The Frugal Girl’s Homemade Yogurt

by Katy on September 30, 2012 · 44 comments

Remember how I talked the talk about making homemade yogurt for the SNAP/Food Stamp Challenge? Well the challenge is over, but that doesn’t mean that my yogurt aspirations have expired. I’ve made homemade yogurt in the past using my vintage Salton yogurt maker, but I’ve always felt like the amount of work to actual amount of yogurt ratio was skewed in the direction of not worth the effort. 

I’ve noticed that The Frugal Girl’s homemade yogurt recipe seemed to produce a large amount of product, so I decided to take a stab at her recipe. And boy am I glad that I did, because yum, yum and . . . yum.

I won’t write out the whole recipe, as it’s far easier for you to just CLICK HERE to read The Frugal Girl’s one. But here are the steps.

First of all, take a moment to picture a lovely bowl of yogurt, perhaps even topped with homemade plum jam.

Like so:

Now heat up the milk, making sure to keep an eye on the temperature:

I suppose we should take a moment to bask in the beauty that is my vintage Dutch oven. Because, it is indeed awesome, especially when the lid is in place.

This what the milk looks like when it’s just the right temperature. (185°)

At this point, the milk is then poured into a large pot, which sits in a cooling bath of cold water. I didn’t want to put my pretty vintage hot pot into cold water, for fear of damage. But a regular stainless steel pot would be fine to set into cold water. Once the yogurt cooled to 120°, I whisked a small container of plain yogurt into the milk.

I then poured the milk/yogurt mixture into freshly cleaned jars. This is where making yogurt wins over canning, as plain ol’ mayonnaise jars and Pyrex dishes work just fine. No need for special fancy-schmancy Mason jars.

I then put lids on the jars and set them in a cooler partially filled with warm water. I kept the lid in place and ignored the yogurt for three hours, and then refrigerated everything overnight.

How good was the yogurt? My husband, who formerly would only eat the Chobani yogurt ($1 to $1.50 per tiny cup) gave it two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Now, I can sleep easy knowing that America’s newest billionaire can make his riches off of someone else.

Again, behold my yogurt:

Have you tried making your own yogurt in the past? Please share your stories and tips in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen | The Frugal Girl September 30, 2012 at 11:34 am

Woohoo! I’m so glad that Mr. NCA liked it. You will saves sooo much money if you use this instead of the Greek yogurt. Even if you strain off some of the whey (I do this sometimes when I want Greek yogurt), you’ll still be money ahead.

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Katy September 30, 2012 at 11:43 am

He can be oddly picky at times, but I caught him helping himself to a big bowl this morning. I’m going to make some in small Pyrex containers for his work lunches.

Katy

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Linda in Indiana September 30, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Started making my own yogurt in the CP a couple of months ago. My Salton yogurt maker quit years ago. Now, I wish I had started making mine again a long time ago. It tastes So much better and is so much cheaper. Plus I can flavor it myself and still have it taste sweet with lots less actual sweeting and no additives. Sure seems like a win-win to me.

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Jen October 1, 2012 at 8:18 am

We use the crockpot method, too. Love it! Also love that I don’t have all those yogurt containers around since they aren’t recyclable here. Can’t buy milk in glass here, so I still have a plastic milk jug, but that I can recycle. And my husband can make vanilla with less sugar than the commercial stuff.

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Saba September 30, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Another advantage of making your own — if you buy milk in returnable glass bottles you can reduce your plastic waste to zero. Milk in glass is usually more expensive than that in a plastic jug — I buy local, organic milk in glass that costs $4 a half-gallon. But when you factor that out, it’s about $4.50 for 8-9 cups of yogurt (I usually add some dried milk to make a firmer yogurt, which ups both the price and quantity a bit) or 50 cents a cup.

Obviously this isn’t as money-saving as using $6/gallon organic milk in plastic or $3/conventional milk in plastic — but I’m including my calculations of the effects of additional plastic waste when I’m considering what’s “cost effective”. And it’s still not that expensive relative to purchasing commercially produced yogurt.

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Kelly September 30, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Love homemade yogurt! If you’d like a thicker consistency without straining, try adding. a couple of tablespoons of dry.milk per quart when you add the starter yogurt. Also, when I make raw milk yogurt, I heat the milk to 118 degrees only to preserve the beneficial enzymes. Thanks for the post!

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Karen September 30, 2012 at 3:50 pm

It’s a thing of beauty – the dutch oven and the yogurt! I make the Frugal Girl’s yogurt all the time. For small, premade servings I would look for salmon canning jars at the thrift shops. I get them for .15-.25 each and have found the white plastic storage lids a few times, too.

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Jessie D September 30, 2012 at 3:59 pm

I love making my own yogurt. I prefer Greek style yogurt, so always end up straining off a lot of the whey. It reduces it by half (I start with a half gallon of milk and finish with a little over a quart of yogurt), but don’t eat as much of it because its so thick, filling & yummy! I buy a gallon of local whole milk that is minimally pasteurized at a low temperature (the recipe I use recommends using the least pasteurized milk available) for $5 and I still come out spending half the price for the same amount of yogurt as I would buy in the store

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greenstrivings September 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm

This is how I make yogurt, but I leave it in the cooler over night (8 hours). It makes a nice, thick, creamy yogurt that I don’t even strain — and I’m a huge Greek yogurt fan. YUM.

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Becky September 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm

I just made the FG’s yogurt, for the first time, this afternoon. I guess we’ll see how it is tomorrow. I started with smaller scale – a quart of milk. We don’t eat a lot of yogurt at our house – my attempt was more of an effort to prove I COULD do it, as I’m not much of a baking/cooking/creating person.

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Dusti September 30, 2012 at 4:28 pm

I’ve never made my own before but you make it look so easy, I’m going to give it a whirl!

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betsyohs September 30, 2012 at 4:50 pm

ooo, that dutch oven is *gorgeous*! My parents eat a lot of yogurt, and my dad can’t bare to throw out the containers. He showed me a stack 4′ tall, at least. So I gave him a yogurt maker, and now he makes all their yogurt. Their stack of containers isn’t getting any shorter, but at least it’s not growing, too!

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Jen October 1, 2012 at 8:21 am

Our food pantry takes the large plastic yogurt containers for re-use. They divvy up donated soups and big bags of dry beans using them. Maybe in your area too?

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betsyohs October 2, 2012 at 10:10 am

gosh – that’s brilliant. I’ll do some research!

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Emily September 30, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I switched to crock pot yogurt because the milk would burn on the bottom of the pan and need a three day soak. I think the crock pot yogurt is easier – no temperature taking!

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Kim P. September 30, 2012 at 6:33 pm

I do crock pot yogurt, too. Except mine doesn’t turn out quite that thick. I think I’ll try a previous suggestion and add some dry milk next time.

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Stephanie September 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Oh man. I just made this tonight and it looks like milk. Not set up at all. Does this happen a lot and how can I fix it? So frustrated to just wasted all that milk.

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AFS September 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm

I’m no expert but I think you killed the bacteria. I don’t think you have to toss the milk, just start over being very careful with your temperatures. I wish you success:)

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Elaine September 30, 2012 at 6:51 pm

I have been making her yogurt for a couple years now. I often add some sugar and a small vial of Lorann oil. Raspberry is our favorite. Glad you tried it and like it..

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AFS September 30, 2012 at 7:15 pm

I too am a convert from vintage yogurt maker (mine was Big Batch brand) to Frugal Girls method. With a few personal changes. I heat my milk in the microwave, 3 minutes at a time, it’s probably slower than heating it on the stove but no danger of scorching. I use 1/2 pint jars rather than quarts. If I have a qt. open it often gets moldy before I can finish eating it but when I only open one serving at a time it lasts much longer. Kristen uses canning lids & rings I use plastic lids ( from peanut butter or mayo jars). My Big Batch yogurt seperated and was thin. Frugal girl’s method is thick and creamy. Mmmm!

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AFS September 30, 2012 at 7:20 pm

I forgot to say I let mine incubate overnight.

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Diane C September 30, 2012 at 9:02 pm

I alternate between TFG’s and crock-pot methods. Kristin’s is great when it’s hot out and the crock-pot is warm and cozy in the winter.

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Shelly September 30, 2012 at 9:28 pm

I started out making yogurt with the cooler method for our soy yogurt (my family can’t eat dairy). That method worked really well. Then I was given a yogurt maker that makes a quart or two at a time. For our family it works well too. I add a little gelatin to my soy yogurt to thicken it up as soy yogurt is much thinner than cow’s milk yogurt. We really like homemade yogurt, it is is good.

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Mary October 2, 2012 at 8:13 am

I am so glad you posted…I wondered if/ how I could convert this to soy ( I am a vegan). Do you use a particular brand of store-bought yogurt as a starter? Have you ever tried thickening with corn starch rather than gelatin?

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chris October 1, 2012 at 2:08 am

i’ve been making yogurt for probably 30 years; my boys are in their 40’s now and i was making it when they were young; i too have always used my vintage salton, which is still working fine; i love the taste and cost of homemade yogurt compared to store bought, plus, and most importantly, i know exactly what’s in it

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anexactinglife October 1, 2012 at 4:34 am

I use 1% milk to make yogurt so I found I needed a lot of help to thicken it up. For 2 litres of milk, I add 1/2 envelope gelatin dissolved in 2 oz water, add skim milk powder (I have tried various amounts) and after adding yogurt starter, keep it warm overnight (about 7 hours).

Katy, did you use whole milk?

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Katy October 1, 2012 at 5:59 am

I did use whole milk!

Katy

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Kristen | The Frugal Girl October 1, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Whole milk makes awesome yogurt.

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Katy October 1, 2012 at 3:54 pm

I also strained a batch today using a tea towel over a strainer. Super thick and yummy result that somehow got three thumbs up from my husband. 😉 I will try using a lower fat milk and adding powdered milk though. We only grow wider not taller at this point in our lives.

Katy

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Diane October 2, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Love that comment about growing wider than taller!
Am going to make the yogurt Greek style. Thanks!

Maureen October 1, 2012 at 5:41 am

Can anyone share a link for the crock pot yogurt? I’d love to read the recipe and see what the difference is.

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patti October 2, 2012 at 5:41 pm

I make crock pot yogurt using the recipe at the Mom on a Mission blogspot. She has great pictures! I use 2 cups skim milk and 2 cups 2% milk and use sugar free, non-fat vanilla pudding to thicken it. It is so good!!!

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mrs.p October 1, 2012 at 5:42 am

I was thinking about making homemade yogurt at work last weekend. Will have to try trying to eat healthier.

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emmer October 1, 2012 at 7:23 am

i started making yogurt way back in the back-to-the-land days of the 70’s because i had a dairy-reject cow who insisted on giving 5 gallons of milk a day. to avoid inundation, i learned to make butter, then cottage cheese, then yogurt, then hard cheese, then i raised two little pigs on milk/whey, garden extra and rolled barley. my three kids and my foster daughter would come home from school hungry and asking for snacks, to which my standard reply was “drink a glass of milk, a big glass.” 😀
my version of yogurt calls for heating the milk up to simmer–just a few tiny bubbles around the edges. that might be 160. i don’t measure. cool to luke warm. put 2-4 tablespoons of starter (commercial plain, live-culture yogurt or same amount of yogurt from your last batch.) in a scalded quart jar. add the now only warm milk. you could add honey or vanilla now. if you want thicker yogurt, add a tablespoon of dry milk or use a tsp of gelatin or carragean. prep the g or c by dissolving in a teaspoon of cold water, then add a little very hot water and stir. i know, it’s “cheating”, but read your labels–some commercial yogurts do the same–that’s where the idea came from. and it does make it easier for a beginner to be successful. i put mine on a heating pad and plop a towel over all to keep warm overnite. then chill.
remember that the older your starter is the more likely it is to be contaminated with non-yogurty bacteria. eventually those guys take over and the yogurt will fail. you can put that day off by scrupulously keeping clean–utensils, containers and hands. jut in case, it’s nice to have some little critter to feed a failed batch to. chickens and dogs come to mind. i once had a cat who like yogurt… or use in a baked something.

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Samantha October 1, 2012 at 8:16 am

The first time I made FG yogurt it turned out thin and milky. I realized after some research on the web it may have been the milk. I used ultra pasteurized milk. The next time I made it with a different brand of milk and it was much thicker. I love this recipe. Thanks!

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Lisa S October 1, 2012 at 8:43 am

I make her yogurt, too. I don’t use the cooling waterbath…just let it sit off to the side until it’s cooled down to the right temp. Also, I tuck it in a small sleeping bag and let it sleep in the cooler overnight… 0r 8 to 10 hours if I start it early enough in the day. Works great…nice and thick and creamy. I’ve wondered if I could let it sit less time, but haven’t tried it out yet. One of these days.

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Jessica October 1, 2012 at 12:45 pm

I made FG’s recipe after several failures with other methods and was thrilled that it worked. Then I tried again and got the usual stringy slime. So disappointing. I can’t understand where I’m going wrong. Please share this crockpot method that’s been mentioned once or twice. I don’t want to buy another appliance.

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Kris K October 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm

I always make our yogurt now, though in my newness to doing things I indulged in a yogurt maker. I add two cups of powdered milk to a half gallon of milk when making, and sometimes strain it a bit. We like ours ultra thick greek style.

Also, the longer you let it incubate, the more ‘twangy’ it gets. Usually, no more than 24 hours (I usually settle on 8 -12 depending on when I start it)>

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Katy October 1, 2012 at 3:50 pm

“Twangy?” I love it! Yee-haw! 😉

Katy

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Rosa October 1, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I have failed at this method repeatedly, and at the crockpot method – the cooler I think because our kitchen is so cold in the winter, it cooled off to fast. It was fine in spring and fall. The crockpot because my crockpot is a little too hot and I’m bad at paying attention.

My old Salton failed about 2 years ago and since then I’ve failed at yogurt about half the times I’ve tried it, with all methods (in summer my kitchen is generally in the 80 degree range, except the few weeks it’s in the 90s; in the winter it hovers right around 55 degrees overnight. i think the only really good method for an old house like this is the “warm spot on the wood stove” method.)

So this fall when i needed to replace my food dehydrator, I got a box-shaped one that doubles as a hotbox for yogurt. So far, perfect every time. It’s a pretty big appliance, though – now that apple season’s almost done I have to find a place for it where I can use it for yogurt and not have a giant box dehydrator taking up space in my kitchen. Hate to waste all that heat on the basement, though.

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Shannon October 4, 2012 at 8:17 am

I’ve been using the crockpot method now for close to a year and it’s so much better than store bought. Plus I’m all about it being easy and it really doesn’t get any easier than that. I use 2% milk, add 1/2 cup dry milk, and also 1 1/2 pkg of Knox gelatin to help it set up. I just get the cheapest container of yogurt I can find (Yoplait and Dannon haven’t worked that great for me). We’ve come up with all kinds of yummy flavors. We’ve even made our own Go-gurts in snack size baggies with it.

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Kate October 8, 2012 at 11:55 am

I am inspired to try making yogurt again–I had a Salton machine, but after it died, I gave up the enterprise.
I have the sister or brother to your Dutch oven. It is the exact same pot with similar decorations, only in blue-green. It was my husband’s when we married, and he had to fight his brother to be able to keep it, as it was a much-loved family heirloom.

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