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Monday Mission: Homemade Yogurt, the Easy Way

It might sound scary, but making homemade yogurt is quite simple! I’ll give you step-by-step instructions and a yogurt troubleshooting guide to make sure you have yogurt success!

How to Make Homemade Yogurt The Easy Way

It’s a Choose Your Own Adventure Monday Mission today…Find your yogurt profile below, and take one (maybe two?) step forward.

  • I don’t eat yogurt…Your challenge is to try to find some way to eat yogurt that you like! I found that starting with a plain vanilla worked for me. Put your favorite breakfast cereal on top if you have to – the yogurt is even healthier than the milk you’d usually use. Check out the serving suggestions below the recipe for other ways to incorporate yogurt into your meal planning.
  • I eat run-of-the-mill sweetened yogurt cups…Try buying a 32 oz. tub of yogurt…you’ll save money and have less packaging waste to recycle.
  • I buy big tubs of vanilla yogurt…Move on to plain yogurt, and use fresh or frozen fruit and your own sweetener. You’ll find that you can probably use less total sugar than the presweetened storebought brands. You might even try honey or real maple syrup to avoid refined sugar.
  • I use plain yogurt and add fresh fruit…You’re ready to make your own, baby! Move on to the directions…

Yogurt is a foundational Kitchen Stewardship® recipe because it saves SO much money, improves your nutrition SO much and really is quite easy. (Broth is the first.) I think everyone should make homemade yogurt! You can even make Instant Pot yogurt.

NOTE: Yogurt recipe ideas and 30 other Healthy Snacks to Go recipes now available as an eBook!

Healthy Snacks To Go eBook

If taking real food on the go is a challenge for you, you’re not alone.

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With over a dozen different “bar” recipes alone, including many that are grain-free and contain zero refined sugar, I guarantee you’ll find a new family favorite in Healthy Snacks to Go.

How to Make Homemade Yogurt The Easy Way

Why Make Homemade Yogurt?

I’ll bet a lot of people are apprehensive about making homemade yogurt for a variety of reasons:

  1. too much time
  2. too complicated
  3. afraid it won’t work out
  4. growing bacteria just sounds scary and dangerous

My job is to dispel all your fears and teach the no dishes, no fuss way to make homemade yogurt. Here’s your motivation:

  1. At current prices of $2-6/gallon for milk and $2-4 per 32 oz. tub of plain yogurt, I save $6-14 every time I make a gallon of yogurt, which I do almost every week. That’s over $700 a year off my food budget just by making homemade yogurt, about 1.5 gallons per week. (Yes, we eat it that often.)  More if organic! Click HERE for the breakdown and more budget tips.
  2. Nutritionally, I can be totally in charge of the ingredients. No high fructose corn syrup or fake foods for my family. Just the health benefits of yogurt, thank you!
  3. Environmentally, I save about 200 32 oz. plastic tubs from going into landfills or being recycled every year.
  4. If you compare to the little plastic presweetened cups, the savings are immeasurably greater in every category.
    exclamation_32x32For example, the last time I read the nutrition facts on a 6 oz. yogurt cup, it contained about 45 grams of sugar. One teaspoon of sugar has 4 grams, and an 8 oz cup of milk has 12. I don’t think I could add enough fruit to make 45, so I guarantee you can cut your sugar intake…significantly…by using plain yogurt!

The Perfect Easy Homemade Yogurt

How Much Time Does It Take to Make Homemade Yogurt?

Grand Total15 minutes active work, an hour and a half that you’ll need to be at home.

  • 5 minutes to pour milk into jars
  • a few minutes over the next 20 minutes to check on the temperature
  • a few minutes to move the jars to cool them
  • wait an hour and a half or more
  • 5 minutes to stir in the starter and put them to incubate
  • a few minutes to get the jars in the freezer and then the fridge

How Complicated Is It?

The basic steps:

  1. Heat to sterilize the milk. (185 degrees)
  2. Cool milk to proper incubation temperature. (90-110 degrees)
  3. Add starter yogurt.
  4. Incubate at warm temperature 4-24 hours.

**If you have raw milk and want to make raw yogurt, click HERE.

Let’s get started. There are a bunch of ways to do this, but here’s the easiest method, in my opinion. I realize this post looks very long, but it’s just because I want to hold your hand through every step to take the fear out of the process, which is really simple once you read through this and try it once.

Hear ye, hear ye, visual learners! I have a video of this super simple, no dishes homemade yogurt method as a guest lecture in the GNOWFGLINS Cultured Dairy & Cheesemaking eCourse. Enrollment is open continually and the yogurt lesson is up mid-March. You can view all 40+ weeks of past courses as well! Click HERE for more info.
I also created an update with more photos and streamlined steps. Here’s the new homemade yogurt picture tutorial along with a yogurt troubleshooting guide!

Supplies necessary:

  • Glass jars (quart wide mouth canning jars or empty mayo or spaghetti sauce jars work great)
  • Milk (any, from skim to whole)
  • Candy thermometer, but I can show you how to do it without one too
  • Pot large enough to hold your glass jars
  • 2 Tbs of plain yogurt per quart of milk (Buy the freshest yogurt possible at a store and make sure it has “live and active cultures”. I prefer Dannon. I know it has the three top cultures that I’m looking for to help the gut. The little cups are often on sale for 40-50 cents.)
  • picnic cooler
  • bath/beach towel
  • timer

Prep:

  • Run jars and lids through the dishwasher to sterilize. They should be totally dry before capping. I let them air dry completely on top of my toaster oven. If you’re a real baby stepper, just put this step on your to-do list for this week, along with “print and read yogurt directions”. Then NEXT week you can tackle “make yogurt” on a day of your choosing! {As long as your jars have been thoroughly cleaned, absolutely completely dried out, and then capped, I wouldn’t worry too much about the bacteria…but don’t take my word on it.}
  • Get out picnic cooler and clean bath towel.

How to Make Homemade Yogurt, the Easy Way

The very first time you make yogurt will take a little more attention because you’ll have to check temperatures to figure out the timing. After that, it’s a piece of cake!

  1. Put your sink washcloth in the bottom of the pot. This will prevent the jars from breaking if they start shaking when the water boils (especially if you forget about them). Added bonus: You know how sometimes even after washing your dishrag, it still smells sour? This will knock the stink right out!
  2. Pour milk into your jars to about an inch from the top.
  3. Place jars into the pot and fill the pot with tap water around the jars.
  4. Put a candy thermometer on the edge of the pot. Heat on high until boiling (now your thermometer is sterilized). Sometimes I put a spoon in there too so I know it’s sterile for stirring the yogurt starter in.
  5. Move the thermometer into one of the jars; turn heat to medium-low or so, just enough to keep the water boiling.
  6. When the milk is at about 185 (you can’t burn it with this method, so if you forget it for a while, it’s OK!) turn off the heat and put lids on the jars.
    The no-thermometer method:  When a “skin” appears on the top, you’re at temp. Just scoop the skin off and throw it in the sink.
  7. Remove the jars of milk to cool in the refrigerator on the counter. {I used to cool jars in the fridge, but I realized that it was raising the temp of my fridge, and that’s not good for the rest of my food!} Optional: Take starter yogurt out and let it sit on the counter. This ensures that it’s not too cold when you mix it into the warm milk. You can also cool the milk in a sinkful of cold water with ice or ice packs if you’re in a hurry. It works in about 20-30 minutes with water just halfway up the sides of the jars at my house. {In the winter, I put the jars in my cold garage.}
  8. Put a lid on your pot of boiling water and arrange the towel in the cooler so you can put the pot in there without melting anything, then close the lid, towel, and all.
  9. Your goal is to get the milk down to about 100 degrees. Incubation happens between 90-120 degrees, so you have decent wiggle room, but 100-112 is optimal. At my house, it takes at least 90 minutes on the counter, 50 minutes in the fridge, 20 in the sink. The first few times you make yogurt, you’ll figure out what your fridge can do. Keep your thermometer sterile and check after about 45 minutes, or leave the thermometer in the jar for the first time only and check at intervals, keeping in mind that opening the fridge will change the temperature in there just a bit, so adjust next time when you simply set the timer. I’ve found that I prefer the thickness of the yogurt better at ~100 degrees.
    No-thermometer method:  You can learn what the jars feel like from the outside. I’ve found that I can’t hold onto the jars with bare hands for more than a few seconds, it’s still too hot. Give it 5-10 more minutes and check again. 118 degrees is the temp at which enzymes and yogurt bacteria die. It’s also the temp at which humans say “ouch!”  God built in a way for us to know when our food is too hot for our health! Another way to check the temp of the milk is to use a clean spoon and drip a bit onto your wrist. You want it to feel warm, but not painful. Remember that your body temperature is about 98, and your goal is approximately 10 degrees higher. If you do have a thermometer, I would recommend the first few times to use it and your wrist so that you know what 110 feels like for future reference.*If you miss and it gets too cold, just heat it up again in the pot on the stove. It’s just milk at this point, so you’re not out anything!
  10. Stir in ~2 Tbs. plain yogurt for each quart of milk. Stir gently; remember that you’re dealing with living organisms and you don’t want to knock them senseless! More is not better; too much starter can make bad yogurt. Again, these living organisms need room to reproduce. If you ask too many to live together, it’s like making tenements, and living conditions aren’t as nice for your friendly bacteria!
  11. Get those lids on again and nestle your jars in the cooler next to the pot of hot water. Keep them wrapped in one-half of the towel and take the lid off the pot to let the heat out, then close the lid of the cooler to keep the heat in. Keep the cooler still, more or less. Jiggling will affect the consistency of the yogurt. Don’t let the kiddos “cooler-race” in the kitchen! If you have no room in your kitchen, put the cooler in another room and leave yourself a note to remind you when to take the yogurt out.
  12. You have to make a call on whether you check your yogurt temp every hour or so (you can add more boiling water to the pot if the temp is getting too low) or just let it go and see what happens. Keep in mind that again, when you open your cooler, you’re affecting the temperature. I would recommend leaving it alone, and as long as your cooler is tough enough to keep the heat in the first time, you will never have to babysit your yogurt. This is NOT rocket science!
  13. Incubate 4-24 hours. Shorter incubation makes sweeter yogurt, longer is more tart. Also, lower incubation temperature makes sweeter yogurt and higher makes it more tart. I’ve had good success between 4 and 8. I forgot it once when my goal was 4 hours and found I liked it better at 6. I forgot it once at 6 hours and found that 8 is fine, but I liked 6 better. More recently I read that after incubating a full 24 hours, almost all the lactose is eaten by the bacteria, making the yogurt extremely digestible. I tried leaving one jar for 24 hours, and it wasn’t too bad. I started shooting for about 16 hours for a while, but now since exploring a gluten sensitivity and Crohn’s related issues, all our yogurt incubates for 24 hours. Experiment to see what you prefer!
    Note:  If you incubate longer than 8 hours, I would recommend setting a teapot to boil and pouring the contents into your pot. For 24-hour-yogurt, I add boiling water before I go to bed and when I wake up in the morning. I’ve never “checked” on the temp of my yogurt – I prefer to leave it alone – and I’ve had no problems.
  14. When the time is up, put the jars into the freezer for about an hour. This improves the texture. No room in the freezer? (I did have a broken jar once when I put it directly into the ice.)  Just go right in the fridge. If you forget the yogurt in the freezer, it’s fine. Yogurt can freeze! Just thaw in your fridge.
    Note:  Don’t get too interested in what it looks like until the yogurt is cold. I have a feeling stirring, and definitely shaking, the jars at this point hurts the process.
  15. That’s it! You have created yogurt!

If this post overwhelms you, be sure to check out the Cliff’s notes picture tutorial HERE.

What Does It Look Like?

Most of the time, the finished product will have a yellowish “whey” around the thicker yogurt. This is normal! You can pour it off (into your soup, preferably – there’s protein in that whey!) or stir it in, depending on what consistency you want.

Homemade Yogurt Recipe and Troubleshooting
See the whey? Looks gross, but it’s just what you want!
Homemade Yogurt Recipe and Troubleshooting
8-hour yogurt on the left, 16-hour on the right. The 16-hour yogurt is a bit thicker, but not appreciably so.

The Easy Clean Up

Lay out your towel to dry and use it for your showers. Air dry your pot and cooler and put them away.  Your only “dishes” include a spoon and a thermometer (maybe). Nice!

When your yogurt is cooled and ready to eat, take out a few Tablespoons for a starter for your next batch. Store it in a clean container and date it (I use a glass baby food jar that has been through the dishwasher). Best practice is to take your starter out first so that it’s the least contaminated by folks dipping out yogurt throughout the week.

I’ve found that I can make a batch every one to two weeks or so and the starter is still plenty strong. I might buy a new starter at the store every two months. If my yogurt starts getting runny, especially twice in a row, I can solve it by buying a new starter.

Making homemade yogurt is a simple 4-step process. This method for how to make yogurt creates zero dishes and needs no special equipment. You could make it immediately!

Serving Suggestions

Breakfast, Lunch and Snacks…We like the plain yogurt at our house with a bit of sugar (about a tsp per serving) or honey and frozen fruit. Yum-O! When I sweeten a whole quart, I use about ¼ c. sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla. Remember to stir gently – if you whip up your yogurt too hard, it will remain runny. Here are some ways I enjoy plain yogurt without any sweeteners.

Sour Cream Sub…Plain Yogurt can substitute in any recipe that calls for sour cream.

Smoothies…Add milk, fresh or frozen fruit, maybe a few ice cubes, and blend. A snack or a dessert! Green smoothies are all the rage right now. I use half yogurt and half milk with the fruit, and my boys think a frozen banana really makes it great!

Bake with it…you can use yogurt instead of milk in biscuits, cornbread, and pancakes. I also just read that you can replace some of the butter or oil in muffin or brownie recipes and all of the fat in cake mixes.

Dips and dressings…Add chopped cucumber and dill weed to plain yogurt and eat as a salad or with grilled meat. I’ll share some more recipes later in the week.

Yogurt definitely keeps well for two weeks, probably longer, but it does get more tart with age.

A Note on Skim vs. Whole Milk

For the first 3 years of my yogurt making, I used skim milk and added powdered dry milk to thicken it up. After doing more research on dairy, I’m pretty convinced that skim milk, which has powdered milk added to it anyway, is pretty bad for you. (Here’s the explanation of that: oxidized cholesterol). However, if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool low-fat/no-fat kind of person and are going to use skim milk, add this step:

At 110 degrees, pour about ¼ cup (just dump some in) nonfat dry milk into each jar. This has 3 purposes:  added protein, added calcium, and it can thicken the finished product a bit.

Added bonus:  if you do choose skim or reduced fat milk for the adults in your family but have a child under two who requires whole milk, you can make different versions at the same time. Just label the top of your jars.

A Note on Organic Milk

Organic yogurt is a great step toward health for your family. Pesticides, chemical fertilizers, hormones, etc. are found in higher concentrations in animal products because the animals eat lots of grains or plant products to produce that one gallon of milk or one pound of meat. When making your own yogurt, however, it’s not recommended to use “ultra-high-temperature” pasteurized milk (UHT), which applies to most organic milk, definitely that sold in cardboard cartons. Here is an explanation of why. If you have the money to buy organic milk, I’d highly recommend looking into getting it from a local farm. See www.realmilk.com for more.

Safety Notes

  • Remember that you’re dealing with bacteria here and asking it to multiply on purpose. Be aware of introducing naughty bacteria into your milk/yogurt.
  • While the milk is being sterilized, try to keep the inside of the lids out of the air (bacteria-city). I just put them facing each other on the counter.
  • If your stirring spoon can come right out of the hot dishwasher, kudos to you. Some people put a spoon into a clean plastic bag when they take it out of the dishwasher if they know they’re making yogurt soon. Or, you can put it in the pot of boiling water and use tongs to get it out.
  • Wash your hands well at every step!
  • Think about where you set your candy thermometer while the milk is cooling if you need to use it to check for the 110 degrees.

Note:  I have loosened up a lot over the years on my bacteria-consciousness. I still wash my hands before doing each step, but you ought to do that whenever you’re cooking anyway. Just keep things clean and don’t worry. This isn’t rocket science! You’ll know by the smell if the bacteria is wrong in the finished product.

Easy Homemade Yogurt

Yogurt Troubleshooting

Why is my Homemade Yogurt Watery?

  • Yogurt got too cool while incubating (bacteria inactive)  I’m pretty sure this is not a big deal as long as the yogurt is at the proper temp for at least the first four hours.
  • Milk too hot when starter stirred in (bacteria dies)  This one is a deal breaker!
  • Stirred too hard when introducing starter
  • Weak starter – buy new yogurt at the store
  • What to do with failure? There’s nothing wrong with runny yogurt. Stir in some unflavored gelatin (use the coupon KS10 for 10% off!) and use it anyway or be creative with runny half-milk, half-yogurt. Smoothies, anyone? Use it in baking like you would milk, or make cream of vegetable soup. If your yogurt incubated WAY too hot, it’s pretty much just milk. Make hot chocolate and try again tomorrow!

Why is my Homemade Yogurt Grainy?

  • This is my most common problem. I really believe the freezer step helps guarantee a creamier consistency. I also think the precise temperature when you stir in the starter may make a difference here, but I haven’t pinpointed exactly how to make perfect yogurt every time. Also make sure you’re not overdoing the amount of starter. Just 2 Tbs! Sometimes just stirring gently will help out with this problem.

Why is my Homemade Yogurt Sour?

  • Too much starter
  • Incubated too hot or for too long for your taste

Why is my Homemade Yogurt Stinky?

  • Introduced bad bacteria into yogurt, then let it multiply. Throw away this batch and be more careful next time!

Why do I Have Slimy Yogurt?

  • This can also be from bad bacteria in the yogurt. Throw it away.

Need more help yogurt troubleshooting?

Who Should Make Their Own Yogurt?

Best of luck to all of you! I’m convinced that everyone should make homemade yogurt, if you eat it at all. I used to think you had to be an at-home-mom or have time on the weekends, but now that I’ve successfully cultured 24-hour-yogurt, I really think anyone could do it, even if you work all day long. Just start the yogurt while you’re making dinner, add boiling water before bed and in the morning during breakfast, and remove the yogurt after work the next day. You could also just incubate overnight and put in the freezer in the morning. I have accidentally left yogurt in the freezer overnight with no negative repercussions. You can do this! It’s NOT rocket science, it’s just a little food science that anyone who can make chocolate chip cookies (and I barely can do that!) can handle.

You can also make it even easier, incubating on the countertop if you try a Cultures for Health starter.

Yogurt Excuses

I really, truly believe that everyone can and should make their own homemade yogurt. Even if I was really rich and didn’t care a whit about my food budget, I’d probably still make this item homemade, because I can do it better than the factories (nutrition-wise, at the least).

Lots of people are afraid of this one. Here are some common excuses and my straight-up responses:

  1. I work all day, and even though yogurt doesn’t take that long to make, the steps are all spread out. I can’t fit it in!
    My response: You have two options to make homemade yogurt fit with your schedule. First, there’s always the weekend. I realize that’s not always possible, because sometimes weekends get awfully full, too. Second, if you start the process when you get home from work – let’s consider you a workaholic and it’s already 7 p.m. – you can put your jars into the cooler by 8:30 if you use the speedy cooling method and 10 p.m. at the latest if you let the milk cool on the counter. Incubate overnight, or even until you get home from work the next day (I prefer 16-20 hours, myself), and stick the jars in the fridge. Ta da! You’re done. Full-time work is no excuse.
  2. I’m single/a student/no one in my house eats yogurt except me. I can’t make huge batches and just let it go to waste!
    My response: This method is adaptable to any amount of yogurt that you can fit in a pot. I happen to make 4 jars (just less than a gallon) at a time, but my mom has just started making homemade yogurt using my method (way to go, Mom!) and makes just one jar at a time. You could make two cups if you wanted to. You decide the size and number of your jars. Anyone can make homemade yogurt!
  3. I don’t have a picnic cooler, so I can’t use your nifty method to incubate.
    My response: Lots of  people also think they need a yogurt maker to make yogurt, but I think that investment is not worth your money or space in your house. You can incubate yogurt in any place that will stay at about 100 degrees F for 6-24 hours. Many people can use an oven with the light on (check your temperature – mine is probably not warm enough, but others say theirs gets up to 140-150F!). You could also try wrapping the jars in towels with a hot water bottle(s) or even an electric heating pad. Some have had great luck with a slow cooker filled with water and kept on low with the lid off, and a friend of mine simply leaves the jars in her pot of water on the stove. You’ll have to check the temp the first few times you make yogurt, but once you understand the science of growing bacteria you can handle about any situation. Once I incubated yogurt all day in the sun on my back porch, then overnight in a warm car. It made the creamiest raw milk yogurt ever! You do not need fancy equipment to make homemade yogurt.
  4. I don’t know where to buy yogurt starter/cultures.
    My response: Trust me, any grocery store has some sort of plain yogurt for sale. Any plain yogurt will do, as long as it lists “live and active cultures” on the side (and I have yet to find one that didn’t). I’ve used Meijer brand, Dannon, and Fage Greek yogurt. If you can only find vanilla, give it a shot! Only fat-free? You’re using whole milk anyway (right???), so the fat free portion of the finished yogurt is so small it’s insignificant. You do not need fancy starters to make homemade yogurt.
  5. I use coupons, so I don’t need to make homemade yogurt to save money.
    My response: There are still two other reasons to make your own, and I bet in the long run it will still save you money. First, your family’s nutrition. Incubating your yogurt longer than 4 hours will decrease the milk sugars and increase the probiotics in the final product, which you can’t say about store yogurt. You also will avoid all sweeteners and other junk that might be added to the yogurt cups that are on sale with a coupon. Lastly, your family will eat more yogurt when you have it available in bulk, I guarantee it. More yogurt consumed = a healthier family. The second reason to make your own is to avoid wasting all those little (or big) plastic yogurt tubs. Making homemade achieves that in a big way. You save a lot more than money when you make your own.
  6. Will you come to my house and show me how? I think if I see if done just once, I will believe I can do it myself!
    Sure, I can do that…sort of. If you’re a really visual person (or a really nervous one), I will be presenting my method and all my thoughts on and love for homemade yogurt as part of the GNOWFGLINS eCourse on cultured dairy and basic cheesemaking, starting in February. My guest lecture is in March (note to self: tape yogurt making!), and you can access it at any time with any level of membership once it’s posted. You can check out the cultured dairy schedule HERE by scrolling down to the course description and clicking through for more info. As a side note, the “thank you video” for this month features my kids and I making Farmer’s Cheese, an unbelievably simple recipe and very cool science experiment. My kids are hilarious, and Paul had a great time explaining some of the process (trust me, you’ll laugh at his antics).
Are you ready to make homemade yogurt? Is something holding you back?

For more great ideas for the kitchen and balancing your nutrition, budget and earth, see these links:

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Monday Missions Baby Steps Back to Basics

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That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.

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Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

122 thoughts on “Monday Mission: Homemade Yogurt, the Easy Way”

  1. Not sure if you get notifications on old posts, but I use a heating pad to make my yogurt. Milk gets heated in a pan, stir in starter and pour into a couple of pyrex bowls. Set the bowls on the heating pad, medium temp, and cover all with a towel. I have found that 10 hours works well, so good to start early in the morning and yogurt is ready by the time I get home from work. I usually cool in the fridge and then strain to make it a Greek consistency.

    1. Susan,
      I do see all the comments, and thanks for this one! A good option to add to the post. 🙂 Katie

  2. Thank you so much for your detailed descriptions!!! I’m making yogurt for the first time today – I decided to forgo the yogurt maker because I could handle this! I love all the information and the reassurance if something goes “wrong.” I did let my yogurt get too cool in the sink… but it was okay! I have to wait until tonight to see how it turns out! But thank you for makign this process easier for me!

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  4. I know that there is an answer to this but I can’t seem to find it. I tried making yogurt this weeeknd in the cooler. 3 quarts full. I left it for the 24 hr. incubation. It smelled great that day, but its now soured. what did i do wrong and what can I do the next time to not have this happen again. Also, do you think its safe to save the whey from the jars. I can’t think about throwing all that down the drain, but also i don’t want to jeopardize giving myself and my children upset tummys. thanks Katie.

    1. Colleen,
      So when it first finished, it smelled (and tasted?) good, but after some time (how long?) in the refrigerator it smells sour (dangerous?)? Yogurt always has that fermented sour “tang” but I’m guessing that you think it’s seriously not good. My raw milk yogurt has quite a terrible smell, but it’s always been quite safe to eat…just not pleasant! I usually put it in smoothies.

      I guess my advice so far until you clarify the details is to trust your nose – maybe take a little taste. If it just separated, it’s probably still safe, esp if it really was in the fridge the whole time.

      Good luck! Katie

  5. Deanna West Piercy

    I have a yogurt maker with glass jars. I don’t have access to raw milk so I buy ultra-pasteurized organic milk (the best I have available to me). It doesn’t have to be scalded so all I have to do is mix it with a packet of starter and pour it into the jars. I then run the yogurt maker over night and it’s ready for the refrigerator in the morning. Couldn’t be easier.

  6. I accidentally left a gallon of organic milk ($6!) in the car overnight, and while it didn’t smell/look bad, I didn’t feel comfy drinking it. What to do… yogurt!
    Even though my candy thermometer was broken, I muddled through, and it totally worked! I feel like a mad scientist! I’m straining some for yogurt cheese now. Greek yogurt will be next. Lots of smoothies and cucumber salad are in the plans too. And a fresh batch of granola definitely needs to be made. Yum yum & yum!
    Thank you!!

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  9. I love this! I have been trying to find a good recipe for yogurt. I can’t wait to try it! I don’t like to buy the individual cups either, and had been buying a large container. I am looking forward to being able to make my own yogurt at a fraction of the cost!

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  11. Hi Katie,
    I have made yogurt two other times (once in the crockpot and another time with a hotpad) and was not happy with the texture. I made your recipe yesterday and it turned out perfect. I’ll be making it each week! Thanks!

  12. I have been making yogurt for a few months and the overall result has been very good. I make solid plain and solid flavored, liquid and also the liquid “actimel” kind too. Greek once in a while (just the extra step of straining). I am thinking of reducing the incubation time to reduce some of the whey on the solid yogurt. The most difficult is to add fruit – those haven’t turned out so well. I think it’s the acid in the fruit that is confusing the firming process, but it happens with both fresh and with jam-like preperations where fruit has been cooked with a bit of sugar. Not giving up on the fruit yet, but have has much better success in flavoring with tea bags (fruity teas), coconut milk, vanilla pod, cinamon stick, even chocolate!

    1. Hi Sandra,

      I have given up on making yogurt flavored with anything because I make so much at one time – usually a gallon. But then if you have a small family – we are down to just my wife and I now – it takes almost a week to get through a gallon of yogurt – and maybe you yourself might like eating the same flavored yogurt 7 days in a row, my wife and I do not.

      Hence, we just make plain yogurt and flavor it with jam or stir in a little powdered jello or add some chocolate syrup and stir it in. And if we decide to cook with it (we make muffins substituting the yogurt for the liquid) plain yogurt is the best starting point for us.

      But we do have nearly 60 different Lorann Oils & Flavoring liquids we bought to try out – just mix a drop or two into your serving of yogurt (we use an ice cream scoop to put it in the bowl) and gently stir it in – if you wait a while like overnight, it will distribute itself throughout the yogurt better!

      And of course, home-made granola sprinkled on top turns it into the “nectar of the gods!”

      Now this is not to say cinnamon or vanilla or even lemon couldn’t be used as a fairly neutral base to add other flavors to the servings. Now that I think of it, I will try cinnamon (what else can I do with all those cinnamon sticks sitting in a jar on the counter) the next batch I make in a day or so – we are down to 2 quarts yogurt and 1 pint Greek (strained) yogurt as I write.

      Thanks for you ideas,

      Bill

      1. I don´t know how much a quart/pint is, but I make 1L of flavored solid + 1L of liquid yogurt each week. That’s 8 small glass containers of solid and 5 x 200ml glass bottles. I also make 1L of plain solid every 2 weeks. Both my husband and I eat a lot of yogurt (2 a day, each) so the amount is not a problem and I flavor the solid and the liquid differently. My next fruty try is loquat – they’re in season now and my gran just gave me a big bag full. If it turns out too liquidy again I’ll just run it through the food processor and call it liquid yogurt 🙂

        1. Sandra,
          Solid meaning with some whey drained off, like Greek style? A quart is probably just less than a liter.
          Yum! 🙂 Katie

          1. Hi again,

            by solid I mean regular yogurt (to be eaten with a spoon as oposed to liquid yogurt). Greek style is a thicker version of the solid.

    2. Sandra,
      We always add fruit right before we eat, because I do think mixing anything in messes up the “gel” action. I make 24-hour incubated yogurt much of the time now, and as long as it stays at temperature, there’s hardly any whey. Shoot for 100F if you can – temps a bit too high can cause lots of whey, too. Hope that helps! 🙂 Katie

      1. Thanks! I had the feeling my yogurt maker was a bit too warm (it is a 30 year-old appliance I rescued from my mother-in-law’s basement). I’m going to try unplugging it after a 2 hours or so and leaving it covered with a towel over night. That should let the temp. mellow out a bit.
        I like plain yogurt with fruit mixed in and have it sometimes (especially greek style with kiwi – yum!). But my husband doesn´t like plain yogurt, even sweetened plain yogurt. Mixed-in fruit still tastes too much like the plain to him. Also, he usually has yogurt for mid-morning and mid-afternoon break at work. If he has to take the trouble to put the yogurt into a container, then peel and chop fruit into it before going to work in the morning…. he won’t. It has to be a single-serving, ready-to-go type thing. That’s why I make them in little glass jars with a screw-on metal cap (from the baby fruit purés my sister used to feed her daughter with).
        I’ll let you know how the loquat/coconut go. Next in line to try is ginger/cinamon…. The photos on the blog where I get these flavor combinations from show perfectly solid yogurts! I hope mine will be just as good 🙂 Check them out at http://nosoup-foryou.blogspot.com/, under “iogurtes”. The recipes are not in english but you can always enjoy the photos.

        1. I made a gallon of yogurt last night and I added a cinnamon stick while the milk was heating to 180F. The yogurt turned out a bit thin, but that was probably because I didn’t add enough powdered dry milk to the home made rice milk which was part of it. It tasted great and my wife even liked it with strawberry jam stirred into it. I will be making some Greek strained yogurt from it so we will have to see how that goes.

          Cheers!

      2. It worked! my first succesfull fruit yogurt – Loquat/coconut is wonderfull 😛
        It really is all about keeping the microbes happy but not toooo happy, I guess! The fuit was cooked (100ºC) with just a little bit of sugar. Mixed in with the milk, and kept at about 80ºC for 15 min. Let cool until about 40 -50ºC and added the starter. I used only half the starter (about 60g homemade plain yogurt) for 1L of milk. Mixed well and put to incubate in the yogurt maker for about 2-2,5 hours. Then I turned it off and covered with some towels for the night. This morning I put the yogurt in the fridge and this afternoon had my taste.
        It was great! creamy but no excess whey and no weird layering that I got from my other fruity attemps. 🙂
        I think all I needed was to slow the fermentation down a bit and I got that by using less starter and lowering the temperature.

        1. Hi Sandra,

          I have found when it comes to adding starter, less is better… otherwise too much starter, being basically acidic yogurt, can cause the dairy product like milk to separate into curds. Even tho the curds are tasty, they are what you expect for a cultured yogurt.

          And BTW, I made both cinnamon and cinnamon with ginger yogurt and we love it! Thank you for sharing that.

          Bill

  13. Hi ! Ty for the tutorial ! 🙂 I was wondering why you would throw away the “skin” … ? I thought it had to be included when storing.

    1. Erika,
      Since I store the jars with the lids on, I see no reason to keep the skin. It forms before you stir in the yogurt starter, so actually, it would get mixed into the yogurt if you didn’t toss it out. Sometimes I skip that step with no problem, but if you’re the lucky eater who gets the skin in their bowl, it’s just kind of a yucky texture to eat. Good question! 🙂 Katie

  14. Carrie from Denver Bargains

    Katie, I have a question about cleaning the jars. I’ve made yogurt “your way” twice and had great success, but I have one little problem: the jars have little dotted milk spots on the inside that are nearly impossible to get off.

    It’s exactly like what I used to see on the bottom of my pot when I heated the milk in the pot and then put it into jars. I LOVE making it directly into jars, but I’m finding that the time that saves is overshadowed by the time I spend trying to clean the “milk pitting” on the inside of the jars.

    Am I doing something wrong? Do you have any tips for cleaning them?

    1. Carrie,
      I get those too, but not every time. My DW handles them most of the time, so I’m lucky there. I’d recommend letting them soak in your dishwater after finishing dishes, then use a bottle brush – should take 20 seconds – and throw in the DW to finish.

      That said, good point about the time it takes! My theory is that the little dots happen when the milk is heated more than necessary, again, since I don’t get them every time. Maybe trying to get the milk jars out of the water a bit sooner or even letting them sit on the counter to come closer to room temp before heating. There’s got to be a way to avoid them at all costs, but I haven’t figured out the exact equation yet.

      Hope that helps! 🙂 Katie

      1. Carrie and Katie,

        I never get those spots and I think it is the way I prepare things before putting the jars into my yogurt maker:

        – After heating to 180 – 190F, I pour the milk directly into the jars FIRST. This does several things including heating the jars, sterilizing them and also making sure you have the right number of jars for the milk you have heated.

        – After a wait of at least 5 minutes (you can be putting the culture you will be using into your blender jar meanwhile) I pour the milk directly from the jars into a large stainless steel soup pot and place the pot in a dish-pan of cool, not cold water.

        – Whisking occasionally, when the temperature gets down around 120F or so, I pour some of the milk into my blender with the culture in it and blend it for at least 10 seconds. Remember, we are trying to distribute literally billions of bacteria evenly throughout the milk.

        – I pour the blended cultured milk back into the soup pot and whisk it vigorously for about 20 – 30 seconds. Again, the bacteria need to be well distributed throughout all the milk.

        – I strain all the cultured milk into a very large plastic pitcher and then pour it from the pitcher back into the warm jars. This straining is a very important step as it removes any gucky (technical word) stuff from the batch of cultured milk. It might also remove the stuff that is causing spots for some folks.

        – I put the jars into my yogurt maker and usually within 2 – 3 hours it is firmly set so I turn it off then.

        – When the jars are near room temperature, they go into the fridge.

        Voila, perfect yogurt every time. And no spots – although sometime I do get some clumping of the yogurt in the bottom of jars – it comes out easily with a rubber spatula.

        After using the yogurt, my jars go into the DW and they come out perfectly clean every time.

        And BTW, I have found if you use a bit of rice milk mixed with powdered dry milk with the whole or 1% milk, the yogurt turns out even better. Of course we make our own thick rice milk for pennies.

        And I just made another gallon last night – it is perfect… I usually like to keep a gallon and a half on hand – 2 gallons if you count the strained (Greek) yogurt we also keep in the fridge.

        Bill

        1. Bill,
          Just remember that the whole point of my post is to 1. not have to buy a yogurt maker and 2. use fewer dishes, hence heating the milk IN the jars. Your method with the pitcher and strainer sounds like a lot of dishes! No offense, but I’m just not ready to change my system.

          For health reasons, I incubate a full 24 hours most of the time as well. I also am pretty opposed to powdered dry milk for nutritional reasons.

          Katie

          1. Katie, you have a wonderful blog, thread, whatever you want to call it. And your ideas are great and help so many people get into the world of yogurt-making. I read many, many sources of ideas for yogurt making all the time and I have to say yours is one of the top ones if not the best. So I would never want to do anything to impact your readers in any way, shape or form.

            So in responding to your post to me, please, keep that in mind and that I appreciate so much what you are doing. Here goes:

            For my wife’s health reasons (she has been almost constantly bed-ridden for almost 4 years – does get up for doctors appointments and we do get out to some family gatherings now and again), I have ended up doing most of the chief cook and bottle washing stuff etc, etc, etc. So I am well aware of of how many dishes, pots and pans I have to put through the dishwasher. Fortunately it is a new one I put in myself so it is highly efficient and gets things done perfectly with little or no pre-washing like I had to do with the old one. Also, it uses less than half the water than the old one did. So running it as many as 3 times a day doesn’t faze me a bit. But I digress.

            So let’s talk for a moment about dish count and cleanliness. I use a pot, much like the one you put your jars in to bring to a tempering temperature – around 180 – 200F. Instead of heating the yogurt in it, I use it to cool the yogurt. And I use a blender to thoroughly mix the culture for the yogurt with some of the cooled, tempered milk. And I use a gallon pitcher to strain the mixed yogurt into – I tried putting the strained yogurt directly into jars, but when you are emptying a large soup pot full of cultured milk through a strainer, through a funnel into a quart jar, I found it was more of a challenge then I wanted to deal with… so easy to overflow the jar or spill some of the cultured milk. So I strain it directly into that cheap, plastic pitcher that was once a part of a hot tea making apparatus. And then pour from the pitcher directly into the 4 quart jars plus a small jar that becomes the culture for the next batch. So I have to wash the pot, the blender container, the pitcher, strainer and thermometer (I do the thermometer by hand). And the pitcher fits inside the pot and the blender alongside it in the dishwasher with the strainer in the utensil basket. Oh yes, and I have to clean the pot from my new multi-cooker with the top that I use to heat the dairy mix in. So with the breakfast dishes, the lunch dishes and the cat bowls (we have 4 cats – us crazy old coots) that pretty much does it for a dishwasher load. And oh yes, probably some dinner dishes from the night before.

            You, OTOH, have the pot, thermometer and utensils used to mix the culture into the quart jars. And of course, any towels, and perhaps the slow cooker if you are using that method or the cooler if you are using the cooler method.

            Now let’s talk about incubation times: I put the 4 full quart jars of cultured dairy into the yogurt maker with the small jar for the next batch, turn it on, cover it with the cover and a towel and walk away… except for jiggling the jars slightly after 2 – 3 hours to see if it is firm – and it usually is – I do nothing except turn off the machine when the yogurt is firm and, again walk away. When everything has cooled down to room temperature – can be 6 – 10 hours or longer – doesn’t really matter because the bacteria are still at it – I move the jars into the fridge and that is that. No worries, no failures, no sweat.

            So I am just adding another alternative for those who are committed to making yogurt and want to take the guess-work out of the process. And when you are making a gallon at a time, you have zero tolerance for failure, or at least I do.

            Cheers,

            Bill

            1. Bill, just one comment – you can’t count the pot that’s used to heat the yogurt up in Katie’s method in your to-be-cleaned list. It is filled only with water, and the milk is contained in the glass jars, so there is no need to wash it afterwards. Same for the cooler – there’s nothing coming in contact with any food, so why would you need to wash it?

              I use my water bath canner, so no need for a towel inside it either.

              The only things I have to clean at the end are my thermometer, the bowl the starter was in, a spoon, and the jars themselves.

              The jars can be a little extra work sometimes with the milk that sticks inside, but I’ve discovered a method that works pretty well. First give it a quick rinse and scrub to get out most of the yogurt clinging inside. Then fill it with hot water and let it soak for a couple of hours or overnight. Then try scrubbing it out again – it’s usually much easier. If not, a little vinegar or lemon juice seems to get the more persistent stuff. Hope that helps!

      2. Carrie from Denver Bargains

        Hmm, I’ll have to keep trying. I don’t think I’m overheating the milk, but it’s possible my thermometer is off.

        Or, I may just buy a bottle brush. 🙂

        1. Carrie,
          Not necessarily heating it beyond 180F, but too fast or for too long. I will say I noticed yesterday that when I turned the heat down to Low and left the jars in for maybe 15 minutes, where there were bubble-spots on the sides, most of them went away. For whatever reason, they are more prolific with homogenized milk than our raw milk, which I do sterilize before making yogurt simply because the end result is thicker. There’s a method to the spotty madness; I just need to figure out the equation! 😉 Katie

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  18. I am very late to this thread, and possibly you’ve already mentioned this somehwere else, but I make yogurt using the same basic method but instead of the cooler I use a heating pad. I place the 115 degree jars, capped, on top of a heating pad set on ‘low’, place a large stock pot over top and cover with a towel. I leave the jars for 8 hours and then refridgerate. They turn out perfect every time. My family prefers vanilla yogurt so I’ve started adding two teaspoons of good quality vanilla and 5 stevia packets per quart of milk. I add this at the time I add my starter (when the milk has cooled to 115 degrees) and I also find that using 1/2 cup of dry milk powder to one quart of whole milk before heating makes thicker, creamier yogurt.

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  20. i have a question: you mention the reasons why to not use organic milk, but what if i used organic whole milk yogurt for my starter? would that be okay, or just as bad?

    1. Charis,
      Nope, totally a great option! I don’t think the organic yogurt is pasteurized in the same way and is a super way to start this process. 🙂 Katie

      1. i tried this last night (started too late and had to set my alarm for 1:45 am and 2:45 am because i didn’t want to start it off too sour to turn the kids off to my new idea) and it worked amazing! i have 4 jars of beautiful perfect smelling and consistency yogurt! thank you so much for being so thorough in your instructions. they were very easy to follow!

  21. The first time I made yogurt it was awesome! The second time it had pink blotches in it. Should I throw it out? It doesn’t smell bad, it smells the same as the first batch did.

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  24. Has anyone had a problem with yogurt turning out slimy? I’ve made numerous batches of yogurt with this method and have had fabulous results each time, but this last batch is just . . . slimy. I’m also not having much luck straining out the whey; it’s just staying in the yogurt. Not a good consistency at all.

    I’m pretty sure it’s SAFE, because it smells and tastes okay, and I’ve had some in a smoothie with no ill effects. That’s probably what I’ll use the rest for, but I’m wondering if there’s something specific that might have caused this that I can avoid doing in the future.

    I used fresh starter this time, Stonyfield plain fat-free, which I’ve used before. Same whole milk as I always use. Made sure my incubation temp was between 105-115 the entire time, for six hours as usual. The only difference was that I got distracted when heating the milk and let it get up to 200 degrees, but I cooled it down to 115 as usual before adding the starter. Might something have happened to the milk by heating it too much like that, though? Any other ideas?

    1. Jennifer,
      That’s a new one on me, although another gal just had trouble straining the whey out this week. Perhaps it is the temp problem? Do you use the jar-in-pot method? I don’t use a thermometer anymore, but I always forget about it – for real – usually to boiling over, but only the water boils over, thankfully. It seems like my milk probably does get that high sometimes, but I can’t say I’ve ever gotten “slimy”. Sounds unappetizing! Here’s crossing fingers for you that it won’t happen next time.
      🙂 Katie

  25. After try #2 I’m still trying to figure out what I did wrong. Both times the yogurt was very runny like nothing ever happened, 1st time I thought maybe I hadn’t let it incubate long enough 5 hrs, or it was too cool, the pot doesn’t fit in my cooler so I pour the hot water into my blender. Heated up the first batch and got a half whey/ half gritty yogurt. Second time I got thickened milk with a really thick part at the base. and got distracted and let it incubate for 24 hrs. pouring in fresh boiling water before I went to bed. Any clues on what to do next, I’m nervous about using my raw milk until I’ve figured it out??

    1. Sharin,
      You used raw milk for the yogurt? It does make a difference, I’ve found, and I’ve definitely had that second result with the thick at the bottom and lots of whey. Yogurt is certainly an art and a science, until you get it down – then it’s just routine. I have two recommendations:
      1. make sure your raw milk gets hot enough to pasteurize it. Seems silly, I know, but with this method and a Dannon starter I just never had consistent luck with raw milk. Others do, but with more expensive starters.
      2. test the temperature of your yogurt while it incubates. Use the candy or meat thermometer after 2 and 4 hours, and make sure it’s staying between 100-110F.

      I hope one of those tips makes a difference! Good luck! 🙂 Katie

      1. Katie,
        The only times I have gotten thick yogurt at the bottom with liquid on top is when I use too much culture and/or have the temperature a little too high to start with in my yogurt maker. The temperature thingy happens when I add the water to my yogurt maker for the water bath the jars sit in and the water is much too hot.

        And too much culture – especially in the form of fresh or recycled yogurt – can curdle the milk also resulting in a cottage cheese consistency.

        In all these cases, I still use the yogurt.

        Whey is also useful in my kombucha making – I draw off a gallon or so a week from a 2 gallon jar of it I have sitting on my fridge. The whey and/or fruit juices are/is added as part of the finishing process. It is also yum!

  26. I love the my yogurt website. It has been my favorite recipe so far. I only use whole organic milk. I also use a greek yogurt as a starter. both work just fine. In addition I don’t “cook” them in any container except for a sauce pan. To which I do wrap a towel around and my resting time is in the oven. With the oven off of course. I usually do this at night and in the morning I have yogurt. I then take it out and place it in a plastic container and throw it in the fridge! For a sweetner again if needed use agave nectar.. mixes in way better than honey!

  27. Katie, I googled for “soaked grain pumpkin muffins” earlier this week and found your site. I’m in love!! Thank you so much. I made the soaked corn bread (my mom’s recipe from growing up…love MWLess) and it was awesome. The muffins were great, but still a tiny bit flat. No complaints around my table though!

    Then I made the yogurt and we were through a whole quart in a day….huge fans here! I grew up on homemade yogurt and I’ve been looking for a quick easy way to make it without a machine…now I need to buy/find a cooler though since I can’t borrow the neighbor’s all the time!!

    Just wanted to note that LEAVING yogurt in the freezer didn’t work out for me….yup. It chilled it in there and that was fine, then I took out my first quart and thought, “Ah, I’ll just save fridge space and leave the rest in there until I need them; they’ll also probably stay fresh longer this way” and then this morning you can imagine my dismay when I found 3 shattered quarts. Boo hoo.

    I’m not sure, but my guess is my freazer cycles on/off with temp or something…

    Good news though!! I managed to defrost the yogurt enough for some of the liquid to drain out and then I was able to break the glass OFF of the chunk of frozen yogurt and rinse the yogurt in the sink to make sure there were no shards….the glasses each broke into about 3-5 large chunks. I know this sounds a little sketch, but I think what remains (now safely stored in old plastic tubs from Dannon) will still be fine for smoothies.

    Just a warning to others…just freeze, but perhaps don’t STORE in the freezer, or if you do, make sure you lid isn’t screwed tightly.

    Thanks again for all your great recipes!! I’m hoping to make granola (I like my recipe, but always up to try a new one!) and granola bars tomorrow. 🙂

    PS: My *second* batch (this week) of turkey broth is simmering on the stove right now. Mmmm.

    1. Rochelle,
      What a bummer! The texture will change dramatically if you let the yogurt freeze all the way, so I wouldn’t recommend it on purpose, even if your jars have enough headroom for expansion. (I’m a stickler about not throwing anything away, too, so I could totally see myself doing the same thing you described to save the yogurt, all while mourning the jars! 😉 Katie

      1. Thanks for the compassion. 🙂 It was a sad day, but I learned a lot, right?

        Also, I did roughly 100* (not sure, but I refilled the hot water before bed and first thing in the morning and the air in the cooler didn’t feel *that* hot…about like a warm southern summer day) for about 16 hours and thought it was PERFECT! Mmm.

        1. Rochelle,
          I approved Bill’s comment because I welcome discussion here, but I wanted you to know that the 16-hour yogurt will be healthier b/c more lactose is pre-digested by the probiotics – and of course you’re using fewer dishes! Woo hoo! 🙂 Katie

    2. Rochelle,
      Last Friday, I served dinner 45 needy folks at our local homeless shelter and it was well received and most importantly SAFE! If you ever get a chance, take a course in food safety and you will understand my horror when I read that you recovered the yogurt from the broken glass jars. If that ever happens to me – and it hasn’t even though I have made nearly 50 gallons of yogurt since May (my wife and I eat a LOT of yogurt) – I would toss everything in the trash, regardless.

      My process is to heat 3+ quarts of milk overnight in our crockpot on low, cool to below 120F in a huge soup pan in a set in a dishpan with cool water in it, blend in the culture, strain into quart jars, set it in our yogurt-maker (oh those dastardly words) for only 2 hours – it sets in that short a time – and then refrigerate. Perfect yogurt each and every time.

      Check our website: http://mryogurt.info/

      Bill

      1. Bill,

        Thank you for your feedback. I’m glad you’ve found a way to make yogurt that works so well for you. As I said before, I love Katie’s recipe and will continue to follow it exactly allowing my yogurt to culture at 100* for 16-20 hours.

        As to safety, my only reason to share the results of my yogurt’s time in the freezer was to warn against allowing one’s yogurt to freeze/store in the freezer. Since you seem concerned I will state what I believed to be the obvious, that a.) I was only serving this yogurt to my own family and b.) that I would never serve them something I though unsafe. I know that it might sound unsafe, but if you had seen the broken glasses (which I carefully inspected) and the block of frozen washed yogurt I don’t think you would be as worried. Thank you for your words of concern.

        What a blessing that you are feeding the hungry at this time of year. May you continue to find much blessing in your acts of service as I do in mine. God bless.

  28. I’ve made my own yogurt now about 4 times. First was perfect, but later batches seemed to have a lot more whey and a cheesy consistency. They also smelled like melted butter instead of yogurt. I thought I had ruined it by heating too much and turned them into cheese, but I now suspect that it was just fine and could have just stirred and refrigerated it until normal. Anyone else have this problem?

    1. Will,
      Likely your incubation temp was a little high or you added too much yogurt starter. Sometimes I get that cottage-cheesy consistency – they yogurt is still fine to eat, but it’s not as fun! Just watch your temps, I like to shoot low nowadays, to around 100F.
      🙂 Katie

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  30. Did my second batch using your method tonight, both times with excellent results. Thank you so much for this no-hassle, no dishes technique! I tried other heating/incubation techniques, and this is by far the easiest and cleanest. Something that challenges me that other recipes ignore is how you transfer the heated milk from the pot to jars without spilling all over (yes, a ladle helps but I still manage to spill…)

    My tips and variations:
    – If you do add dry milk, use a stick blender to mix them before heating, it helps overcome the lumps.

    – I incubated the first batch in a cooler, and the second time just wrapped the jars tightly in a blanket on a bed, covered with a thick quilt. That’s because I couldn’t fit in all the jars in the cooler. Worked as well. I assume it depends on the amount (I had 4 quarts in 3 large 1.5 jars), and the room temperature – will have to see how this works in the winter.

    – After the incubation and before storing in the fridge, I stir the yogurt thoroughly (either manually or with a stick blender). This gives it a smoother, creamier texture, more similar to the commercial ones. It also becomes less solid, of course.

  31. Just out of curiosity, I tried putting all the yogurt ingredients (milk, culture, sugar and some Splenda) in a blender and blending it for 30 seconds. I poured it through a strainer into the cups that come with my Waring Pro yogurt maker, put them in the yogurt maker and turned it on. All that probably took less than 5 minutes.

    4 hours later, success! While the yogurt wasn’t as thick as I would like, I could always add some powered milk to it before the blending process.

    My wife loved it and that is the best test for me.

  32. I tried this last night, but used my L’equip dehydrator to culture it. It was still runny (like milk) after 8 hours so I left it running all night and woke to a slightly thicker product, which did set up more after a few hours in the refrigerator. I think the total culture time was around 18-20 hours.

    The trays of my dehydrator are deep enough to accommodate the special yogurt cups that came with it, but only if the lids are left off. As a result, my yogurt has a thick skin on top of it.

    Questions:

    Are 18-20 hours sufficient to use up most of the lactose in the milk? (I’m lactose intolerant but really need dairy in my diet).

    How can I prevent the thick skin from forming next time? Plastic wrap on top?

    Can I move the yogurt from my dehydrator’s plastic yogurt cups to glass jars for storage in the fridge? Do the jars need to be sterilized?

    And, finally, is it necessary to sterilize the yogurt cups and lids? Is a trip through the dishwasher on sani cycle sufficient?

    Thanks for posting these instructions! I’m so happy to have found a way to save money by making my own.

    1. Nina,
      From what I understand, a 24 hour culture should knock out all the lactose, so you’re pretty close. Your body will be your own best gauge, I imagine.

      I’ve never incubated without a lid, but I imagine plastic wrap isn’t a bad idea, or maybe waxed paper. ?? Can you scoop the skin off if it does form?

      I would cool the yogurt before moving it, but after that, you can do what you please with it, and no, I don’t think the glass jars need any special treatment to store yogurt.

      I simply wash my equipment in the dishwasher, regular cycle, although I probably should use sani. ?? There’s just a slight risk of culturing unwanted bacteria, but I’ve gotten more lax over the years assuming that the yogurt bacteria is pretty strong and would knock out the bad guys.

      I’m surprised your yogurt was so runny after 8 hours, but maybe it does a lot of thickening up in the fridge when I do it. I tend not to disturb it before it cools. Sounds like you need a 24-hour culture anyway, so as long as you like the taste, that’s the way to go.

      Enjoy! 🙂 Katie

  33. Hi Katie, I just came across your site tonight, and I have a question for you (well, a cpl)

    My 3 year old is allergic to milk (not lactose intolerant, but full blown allergic) and while I saw you say to switch to real butter, and on this recipe you address using real milk. Are they soy alternatives to this? Will using Silk give me the same results as regular milk?
    I’d love to get my son eating yogurt, but the nearest place to buy it from me is nearly an hour away, and it tasted horrible!

    Thanks 🙂

    1. Sharee, my 2 year old is very dairy allergic as well.
      Try coconut yogurt. (and coconut milk in general for that matter) It has a nice taste and soy milk is really very processed, not to mention I don’t think the yogurt culture is enough of a ferment to counter act the phytates, and then there is the hormonal impact…suffice it to say, we don’t do soy.
      I’ve been experimenting on my own. I basically do this: http://angelaskitchen.wordpress.com/2008/04/05/coconut-yogurt/

      but I use Katie’s method of yogurt as a starter by ordering a couple of cups of So Delicious plain coconut yogurt . I get mine through AzureStandard.com, but you can check for stores here: http://www.sodeliciousdairyfree.com/locator/locator.html

      I hope that helps!
      ps. another great nutritional boost that many dairy allergic people can handle is ghee. Purity Farms and Pure Indian Foods both have organic grass fed cows so your little one can get valuable fat soluable vitamins and CLA’s that can be hard to come by otherwise

      1. Merina,
        Thank you so much! I can’t wait to try coconut milk yogurt now, and I had been wondering about ghee. I often hear that lactose-intolerant folks could handle it, but I thought maybe a milk allergy would be different.

        🙂 Katie

    2. sharee,
      I don’t really trust soy myself, for anything, so I think your best bet is to try yogurt w/ coconut milk. I think it’s possible, but haven’t tried it…but I finally bought some coconut milk, & now you’ve inspired me to try it! I’ll let you know if I can just use this method or not…

      For the butter sub, I’d also recommend coconut oil. 🙂 Katie

  34. Woo Hoo! My first batch of homemade yogurt turned out great!! (ok there was that time I experimented in college…Yes culturing bacteria was my big rebellion but the Easy Yo maker didn’t impress) I let my batch culture for 6 hours. It was nice and thick, but actually not as sour as I like it, so I think I’ll let it go longer next time. The only question I have is how to make it work for coconut yogurt.

    I did coconut milk side by side with the cow’s milk for my dairy allergic daughter. So Delicious coconut yogurt runs about $2 a cup through my co-op!! I was really winging it with some vague knowledge of what I was doing. The only coconut yogurt I had on hand was vanilla flavored, so I tried a bit as starter. Also I read on another site that you need to put honey in the coconut milk (since coconut milk has very little sugars). The end result was not thick or tart. It was plenty tasty, and my daughter ate it like soup, but I really want to get her more probiotics, and I have no idea if this even had any.

    1. Merina, I really should try some dairy free sometime, but I don’t have any ideas right now. Water Kefir would be another way to get probiotics for a dairy-free person, as is fermented vegetables.
      Good luck! 🙂 katie

  35. My kids are used to store-bought, flavored yogurt, so I had an idea and thought it might be helpful to other parents out there! I mix about 3-4 cups of yogurt with a box of instant pudding mix. This is especially cool because it thickens, sweetens and flavors it all at once. The banana flavor is especially good, IMO. Or for other flavors that you can’t find in pudding, just use vanilla and do stir-ins. I’m also going to try stirring in some Jell-O and see what happens.

    Granted, you’re adding in artificial flavors and colors, but it’s not as bad as storebought yogurt. And the real benefit is how much money you save.

    1. Jennifer, I do love the intent here, and getting kids to eat more yogurt (for less money!) is a great goal, but I’m thinking pudding mix vs. storebought yogurt is really a draw, nutritionally. The pudding mix is pretty much 100% bad for you… I wonder if there would be a way to achieve the same result without the artificial junk and powdered everything in pudding mix. ?? It’s a great thought!
      🙂 Katie

      1. Sometimes I use cocoa powder with some stevia. Or even just stevia is great. Some people find stevia has a little tart aftertaste in some foods, but in yogurt the tartness is not a problem!

  36. ok…. you can make cheese out of this stuff too?!? what would it be similar to – farmers cheese? give up this yummy recipe!!

    1. Kelly,
      My apologies for the delayed reply; your comment was mired in grain mill extra entries and I’m just now digging out. You can find the whey and cream cheese recipe on the site, and you won’t believe how easy it is. It really, really, tastes and feels like cream cheese. Yummy!
      🙂 Katie

  37. Anyone know how many calories & fat grams there are in this recipe? My youngest needs lots of each since she is beginning to feed again by mouth (she’s 5). So far I have found a store brand with 245 calories & 14 grams of fat – it is sooooo good & rich! Would love to make some homemade though – definitely would save some money.

    1. Kelly,
      I can only imagine that the fat/calories would mirror the milk you use to make the yogurt. With whole milk, of course you’ll have a higher fat content, and for your purposes you could always pump it up even higher by adding some good quality cream to the whole milk. The beauty of making your own is the customization option! Does that make sense?
      🙂 Katie

      1. Thanks for the idea of the cream. Hmm – how much cream would be too much to add/ that is before it turned into something else? lol. I’m going to try this today!!!

  38. I think i didn’t leave my yogurt to sit in cooler for enough hours. i think it went about 3 hours. It was like syrup. I drained it to make it thick . It is now very creamy and thick. Is it safe to eat?

    1. Janet,
      Shouldn’t be any problem with leaving the yogurt for just 3 hours; it would just be less cultured, I imagine. Sounds like you fixed it up just great! 🙂 Katie

  39. I’m not sure if anyone’s mentioned it yet, but I would recommend using plain Greek yogurt as a starter instead of regular, even if you’re not planning to strain it like traditional Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt (at least the kind I’ve used – Stonyfield or Greek Gods) has FIVE cultures, whereas Dannon contains only two or three depending on the variety.

    Here’s a comparison between the Dannon varieties:

    Dannon plain:
    1. S. thermophilus
    2. S. bulgaricus

    Dannon Activia:
    1. S. thermophilus
    2. L. bulgaricus
    3. Bifidobacterium

    DanActive:
    1. S. thermophilus
    2. L. bulgaricus
    3. L. casei

    Greek Yogurt:
    1. S. thermophilus
    2. L. bulgaris
    3. L. acidophilus
    4. Bifidobacterium
    5. L. casei.

    Dannon’s pretty good about marketing their Activia and DanActive brands as being extra healthy because each has a special yogurt culture added.

    Buy Greek yogurt as a starter instead, and you’re getting the same benefits as Activia AND DanActive, in one yogurt.

    By the way, I’ve been using my microwave to heat the milk without having to babysit it at the stovetop (to prevent burning), but it takes longer. I’m definitely going to try the jars-in-a-pot method, because it looks SO much simpler, and no having to ladle hot milk into containers! Thanks!!

    1. Jennifer,
      Wow! I always thought that Dannon had 6 cultures or so, but maybe they’ve changed their stuff since I was an avid label reader and not just going on what I remembered… It pays to check!

      I’m wary of microwaves in general, but especially with liquid animal products. That may sound strange, but there’s so little conclusive research on how microwaves affect food, except for the recommendations not to microwave human breastmilk because it denatures it. So I think you’ll be happier with the jar-in-pot method for a couple reasons! 🙂
      Katie

  40. I was wondering how to prevent the browning of yogurt after you mix in fruit and have it sitting in the fridge for a few days.

    1. Chris,
      I always mix in fruit right when I’m going to eat it. ?? I would do vanilla and sweetener for longer term ease in the fridge, but not fruit. Just my preference because I like it frozen! 🙂 Katie

      1. thanks for the comment thats a great suggestion. I think I will start making a base of fruit then adding it in when I will eat it. Last time I made yogurt I put in the fruit and opened it up one day and it smelled sour where my starter still was fine. My wife has suggested we make frozen yogurt coffee pops. Yum!!!

      2. have you tried making cheese. it is a pretty good adventure and rather fun but a little time consuming. I have recently make Neufchatel and American Mozzarella.

  41. William Huebl

    Thank you for all the good information… and I note the cost savings can be as high as $30 a gallon for some commercial yogurts.

    My wife and I are so excited about making yogurt we started a website: http://mryogurt.info/

    We actually make 3 – 4 quarts every couple of days – yes we eat a lot of yogurt. And we bought a Waring Pro yogurt maker which has given us perfect results every time.

    Thanks again for all the great information you are putting out for people to make their own yogurt.

    Bill

  42. I’ve been looking for a way to make yogurt without a yogurt maker. I’d found two websites that definitely interested me in their methods. One was yours as you ‘cook’ in the storage container (jar). One pertained to making crock pot yogurt, but I didn’t like the idea of extra handling to ladle the yogurt into storage containers when it was done. I was curious if the two methods could be combined without a cooler. So…

    Followed your methods through cooling in the sink. I love your guidelines if you don’t use a thermometer. They work great!

    While the milk was heating, then cooling, I took my crock pot, which all four jars would fit in at once, preheated water in the crock to very warm, testing by placing my finger in the water to make sure it doesn’t get too hot. (Filling my crock just under 1/2 full was about right to keep from overflowing when placing the jars in to incubate.) Once the crock was to temp to incubate, I turned it off, unplugged it, then I took the warm milk jars, added the ‘starter’ yogurt and a couple of tablespoons of powdered milk, replaced the lids, and placed the jars in the crock of warmed water. I then LIBERALLY applied towels all over the crock pot, completely covering and insulating it.

    The first time I made the yogurt, the heat remained long enough for the 5 1/2 hours processed, or incubated. I accidentally used too much yogurt per jar to start, forgetting I only had 16 oz. milk in each jar, not a quart, oops! Flavor was great, yogurt just a bit runny. I’d also cooled the milk a bit too much, but just drained the cool water in the sink, then ran hot water and left is sit until temp came back up. While cooling, I had the lids on the jars.

    This last time I measured correctly, I kept the jars in the crock longer (didn’t get such a late start to make it the night before), checked it after about 3 hours, kicked the crock on low for about 15 minutes or so, then turned off and unplugged the crock again. I left the yogurt in the crock this time about 9 hours total.

    I love this method, as it’s less messy than the cooler, the yogurt is already in storage containers, and it takes up less room to process than a cooler in my limited space kitchen!

    Your website was a wealth of information for me to modify to this method and have a successful result, both times, actually!

    1. Gayle,
      What an awesome combo deal! A lot of people ask if one can incubate yogurt w/o the cooler, and now I have another excellent and thorough option. Thank you so much for coming back to share your success! 🙂 Katie

  43. I just tried this method for the first time and it worked great! I used 1% organic milk and organic Stonyfield cream top plain yogurt for my starter. It’s so good I don’t need to add very much honey at all.

  44. I have not yet tried making homemade yogurt. But I was just curious: in researching, I discovered that kefir has some extra good probiotics that yogurt doesn’t have, AND homemade kefir growing occurs all at room temperature (no heating necessary). So, if I’m going to make something, shouldn’t I just go for the kefir? It seems easier. Am I missing something?

    Thanks for such a wonderful resource for home health!

    1. Lauren,
      I just haven’t tried kefir yet, but Wardeh at GNOWFGLINS says exactly the same as you do. I don’t think I personally would like drinking kefir w/o sweetener… ?? If you haven’t started either and can get kefir grains, yes, go for it!
      🙂 Katie

  45. I just recently found your site and am learning so much! I wanted to make some homemade yogurt and have been trying to buy organic milk, but saw you don’t recommend using it for yogurt. I tried to follow the link you included in the article, but it took me to a page that no longer exists. Can you point me in the right direction to find this information? Thanks so much. Love your site!!

    1. Sonya,
      Thank you for that – I fixed the link to this one: http://www.westonaprice.org/modern-foods/603-ultra-pasteurized-milk.html

      I also write on milk here.

      There is some non-UHT organic milk that would make a good choice. Enjoy the yogurt! 🙂 Katie

    1. Desi,
      I don’t know…the probiotics need some sugar to consume, so maybe not? Sorry I haven’t really experimented with alternative milks! 🙂 Katie

      1. Desi,

        Katie is right, you need the milk sugar for the bacteria to feed. However, after 24-fermentation all the sugars have been consumed and it is safe to use, safer than commercial. Due to digestion problems, I’m on a Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which eliminates all sugars, starch, and gluten. The exception is homemade yogurt that has been fermented for 24 hours. So its safe to use if you’re lactose intolerant. Irene

      2. William Huebl

        Hi Katie,

        In your instructions you bring up the problem of cottage cheese consistency and I do the following which seems to clear this up:

        1. Use a blender to blend in the culture with the warm milk, and,

        2. Strain the cultured milk when you put it in the jars.

        My wife is the first to complain if it is at all gritty or grainy and I haven’t had that problem since I have been doing the above 2 things.

        Cheers,

        Bill

    2. My sister has been using lactose-free milk to make yogurt for some time, and it’s always worked for her.

      The more important question is . . . why pay more for lactose-free milk for yogurt-making when the cultures break down the lactose in the process anyway? Most lactose-intolerant people can eat yogurt with no problems. I’ve certainly never had any myself, not even recently now that I’ve been eating copious amounts of homemade yogurt daily!

      When I told my sister this, she was really glad to hear that she didn’t have to pay twice as much for her lactose-free milk for yogurt anymore!

      1. My son is lactose intolerant and I was told the same thing, that yogurt making breaks down the lactose. He has been eating my homemade yogurt with no problem for years.

    3. Thank you for this. Very interesting. I am wondering if anyone knows that this same method of making yogurt will work with goats milk?

      1. Jen,
        Although I haven’t tried it, I would guess it should, as long as goat’s milk has some milk sugar for the bacteria to eat. Maybe google goat’s milk yogurt, and as long as the incubation temp and time are similar, you can use the cooler method and jar-in-pot. 🙂 Katie

      2. Hi Jen,
        I’ve been making goat yogurt for a little while – about 3 mths – and it is wonderful! I use a simpler method than Katie’s since we have dairy goats. After straining the milk, I put it in the dehydrator for about half an hour at 110-115 degrees (to make sure it’s warm enough; I won’t have to do this step in the summer), add the starter put the cover on tight and shake well. I put it back in the dehydrator at the same temp and wait at least 10 hours. When it’s done, I put it in the fridge. It’s really good and I’ll miss it when we dry up the goats in a month or so, but I’m gonna try this with cow milk while waiting for the goats to kid (or freshen).

        1. Thanks Brenda! So, do you have an excaliber dehydrator? If so, which model and how do you like it in comparison to any other dehydrators? ~ Thanks again! 🙂

          1. Hi Jen,
            Yes we have the 9-tray Excaliber w/out the timer. I had borrowed an American Harvest dehydrator from a friend before I bought my own. I went with Excaliber because it’s square, more flexible than the round dehydrators, relatively easy to find (@ Cabela’s), not too expensive and made in the USA! Besides making yogurt in it, my daughters have been drying fruit and making fruit leather. All very good!
            I have made raw cow milk yogurt in my dehydrator and it is good! However, it takes longer because I can not get the cow milk while still warm from the cow. I do not heat the milk any more than what the culture needs to grow. I use cultures I bought from Dairy Connection.

          2. Jen, We have an Excaliber dehydrator, 9-tray model, without a timer. I had borrowed an American Harvest dehydrator from a friend before I bought ours. I like the Excaliber because its square, more flexible (use for more things than just drying), not too expensive, easy to find (bought at Cabela’s), the company has been around awhile, and made in USA!
            I have made raw cow milk yogurt in the dehydrator and it is good! I do not pasteurize the milk first. I use cultures from Dairy Connection. One of our goats is due in a little more than a month. Soon we’ll have goat milk yogurt again!

  46. Brittan Starr

    Hello Katie,

    I used to make my own yogurt all the time, but then I became vegan and didn’t know whether this home-made technique would work on soy or almond milk. Any suggestions or ideas? Thanks!

    1. Brittan,
      I have people ask me that all the time, but I just don’t know! The key is that you’d need some sugar to make it work – the bacteria eat the lactose which allows them to reproduce. I don’t trust soy milk anyway, as it’s not a traditional food and there is a good body of research about the health hazards of unfermented soy. Welcome to KS; I see you’ve clicked around a bit! 🙂 Katie

  47. Hi there. I don’t know if you get notification when someone posts a comment on an old post such as this, but I found this post when you linked to it last week. Well, anyway, if you get this, I’d love your advice. I can not get the milk to heat in a glass jar past 170 degrees. I’m guessing that’s b/c water will only heat to it’s boiling point. I’ve added salt to the water and it helps it get hotter but then cools down. I actually had the milk on medium/low for an hour last night. How do you do it? Thanks!

    1. Shannon,

      ??? I haven’t used a thermometer in so long, I just stop when a little film forms on the top of the milk. 170 should be just fine to kill any bacteria that might be present in your milk anyway. Just go with it! Enjoy! 🙂 Katie

    2. I don’t see what the problem is. Surely it is just the water boiling BEFORE the milk. It will continue to heat up. Water boils at 100*C/212*F. The milk will not stop at 170*F

      I have just put a batch in the fridge. It seems like it will be too runny, but it was my first one and something to learn from.

      1. I must stop it before the milk boils, usually. Hope your yogurt surprises you and turns out great! 🙂 katie

      2. Well, not sure what went wrong. Any number of things probably, being my first batch. It is thicker than Yop, but still definitely drinkable!

  48. Hello Katie:

    I’m so happy that I stumbled upon your great site! I love the idea of making yogurt in the cooler, so brilliant! I’m on a Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) due to some intestinal problems, I’m following Elaine Gottschall book “Breaking the Vicious Cycle.” Yogurt is one of the main foods I can eat and help me heal but it has to be fermented for 24 hours. Commercial yogurts are only fermented for about 4, so milk sugar/lactose still remains in the yogurt, however 24 hour fermentation ensures the yogurt is lactose free. Plus you get more probiotics from the 24-hour compared to commercial yogurt. I was looking into a yogurt maker, but their temps are pretty inconsistent for a 24-hour period, some people complained that their yogurt reached temps of over 120 degrees, so that ruled it out for me. Also Elaine Gottschall recommends using only whole milk, its better for you than low and nonfat milk and not to use the new ultra pasteurized milk. She also recommended Dannon Original yogurt (don’t use your homemade yogurt as a starter because she was concerned about breeding bad bacteria if it got into your batch) but I can’t find a small carton so I decided to use a yogurt starter that only contains L.bulgaricus, S.thermophius, and L.acidophilus, the three good ones to help me heal, not the Bifidus family apparently it feeds the bad bacteria in the gut which I’m trying to kill. The starter does contain sucrose but that is o.k. because of the 24-hour fermentation period. The starter is called Yogourmet, you can find it in the refrigeration section of your local health food store or can order it online, Lucyskitchenshop.com has a great price. I haven’t tried your cooler method because I have a food dehydrator by Excalibur, 9 trays, which I totally love. The Excalibur’s instruction is to ferment the milk at 120 degrees for only 4-6 hours, which wouldn’t work for me. Then I stumbled on your site and it gave me the idea of lowering the temp on the Excalibor, which I can adjust, you can’t do that on yogurt makers. I can fit 8 quarts in that thing if I wanted to but for now I only put in 4. Through trial and error, using a digital thermometer, I set the temp at about 95 degrees so the ambient temp is kept at about 104, not too hot not too cold just baby bear. My yogurt came out perfect the first time I made it! Your idea of heating the milk in the jars is brilliant too, less work and no worry of burning. All the sites I came across never suggested that. I love skipping steps. I’m a huge fan of Super Foods RX by Steven Pratt, everyone should own a copy! Thanks for taking the time and providing great information! Irene

    1. Irene,
      I’m so happy to help! I have heard of Yogourmet starter. You could also buy a big Dannon and freeze portions in ice cube trays. I just got a big Excal dehydrator, but I will probably stick with the cooler – it’s smaller and lighter! 🙂 Katie

  49. Love this site!
    Just made crock pot yogurt and it was thin, but once strained…heavenly!!!
    Through reading here I figured out what to try next timeI did some reading and I think I discovered my 2 main mistakes
    1. I was in a rush and added the starter to quick-I did use a thermometer to check it and it was 112. 100 is supposed to be the best.

    2. The starter I used was the low-fat kind that we only get by mistake or if they are out of the full fat kind.

    And I whisked the starter in pretty good -next time won’t be so aggressive.

    But HOW simple it was!!

    QUESTION about straining. How long can I let it sit on the counter and strain before it needs refrigeration or should I always strain it in the fridge?

    Thanks Katie for a great site and great links!

    1. Marcy,
      You can strain for 4-8 hours, as far as I know. Cultured products are pretty resilient!
      🙂 Katie

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