Making yogurt is easier than you might think. While it’s not necessary to own a yogurt maker−there are many techniques, from using a dehydrator to using a heating pad or placing a jar in a cabinet with a lamp−it does make the process easier and some of them come with nice glass jars you can use to store and transport the yogurt in.
For the past several years I have used an Excalibur dehydrator (also here) to make yogurt, which is great to have if you want to make other things like dried herbs, beef jerky and fruit roll-ups. However you do make yogurt, the yogurt should be kept at a steady low heat between 100°F/38°C and 110°F/43°C for the time it takes to culture.
Along with milk, you need a yogurt starter that kicks off the growth of good bacteria (cultures) and turns the milk into yogurt. The yogurt starter contains the bacteria that will digest the lactose (milk sugar).
For yogurt starter, I usually use Yogourmet’s starter, plain sheep’s milk yogurt, or some yogurt from a homemade batch. Yogourmet tends to be more tart (sour) than other starters, so choose a more mellow starter if you prefer a less tart yogurt. I recommend using a plain, high quality yogurt that you already like, that doesn’t contain any additives other than bacterial cultures. For digestive health (SCD), GIProHealth also sells a dairy-based and a dairy-free yogurt starter.
Another great source of yogurt starter (and other culturing starters and tools) is Cultures for Health.
Dripped Yogurt (Greek Yogurt)
To drip yogurt (also referred to as Greek yogurt for it’s thickness), I place a strainer in a saucepan, then place a paper towel (cheesecloth, or coffee filter) in the strainer, and finally place the yogurt in the paper towel. I put the saucepan top on and let it drip away, sometimes over night in the refrigerator. Or, you can purchase equipment to strain your yogurt. The longer you drip it the more water drips out, so you can control how thick (and dry) you want your yogurt by how long you let it drip.
I’ve listed exact temperatures below for accuracy, however I usually make it without testing the temperatures by just looking for a few signs. I know the milk is sufficiently warmed in step 1 when it has a film on top and it is simmering and on the edge of a low boil. I then cool it for 15 minutes at room temperature and then go on to step 2.
- 4 cups milk (cow, goat and sheep milk work well)
- about 1 tablespoon yogurt starter
- Sterile container and cover
- Pour the milk into a saucepan, place it on a low to medium heat and bring the milk to a steady simmer. When the milk reaches about 180°F/90°C, remove it from the heat off and let cool to room temperature.
- Pour about ¼ cup of the cooled milk into a sterile container that has a cover. Add the yogurt starter and stir to blend well. Pour in the rest of the milk and blend well.
- Place in a yogurt maker or other warm environment, between 100°F/38°C and 110°F/43°C.
- After 4 to 8 hours for regular yogurt (or 24 hours for lactose-free yogurt), refrigerate the yogurt until you’re ready to use it. It will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator.
Makes about 4 cups
Dripped yogurt—also called strained or Greek yogurt—is thick yogurt that’s had a lot of its moisture dripped out of it. I use dripped yogurt whenever a recipe calls for Greek yogurt, or when I want to reduce the amount of moisture added to a recipe. It also makes an excellent substitute for cream cheese or farmer’s cheese (pot cheese).
Dripping the yogurt for just a short time, say 30 minutes, will give you Greek-style yogurt. Dripping it longer—at least 6 hours—will give you yogurt with a cream-cheese consistency. Once you have cream cheese, you can add salt and herbs to create a tasty dip or a spread for sandwiches.
- 2 cups yogurt
- bowl to catch the dripping liquid (whey)
- strainer of some kind (mesh strainer or colander)
- paper towel, cheese cloth, or coffee filter
- Set a mesh strainer or colander over a bowl to catch the dripping liquid from the yogurt (whey). Line the strainer with cheesecloth, a coffee filter, or a few sheets of paper towels.
- Place the yogurt in the lined strainer. Let it drip for at least 30 minutes, or up to at least 6 hours for cream cheese consistency. You don’t need to refrigerate the dripping yogurt, but I tend to do so in case I don’t use it right away.
- Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks.
Makes about 1 cup