your needs are. Good luck!! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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